Frequently Asked Questions About Certified Lay Ministry
The certified lay minister is a new form of leadership in The United Methodist Church, authorized by the 2004 General Conference.
- What is a certified lay minister (CLM)?
- What does certification mean?
- Where do I find this position in the Book of Discipline?
- How is a CLM different from other recognized ministers?
- What attire is appropriate for the CLM to wear during worship?
CAN A CERTIFIED LAY MINISTER:
- Lead a confirmation class?
ANSWER: Yes, under a request from and the direction of a supervising clergyperson.
1. What is a certified lay minister (CLM)?
A Certified Lay Minister is a qualified United Methodist layperson called to congregational leadership as part of a ministry team under the supervision of a clergy person. This person enters the certification process, which includes training, support, supervision and accountability while serving in a local church assigned by the District Superintendent.
2. What does certification mean?
Certification is the process recognized in the United Methodist Church to prepare someone for significant service. In this case, certification provides a layperson with the training, support, supervision and accountability to lead a congregation that either does not have a traditional clergy appointment or one that is developing team ministry.
Remember: certification is intended to be an on-going process — not an end in itself. So, you could honestly say that certification takes a lifetime and begins with a placement!
4. How is a CLM different from other recognized ministers?
A CLM is a unique, recognized lay servant in the UMC. A CLM is intended for missional leadership in churches as part of a team ministry under the supervision of a clergyperson. As part of the historic continuation of lay leadership in our church, CLM resembles earlier Exhorters, Class Leaders, Lay Preachers, and Missioners.
Specific distinctions are offered below to explain (not compare) leadership. A CLM is different from…
- An Elder?
An Elder is a clergy member of the Annual Conference ordained to a lifetime ministry of Word, Sacrament, Order and Service. Under the guaranteed appointment (placement) of a Bishop, they usually have completed seminary training. Their sole livelihood comes from a church.
- A Licensed Local Pastor?
A Licensed Local Pastor is a clergy member of the Annual Conference providing pastoral leadership in a local congregation. They are appointed (placed) by the Bishop for non-itinerant ministry in a local congregation. Their license is tied to their appointment; and when not under appointment, the Licensed Local Pastor reverts to a lay status. Their training includes attending a Conference Licensing (or Pastor’s) School and completing the Course of Study Program available from the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.
- A Certified Lay Speaker?
A Certified Lay Speaker is a layperson who is called and equipped to serve the church in pulpit supply in accordance and compliance with ¶341.1 of the Book of Discipline. Their purpose is to complement and support, not replace, pastors. The lay speaker has completed a course of study which includes the basic course in lay servant ministries and courses on leading worship, leading prayer, discovering spiritual gifts, preaching, and United Methodist Heritage and polity, and/or other courses as determined by the annual conference committee on Lay Servant Ministries (or equivalent structure). The Certified Lay Speaker is to complete another advanced course every three years.
- A Certified Lay Servant?
While local church lay servants are intended to serve in the ministry and mission within the local congregation where they are a member in good standing, Certified Lay Servants may serve beyond their local church. They may provide temporary pulpit supply for pastors who are away from their church on vacation, mission project or a family crisis in addition to any way in which their witness or leadership and service inspires laity to deeper commitment to Christ and more effective discipleship. To maintain status as a local church lay servant, he/she completes a refresher course every three years. The Certified Lay Servant is to complete an advanced course every three years. Traditionally, these individuals also speak on Laity Sunday.
5. What attire is appropriate for the CLM to wear during worship?
Since the position of certified lay minister is not a clergy position, the Lay Minister does not have sacramental authority at any time. Appropriate attire would be regular ordinary "go to church" clothes, an alb or sash/praise garment. This person leads a congregation in the work of ministry, but is not considered clergy and should not try to appear as such. Therefore, clergy robe, stole or collar should never be worn.
The CLM should not assume the title "Pastor" or be addressed as Reverend.
1. How is the CLM placed for service?
The CLM can be assigned by the Bishop in consultation with the Cabinet (205.4) or by DS (¶) to a congregation to provide preaching, care ministry, program leadership, and witness to the community as part of a mutual ministry team.
3. Who is the CLM accountable to for their leadership?
A supervising clergyperson with equipping gifts is essential to the CLM’s effectiveness. The Mutual Ministry Team, from the local congregation served, is also part of the accountability process.
A local church served by a CLM still has a Pastor Parish Relations Committee (SPRC) and Charge Conference to communicate the CLM’s effectiveness and support.
1. Where can I get the training to become a certified lay minister?
Training may be offered by your conference or district – check with your District Superintendent for available opportunities. The Coursework (4 Modules) provided by the Discipleship Ministries as downloads can also be used as a group-study with the supervision of a clergy person and the support of a mutual ministry team (key leaders) of the congregation being served by the CLM.
We believe that whatever format chosen it should include work/interaction with people in the local congregation being served.
- Assigned as a congregational leader in a small church that needs consistent, affordable pastoral care.
- Serving as part of a pastoral ministry team on a larger circuit or parish under the supervision of a lead pastor (appointed Elder or Licensed Local Pastor) to increase the pastoral care in the area.
- Being from the specific culture or ethnic group an existing congregation is trying to reach as a new faith community. Indigenous leadership can be essential in this situation!
- Extending the reach of clergy into an area experiencing decline or shrinking resources.
- Larger churches forming a pastoral ministry team to provide adequate services to members.
Thank you for your interest in Certified Lay Ministry. May God bless you as you seek to faithfully live out God’s mission to make disciples for Jesus Christ in the world!