Lay Speaking Ministries are now Lay Servant Ministries! General Conference 2012 agreed to a name change from Lay Speaking Ministries to Lay SERVANT Ministries. During the legislative process a section was added to maintain the role of lay SPEAKER as pulpit supply and set requirements for persons desiring to fill that role.
What is Lay Servant Ministries?
by Sandy Ziegler Jackson, General Board of Discipleship.
General Conference 2012 agreed to a name change from Lay Speaking Ministries to Lay SERVANT Ministries. During the legislative process a section was added to maintain the role of lay SPEAKER as pulpit supply and set requirements for persons desiring to fill that role. This has caused some confusion within the UMC. Here are some statements to help interpret the legislation and alleviate some of the apparent confusion and consternation:
Only the name has changed for local church and certified lay speakers – now LAY SERVANTS. The requirements for training and renewal (local church lay servants) and certification and re-certification (certified lay servants) remain the same.
Former certified lay speakers (now SERVANTS) who provide pulpit supply throughout the district and who wish to remain in that role must have completed the required courses (see below) and be interviewed by the District Committee on Lay Servant Ministries then approved by the conference Committee on Lay Servant Ministries as a LAY SPEAKER.
“Grandfathering” should be avoided – it defeats the intent of the new legislation – which is to ensure that those who carry the title Lay Speaker have gone thru a process (required courses, interview and approval) which will equip them for this role.
The spiritual gifts for preaching are not present in every person. Those with these gifts who receive the recommended training will be better equipped for this ministry.
Pastors may choose or ask the district to supply a qualified person to fill the pulpit in their absence.
Not everyone who was a “lay speaker” needs this specific training for new “lay speaker” role. They can remain in certified lay servant status and continue their missions and ministries – meeting re-certification requirements etc.
Pastors may ask anyone to fill the pulpit in their absence – but they MAY want to choose a lay speaker who has been certified for this role by the District – that is the pastor’s option. Those who preach once or twice a year within their local congregation do not necessarily need to go through the new process of becoming a “lay speaker”. However, they may want to take the available courses to improve their preaching and assess their spiritual gifts, etc.
The paragraph 341.1 reference in the “Lay Speaker” amendment (new 266.6) refers to pastors engaging persons as evangelists not preachers. And with the legislation submitted and approved by General Conference all references to the prior term lay speaker will be changed to Lay Servant – which means that this paragraph will change to indicate “certified lay servant in good standing.”
So remember God is calling each of us to be witnesses who proclaim the presence and power of God through all that we are and all that we do. Listen. Is God calling you to a new way of service and asking you to be a local church or certified lay servant? Lay servants are called to proclaim the gospel in many different ways, in leadership and supportive roles, to help others grow in a life-giving relationship with Jesus Christ.
A Lay Servant is
an active, supportive (professing) member of a United Methodist church;
eager to serve the church, community, and world;
well-informed on scripture and on the doctrine, heritage, organization, and life of The United Methodist Church;
committed to witnessing through church and community leadership, caregiving ministries, and spoken communication;
willing to improve his/her skills by training for service.
Lay Servant Ministry is more!
This ministry goes beyond filling in for the pastor or speaking in public. Lay Servant Ministries, as defined in The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church, offer wonderful possibilities for serving in roles beyond what we have traditionally understood. Teaching, serving, training, leading, participating, caring, loving, and communicating are now integral parts of Lay Servant Ministries. How lay servants can help congregations and communities is limited only by your imagination and willingness to serve as a representative of Jesus Christ.
Two Types of Lay Servants
Local Church Lay Servant serve in and through their local churches. To be recognized as a local church lay servant, one must be recommended by his/her pastor and church council or charge conference and complete the Lay Servant Ministries Basic Course. Each participant must reapply annually, reporting on service rendered and learning achieved during the year. Every three years the lay servant must complete a refresher course or continuing education course relating to his/her ministry
Certified Lay Servants serve in their own churches, in other churches, and through district or conference projects and programs. This offers them the opportunity to expand their outreach and to enrich their ministry through the various advanced courses. To be recognized as a certified lay servant, one must be recommended by his/her pastor and church council or charge conference and complete the Lay Servant Ministries Basic Course as well as one Lay Servant Advanced Course. Each lay servant must report and be renewed annually, and he/she must complete at least one Advanced Course every three years.
Specialized Track: Lay Speaker – an explanation of the job!
This brand new tract as of January 1, 2013 provides for a lay speaker track within lay servant ministries. Lay speakers will have specific training as listed in this amendment and will be interviewed by the district committee on lay servant ministries.
The Book of Discipline of the UMC ¶266.6: Provisions for Lay Speakers - A lay speaker is a professing member of a local church or charge who is called and equipped to serve the church in pulpit supply in accordance and compliance with ¶341.1. A lay speaker will complete a course of study provided by Lay Servant Ministries or equivalent conference structure. Lay speakers will be certified by the annual conference committee on Lay Servant Ministries or equivalent structure after examination. The concept of lay speaker is based on the historical tradition of ministry of the laity instituted by John Wesley. While lay speakers are engaged in a variety of ministries, their purpose is to complement and support, not replace, pastors. The lay speaker will preach the Word when the pastor is unavailable, or in accordance with ¶341.1.
A certified lay servant or a person with requisite training defined by the district or conference committee on Lay Servant Ministries or equivalent structure may be certified as a lay speaker. The lay speaker will complete a course of study to include the Lay Servant Basic course, and Leading Worship, Leading Prayer, Discovering Spiritual Gifts, Preaching, and United Methodist Heritage and Polity, and/or other courses as may be determined by the annual conference committee on Lay Servant Ministries or equivalent structure. The lay speaker will be recommended by the pastor of the local church where their membership is held and by a vote of the charge conference.
Upon completion of the required course work, the individual will be examined by the district committee on Lay Servant Ministries or equivalent structure and recommended to the conference committee on Lay Servant Ministries or equivalent structure for certification.
The lay speaker must apply for re-certification and appear before the district committee on Lay Servant Ministries or equivalent structure every three years and receive the endorsement of this local church charge conference.
A lay speaker is a volunteer and serves without compensation.
Lay Servant Courses
Click here for the catalog with the latest resources designed to equip laity for their roles in ministry as disciples. The Basic Course is the beginning course for Lay Servant Ministries and for leadership development. All lay servants must complete the Basic Course. This course can also be used for other laity in the church to acquaint them with their gifts, calling, and responsibilities as followers of Christ. There are a variety of Advanced courses to support lay servant certification.
Current New England Conference Lay Speaking Courses