Have you ever wondered what a Lay Speaker is? Does the thought of
standing at the pulpit, delivering a sermon, cause you to break out in
a cold sweat? Well then, please read on and I will try and answer the
first question and reassure you regarding the second.
Lay Speaking harkens back the very roots of the Methodist Church.
During the early organization of the Wesleyan revival in England, lay
speaker ministers became active because there were more congregations
than ordained clergy. The use of lay assistants helped fulfill John
Wesley's goal of no silent pulpits. Today, this special ministry is
much more than standing-in for pastors who are away from their pulpits
for vacation, illness or other reasons. Lay Speakers are challenged to
expand the domain in which Lay Speakers serve, and seek out
opportunities for spiritual growth and faith sharing.
There are actually two levels of Lay Speaking. The first is a Local
Church Lay Speaker (LCLS). This is a person who has taken the Basic
Course which is a 10 hour class that focuses on three primary areas of
Lay Speaking ministry: Caring, Leading and Communicating. The second is
a Certified Lay Speaker (CLS). This individual has taken the Basic
Course along with an Advanced Course. The Advanced Courses cover a
variety of different areas of ministry including Prison Ministries,
Clown Ministries, Storytelling, Christian Drama, and Ministries to
persons with Mental Illnesses or Deafness to name just a few.
As you can see, Lay Speaking covers a wide range of ministries
besides preaching. There are many excellent Lay Speakers who have never
stood at the pulpit to preach a sermon, but have touched countless
lives thru their service to the local church by means of Lay Speaking.
Please prayerfully consider becoming involved in this challenging
and rewarding ministry.
Definition of a Lay Speaker: (Taken from the VA UMC website)
Lay Speaking is not just filling pulpits. Lay Speaking Ministries as
defined in the Book of Discipline offers wonderful possibilities for
expanding the work of lay speakers. The classes described below suggest
many areas of ministry as well as offering ideas for expanding the role
beyond what we have traditionally understood.
The whole issue of how Lay Speaking Ministers can assist our
congregations and communities is limited only by your imagination and
willingness to serve as a representative of Jesus Christ.
The 2008 Book of Discipline states:
Paragraph 270.2 "Lay speakers are to serve the local church or
charge (or beyond the local church or charge) in any way in which their
witness or leadership and service inspires the laity to deeper
commitment to Christ and more effective discipleship, including the
interpretation of the scriptures, doctrine, organization, and
ministries of the church."
Paragraph 270.3 "Through continued study and training a lay speaker
should prepare to undertake one or more of the following functions,
giving primary attention to service within the local church or charge:
- To take initiative in giving leadership, assistance, and support
to the program emphases of the church.
- To lead meetings for prayer, training, study, and discussion when
requested by the pastor, district superintendent, or committee on lay
- To conduct, or assist in conducting, services of worship, and
present sermons and addresses when requested by the pastor, district
superintendent, or committee on lay speaking.
- To relate to appropriate committees and ministry areas in
providing leadership for congregational and community life and
fostering care-giving ministries."
LAY SPEAKING MINISTERS (LSM) are:
- Called by God to a ministry of caring, communicating (listening and
speaking), and leading in their church;
- Active supportive members of a United Methodist Church, well
informed on the Scripture, the doctrine, heritage, organization, and
life of the UMC;
- Committed to witnessing through church and community leadership,
care-giving ministries, listening & spoken communications, and willing
to improve his or her skills for service.
LOCAL CHURCH LAY SPEAKERS (LCLS) Serve in and through their local
congregations. To become a Local Church Lay Speaker, you must: - Be
recommended by your pastor and Church Council or Charge Conference. -
Complete the Basic Course for Lay Speaking; and - Annually reapply on
the "Lay Speaker's Annual Report", reporting how you have served and
continued to learn.
CERTIFIED LAY SPEAKERS (CLS) Serve in their own church, in other
churches and through district and conference projects and programs. To
be recognized as a Certified Lay Speaker, you must:
- Have the same recommendations as a LCLS;
- Complete the Basic Course;
- Complete one Advanced Lay Speaking course;
- Be interviewed and approved by your District or Conference Committee
on Lay Speaking Ministries.
- Reapply and report annually on the "Lay Speaker's Annual Report" on
how you served and continue to learn; and
- Complete at least one advanced course every 3 years.
You are ready to become a lay speaker if:
- You are willing to share your faith with those around you;
- You are willing to go wherever and whenever God calls; and
- You will commit your time & energy to the service of your
congregation, community, neighbor, coworker or relative.
Lay Speaking Training:
(pdf or Word)
Lay Speaking Resources:
If you are interested in Lay Speaking, contact the Church
Office or Pastor Witt.