Lay Servant Ministries

Lead, Care, Communicate ...

... these are the three principles of leadership developed in our Lay Servant Ministries Program here in the New England Conference. Here we go …

What is a Lay Servant? And what do they accomplish?

A Lay Servant is a good active, supportive member of a United Methodist congregation who is eager to be in ministry through the church. He or she is well-informed on scripture, doctrine, heritage, organization and life of The United Methodist Church and is committed to witnessing through church and community leadership, care giving ministries, and spoken communication. A Lay Servant is willing to initiate ministry in partnership with clergy and other Lay Servants and willing to improve his or her skills for service. Those in Lay Servant Ministry serve in many ways: visitation, leading a study, singing in the choir, serving at a lunch program, teaching Sunday School, sending out church or personal prayers, volunteering to clean, go on a mission project, or to lead or preach at a worship service. The types of ministry are too numerous to list.

Why Lay Servant Ministries?

In 2012 the General Conference of The United Methodist Church approved legislation to change the name of Lay Speaking Ministries to Lay Servant Ministries.  For several quadrennia various name changes were proposed — none of which adequately described the role of this leadership development program. The term servant was chosen because it best describes what Jesus told his disciples in John:13 after he himself had performed the duties of the lowliest servant.  We should be honored to serve as our Lord and Savior did. We are called to live out our discipleship as servants in leadership!

Local church and Certified Lay Servants

Two tracks here remain the same: Local Church Lay Servants and Certified Lay Servants…There is no change in the process of becoming a Local Church or Certified Lay Servant from the former Lay Speaking Ministries process. The renewal process for Local Church Lay Servants is unchanged from the former Local Church Lay Speaking process. The re-certification process for Certified Lay Servants also remains the same as that for the former Lay Speaking process.

Lay Speaker

However, a new role titled Lay Speaker was added to the program, and includes both a specific training and an accountability process. A Lay Speaker is a Certified Lay Servant who is called and equipped to provide pulpit supply in the absence of a pastor. Lay Speakers must also complete an Advanced Course once every three years and, in addition, must complete a given review by the District LSM Committee every three years. The District Committee will recommend those who qualify for re-certification by the Conference Committee.

In the New England Annual Conference, the following Advanced Courses are in the training requirements for the Lay Speaker track: Discover Your Spiritual Gifts, Leading Prayer, Preaching, Living Our United Methodist Beliefs (UM Heritage), Leading Worship and Life Together in the United Methodist Connection (UM Polity).

All courses except those on Preaching are available online at as well as face-to-face in our districts classes and academies (see the pages for each District at right). Please check with your District Director regarding the frequency of use of online courses and permission. 

As determined by each Annual Conference, the New England Conference Lay Servant Ministries Committee has granted a good period of time to maintain and to bring up to date this status track.