Lay Servant Ministries is a leadership development program in the United Methodist Church that prepares lay people for specialized ministry. In the Central Texas Conference, we try to organize a variety of classes in each district each year. For those who desire, we also offer certification tracks.
There are some minor changes to Lay Servant Ministries coming up this year. General Conference, the primary legislative body in the UMC, just wrapped up their quadrennial meeting, and they passed some changes that will be reflected in the next Book of Discipline. Most significantly, they’ve eliminated the local church lay servant certification track, which required only the BASIC course. The main advantage to this is simplification. People who have only taken the BASIC course will not need to make an annual report to their church, and district directors of Lay Servant Ministries will have one less track to monitor. The change shouldn’t affect lay ministry in the local church because lay people can still serve regardless of formal certification. Those who do desire certification should take an advanced course (in addition to the BASIC course) and pursue the certified lay servant track.
The changes from General Conference also affect requirements for certification renewal. As before, certified lay servants and those certified for pulpit supply must take an advanced course at least once every three years. In addition, those certified for pulpit supply must interview with the district lay ministry team once every three years and receive their recommendation to maintain certification. In part, this ensures that district leaders get to know and trust those certified for pulpit supply.
The Lay Servant Ministries program remains a great way to learn more about how to minister effectively in your area of interest and to establish connections with those with similar interests. You can find out more about possible courses by looking through the Lay Servant Ministries catalog. If you would like to see a particular class offered in your part of the Central Texas Conference, please contact your district director of Lay Servant Ministries.