A Lay Servant is an active, supportive member of a United Methodist congregation who is eager to be in ministry through the church. He/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/her skills for service. Read on, and discover that Lay Servant Ministries involve much, much more than the traditional concept of preaching!
Discover Lay Servant Ministries
General Conference 2012 approved changing our name from Lay Speaking Ministries to Lay Servant Ministries. The purpose of this change is to help everyone to understand that LSM are broad-based, providing training for a wide variety of ministries. When speaking was used in the title, many people were concerned that LSM was focused on pulpit supply and public speaking. For many, that was a barrier to taking advantage of the excellent ministry training provided in Lay Servant Ministries. Now, lay servant will clearly indicate that many expressions of ministry are available through LSM.
In order to clearly indicate that it is still possible to be trained for preaching, a special track within Lay Servant Ministries will continue to be available, called Certified Lay Speaker. This designation is only offered at the Advanced level and continues to prepare Certified Lay Servants for the role of preaching and the designation of Certified Lay Speaker.
There are two ways to be in ministry as a Lay Servant:
- LOCAL CHURCH LAY SERVANTS serve in and through their local congregations. To be recognized as a Local Church Lay Servant, you must be recommended by your senior pastor and by your Administrative Council/Board and complete the Basic Lay Servant course. To remain a Local Church Lay Servant, you will submit an annual report to your Charge Conference detailing the results of your ministry and your own continued study and growth. Every three years, you will complete a Renewal Course in the Ministries of Lay Servant published by the General Board of Discipleship.
- CERTIFIED LAY SERVANTS serve in their own congregations, in other churches, through District and Conference projects and programs and in the community beyond the church. To become a Certified Lay Servant, you must be recommended by your senior pastor and by your Administrative Council/Board, be a Local Church Lay Servant in good standing and complete an approved Advanced Lay Servant Ministry course. To remain a Certified Lay Servant, you will submit an annual report to your Charge Conference detailing the results of your ministry and your own continued study and growth. You will complete an approved Advanced Lay Servant Ministry course at least every three years. A listing of the Approved Advanced Courses may be viewed by clicking on the appropriate link at the top of this page.
Lay Servant Ministries are organized into three broad functional areas:
- CARING...A cornerstone of the Lay Servant Ministry is caring for others. Lay Servants provide many forms of pastoral care with persons in crisis; the homeless, those in hospitals or shut in at home, those who are grieving, those who just want someone to listen to them. Lay Servants are found visiting new or prospective members, working in prisons, helping with food or clothing banks and assisting with disaster relief. Lay Servants witness by acting out God's love wherever people in need are found.
- LEADING...Lay Servants are often called upon to provide leadership in both formal and informal situations in their parish and communities. They are found organizing groups for projects, chairing committees, conducting studies or gathering information to help set direction for an organization. Many Lay Servants serve in elected roles in all aspects of their community life as well in church settings. Lay Servants witness by taking the responsibility to make a difference and by empowering others to serve.
- COMMUNICATING...Lay Servants proclaim God's love through the spoken word. They are found leading Bible studies and worship events, speaking to groups in the church and community, filling pulpits when needed and serving as advocates for those in need. Lay Servants witness by telling how God's Holy Spirit is working in and through their lives, with the belief that God will use them to help heal this broken world. The 2012 General Conference of The United Methodist Church has created a special designation within Lay Servant Ministries for those persons gifted and trained in the ministry of preaching. A Certified Lay Servant Minister may be designated a Lay Speaker after successfully completing at least one approved Advanced Course in Preaching and having the approval of his or her District Coordinating Committee on Lay Servant Ministries.