Certified Lay Servants
Certified Lay Servants serve the local church or charge (and/or beyond). Specifically, they:
- Provide program leadership, assistance and support.
- Lead meetings for prayer, training, study and discussion.
- Conduct or assist in conducting services of worship, preaches the Word, or give addresses.
- Provide congregational and community leadership and fosters caring ministries.
- Assist in the distribution of the elements of Holy Communion.
- Teach the Scriptures, doctrine, organization and ministries of The United Methodist Church.
Requirements for Certification
- Pastor and church council or charge conference recommendation.
- Lay Servant Ministries basic course.
- Lay Servant Ministries advanced course.
- District Committee on Lay Servant Ministries approval. (¶668.3)
Requirements for Renewal
- Annual report and renewal application.
- Pastor and church council or charge conference recommendation.
- Lay Servant Ministries advanced course within the last three years.
- District Committee on Lay Servant Ministries approval (¶668.3).
Lay Servant Training
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Certified Lay Servant? (¶ 266. Certified Lay Servant)
- A certified lay servant is a professing member of a local church or charge, or a baptized participant of a recognized United Methodist collegiate ministry or other United Methodist ministry setting, who desires to serve the Church and who knows and is committed to Scripture and the doctrine, heritage, organization, and life of The United Methodist Church, and who has received specific training to witness to the Christian faith through spoken communication, to lead within a church and community, and to provide caring ministry.
- The certified 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. The certified lay servant, through continued study and training, should prepare to undertake one or more of the following functions, giving primary attention to service within the local church or charge, United Methodist collegiate ministry, or other United Methodist ministry setting:
- Provide leadership, assistance, and support to the program emphases of the church or other United Methodist ministry.
- Lead meetings for prayer, training, study, and discussion when requested by the pastor, district superintendent, or committee on Lay Servant Ministries.
- Conduct, or assist in conducting, services of worship, preach the Word, or give addresses when requested by the pastor, district superintendent, or committee on Lay Servant Ministries.
- Work with appropriate committees and teams which provide congregational and community leadership or foster caring ministries.
- Assist in the distribution of the elements of Holy Communion upon request by a pastor.
- Teach the Scriptures, doctrine, organization, and ministries of The United Methodist Church.
What classes do I need to take to become a Certified Lay Servant?
The Lay Servant Ministries Basic Course and a Lay Servant Ministries Advanced Course.
Is there an application process to become a Certified Lay Servant?
- Obtain recommendation from the pastor and the church council or charge conference of the local church or other United Methodist ministry in which you hold membership.
- Complete the Lay Servant Ministries BASIC course.
- Complete a Lay Servant Ministries advanced course.
- Apply to and have qualifications reviewed by the District Committee on Lay Servant Ministries, or equivalent structure (See ¶668.3). Download the application form.
Can I continue as a Local Lay Servant?
At the 2016 General Conference the category of local church lay servant was removed to reduce the number of categories for lay servant ministries. In addition, it has been found that local church lay servants are most often taking an advanced course for renewal rather than a refresher course, and therefore, were fulfilling the requirements for certified lay servant.
Currently, both local church lay servants and certified lay servants serve the local church through ministries of leading, caring and communicating. The difference between the local and the certified lay servants is that the certified lay servant may also serve beyond the local church. Being a certified lay servant, however, does not require service in the district or conference, or in other local churches beyond the local church where membership is held.
A layperson can still serve in the local church after completing the BASIC course, but in order to be certified as a lay servant he/she will need to take an additional Lay Servant Ministries’ advanced course.
The BWC Conference Committee on Lay Servant Ministry has decided to leave the category of Local Lay Servant on the Charge Conference forms for 2016. This will give our faithful Local Lay Servants a year to complete an advance course and take the steps to become a Certified Lay Speaker before the 2017 charge conference. The category of Local Lay Servant will not be available on the 2017 Charge Conference forms.
Who is the District Committee on Lay Servant Ministries and what is their role in my certification?
The District Committee on Lay Servant Ministry is chaired by the District Director of LSM and can consist of the District Superintendent, the District Lay Leader, and other laity from the district. When you have completed the Basic and Advance Lay Servant courses you apply to the district committee for certification.
To maintain status as a Certified Lay Servant:
- Submit an annual report to the charge conference and the committee on Lay Servant Ministries
- Complete an advanced course for Lay Servant Ministries at least once every three years for recertification
- Request in writing the renewal of certification to the District Committee on LSM
Who needs to fill out the Lay Servant Church Conference form?
All Certified Lay Servants, Certified Lay Speakers, and Certified Lay Ministers are required to submit an annual report to their Charge Conference. This is not a new requirement and is found in Section XI. Lay Servant Ministries in the 2016 Book of Discipline.
What if I do not have a certificate from classes I have taken before?
- If it has been in the past 2 years, please contact your District Director of Lay Servant Ministries for assistance in locating a new certificate of completion.
- If the course was from BEADISCIPLE.COM, check old emails.
- If the course was more than 2years ago enter the date and information you remember into the appropriate fields.
What if I have not taken an Advanced Course in the past three years (2 years for CLM)?
CLS and CLSp are required to take an Advanced LSM Course every three years to be recertified. CLMs are required to take a course every 2 years. These courses must be completed by Charge Conference the year they are due.
Special note: The 2016 Book of Discipline added an application process to CLS and CLSp. Completing a course does not make you certified or recertified. When you have completed the course you are to fill out an application and submit it to your District Director of Lay Servant Ministry. This process has not been fully implemented yet across the BWC. For the 2017 Church Conference season the completion of the course will be accepted. In the 2018 Church Conference season the application process will be required. This means classes should be completed weeks, if not months, before your charge conference so the district can complete your application and you will have a certificate for charge conference.
Do I need a paper copy of my report?
Yes, three copies for the three signatures at your charge conference: pastor, district superintendent, and council chair person. These three signed copies are to be retained as follows: One copy for the church, one copy for the DS, and one for your own records.
I am a CLM but have not taken a Basic Course or Advanced LSM course.
The 2016 BOD made it a requirement for CLMs to be a Certified Lay Servant. If you have not completed the Basic LSM course or an Advanced course please type NONE in the fields for these courses. The BWC Committee on Lay Servant Ministry will be working this year to make sure all of our CLMs meet the new requirements.
District Directors of Lay Servant Ministries
The District Director of Lay Servant Ministries is a certified lay person who chairs as the District Director on the District Committee on Lay Servant Ministries. In addition to the director, membership of the committee will include the district lay leader, the district superintendent, and an instructor of lay servant courses. Other resource people may be added as needed.