Original Posting At http://sandpipersthoughts.blogspot.com/2019/12/lay-servant-ministry-part-1.html
I am the Director of Lay Servant Ministry for my Annual Conference. Given that (and because I have prepared material for a class), I thought I would spend a few posts talking it.
What is Lay Servant Ministry? Lay servant ministry is a leadership development program of the general United Methodist Church. It is focused on equipping and empowering lay people who have responded to God’s call to serve in mission and ministry. According to the Discipline, “a lay servant serves the local church or charge (or beyond the local church or charge) in ways in which his or her witness, leadership, and service inspires others to a deeper commitment to Christ, and more effective discipleship.”
Some history, first – because I think the history will help to clear up some issues. When I first started in lay ministry, there were three types of lay servants: local church lay speaker, certified lay speaker, and certified lay minister. In 2012, the church decided that “speaking” limited the ministry of the laity.
In response to that concern, two things happened.
The structure of the program changed. Everyone who was a certified lay speaker became a certified lay servant. The local church lay speaker became a local church lay servant. The position of certified lay speaker was born. Certified Lay ministry remained the same. In 2016, the local church lay servant designation was eliminated. So – hold that thought, and in a moment we’ll explore each of those more deeply.
The second thing that happened was a revamping of the course what was called “The basic course.” The course was redesigned to reflect the expansion of the definition of lay service – from only speaking to a wider understanding of leadership. And in our Annual Conference, the Bishop (and others) decided that since the program and course were so different from what they used to be, that anyone who had taken the previous course would need to be “recertified” by taking the new basic course.
To understand the qualification for each of the types of lay leadership, though, there are a few terms we need to define:
Basic Course – Think of this as United Methodist Leadership 101. It includes information about the United Methodist Church, servant leadership, leading ministries, caring ministries, and communication. It’s a great course, and I hope that even if you don’t intend to pursue certification, you consider the course as a Leadership Development opportunity the next time it is offered near you.
Advanced Courses – An advanced course is a class that is focused in depth on an area of ministry. It requires 10 hours of study – 8 of those can be in the class with 2 hours of homework. There are a wide variety of class topics – preaching, teaching, prayer, spiritual gifts, polity, caring ministries. Whatever your interests, there is probably a class that will help you develop it.
Charge Conference – this is the annual meeting of the charge governing body where church and charge officers are elected.
District Committee on Lay Ministry – This is led by the District Lay Leader and is composed of officers elected by the District Conference. This committee plans educational events and oversees much of the lay ministry program in the District
District Committee on Ordained Ministry – This is a district committee. The members are nominated by the DS and approved by Annual Conference. The committee – among other duties – supervises all matters regarding candidacy for ordained ministry and with the license for local pastors.