PATHWAYS TO MINISTRY
The leadership of the laity has a long history in The United Methodist Church. While Methodist pastors rode the circuits, it was the leadership of the lay members of the societies that kept the congregational ministry going.
A good beginning step, if you feel you may be experiencing a call to serve, is to complete a spiritual gifts inventory. Study and reflect upon how your gifts, talents, and strengths, may be used in ministry, and/or in your daily life, community, and church. Take some time to consider your passion. What inspires you? What areas of mission or ministry excite you? What issues in the church or community bring you the deepest concern? When you use your spiritual gifts in conjunction with an area of ministry that you are passionate about wonderful things can and do happen.
Another step is critically important as you explore and prepare yourself for any form of ministry. Remain steadfast in the basic Christian practices or spiritual disciplines which John Wesley called means of grace. These means of grace include prayer, Bible study, the sacrament of Holy Communion, worship, fasting, and Christian conferencing. You may join or form a small group that will help you grow spiritually and stay faithful in your spiritual practices.
One group of this kind is a Covenant Discipleship Group. Small groups for support and accountability are a rich part of our Wesleyan heritage and continue today in many churches with a renewed vitality and relevance for growing in discipleship. Today’s Covenant Discipleship Groups help their members witness to Jesus Christ in the world and follow his teachings through acts of compassion, justice, worship, and devotion under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. They focus on a balanced discipleship through works of piety (personal devotions and public worship), and works of mercy (acts of compassion and acts of justice).
For your reading:
Class leaders led the laity of the early Methodist church in developing their discipleship. Today, class leaders may be commissioned and classes may be organized to help form faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. Classes may organize as Bible studies or small groups
If you feel called to use your gifts in this way:
Ministry Area or Committee Chair
Leading within the congregation as part of a ministry team, committee member or committee chair is another form of servant ministry or servant leadership for lay people.
Resources to help you in this way:
Lay Member to Annual Conference
Lay members to annual conference have the responsibility to represent their congregation at annual conference and help interpret the actions and activities of the annual conference to their congregations.
To consider this servant leadership position:
Lay leaders function as the primary representatives of the laity in the local church, district, or annual conference to which they are elected. The role of lay leader is not only to represent the laity, but also to support the pastor. In correlating positions, the district lay leader supports the district superintendent, while the conference lay leader supports the bishop. Laity in these roles can be prayer partners and share in mutual ministry with the clergy leaders.
Steps to take include:
Exhorters in the early Methodist societies challenged and encouraged the members in their spiritual growth. After a sermon by the pastor an exhorter would give practical applications of the sermon to the society members. The term exhorter has been replaced by lay speaker in today’s UMC.
A lay speaker is a professing member of a local church or charge who is ready and desirous to serve the Church and who is well informed on and committed to the Scriptures and the doctrine, heritage, organization, and life of the United Methodist Church and who has received specific training to develop skills in witnessing to the Christian faith through spoken communication, church and community leadership, and care-giving ministries. (¶267, 2004 Book of Discipline)
Lay speakers serve in their local church, or with additional training, serve beyond their local church in other churches, the district or the annual conference. Lay speaker training is not just about preaching. In fact, there are many more courses on other areas of ministry.
Training to become a lay speaker:
Lay missioners are committed lay persons, mostly volunteers, who are willing to be trained and work in a team with a pastor-mentor to develop faith communities, establish community ministries, develop church school extension programs, and engage in congregational development. All lay missioners must follow the guidelines established by the National Committee on Hispanic Ministries of the National Plan for Hispanic Ministries and may be certified by their annual conference. (¶271, 2004 Book of Discipline)
Lay missioners may be either Hispanic or non-Hispanic and must follow the guidelines found in the National Plan for Hispanic Ministry.
Steps to become a lay missioner:
A certified lay speaker may be trained, approved, and assigned by the district superintendent to pastor a small local congregation or charge. There is now a format for equipping lay people for this role as certified lay minister (CLM). Completion of the training modules and approval by the district superintendent and district committee on ordained ministry are required before certification is granted. (See ¶272, 2004 Book of Discipline.)
Steps to Become a Certified Lay Minister:
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