Lay Servant Ministries
As United Methodists, we believe that all Christians are called to ministry. The ministry of the laity serves an integral role in fulfilling our mission to “make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” Lay Servant Ministries offers opportunities for training and certification to acknowledge and equip laity for their important roles in ministry.
Training Opportunities for Laity
All laity are invited and encouraged to participate in Lay Servant Ministry courses. We recommend the “Basic Course in Lay Servant Ministry” as a great place to start. This course is also required as a first step for anyone seeking certification as a lay servant, lay speaker, or lay minister.
- Lay Servant Ministries Courses, offered through the districts in-person and online, are available to all laity, whether or not you are seeking certification as a lay servant, speaker, or minister. These courses follow a standard design, which requires 10 hours of instructional time plus outside assignments.
- Pathways are suggested progressions through Lay Servant Ministry courses to aid laity in achieving specialization in their preferred area of ministry.
Certifications for Laity through Lay Servant Ministries
Laity who are interested in formalized training and certification for their ministry roles may consider certification through Lay Servant Ministries. There are three different certifications available. Learn more about each by clicking the links below and download this helpful chart from Discipleship Ministries summarizing the three certifications and the steps required for each.
- Certified Lay Servants – All laity interested in certification through Lay Servant Ministry begin by becoming certified lay servants. Lay servants serve in a variety of roles in their local church or UMC-affiliated setting, including teaching Sunday school, leading Bible study, starting a prayer ministry, participating in a prison ministry, or visitation. This certification requires two courses (the basic course plus one advanced course in a specialized area related to the layperson’s interest and calling). Each of these courses requires 10 hours of instructional time plus outside assignments.
- Certified Lay Speakers (Pulpit Supply) – Lay servants who are interested in preaching opportunities outside of their local congregation may pursue an additional certification as a lay speaker. While pulpit supply is no more important than other roles within Lay Servant Ministries, it is a valuable and necessary role. Certification requires completion of six advanced courses beyond the basic course: Leading Worship, Leading Prayer, Discovering Spiritual Gifts, Preaching, United Methodist History, and United Methodist Polity. Other courses may be added by an annual conference in order to respond to a specific missional context. Each of these courses requires 10 hours of instructional time plus outside assignments.
- Certified Lay Ministers – While certified lay speakers are called for an occasional preaching opportunity at a local church, there is another opportunity for laypersons to serve the church in an ongoing, longer-term deployment, through the certified lay minister program. Educational requirements are different and the ongoing accountability is with the district superintendent and the district committee on ordained ministry.
If you have any questions, reach out to your district director of Lay Servant Ministries or contact Leah Wiebe-Smith, email@example.com, Director of Leadership Development and Christian Formation for the North Carolina Conference.