Culture of Calling
Do you think God might be calling you to ministry? Are you still trying to learn about the different ways you might be called to serve? Start here to learn more about and compare the variety of lay and ordained ministry roles.
LAY SERVANT MINISTRIES
A leadership development program in the United Methodist Church focused on equipping and empowering laypersons who have responded to the call of God to serve in mission and ministry. These laypersons are called to live out their own discipleship as servants in leadership through ministries of leading, caring and communicating.
CERTIFIED LAY SERVANT
A certified lay servant serves the local church or charge (and/or beyond) and:
- provides program leadership, assistance and support.
- leads meetings for prayer, training, study and discussion.
- conducts or assists in conducting services of worship, preaches the Word or gives addresses.
- provides congregational and community leadership and fosters caring ministries.
- assists in the distribution of the elements of Holy Communion.
- teaches the Scriptures, doctrine, organization, and ministries of The United Methodist Church.
Certified lay servants who wish to develop their skills further may choose a track to become certified as lay speakers or as lay ministers.
CERTIFIED LAY SPEAKER
A certified lay speaker is called specifically to pulpit supply and serves by preaching the Word when requested by the pastor, district superintendent, or committee on lay servant ministries in accordance with and compliance with paragraph 341.1 of The Book of Discipline.
HOW DO LAY SPEAKERS DIFFER FROM LAY SERVANTS?
- Lay Speakers are called specifically to occasionally serve a pulpit by preaching the Word when requested
- Education requirements include the Lay Speaker Track of Study and 1 Advanced Course every 3 years
CERTIFIED LAY MINISTER
A certified lay minister is called to long-term, intentional ministry and serves as part of a ministry team with the supervision and support of a clergyperson and:
- conducts public worship.
- cares for the congregation.
- develops new faith communities.
- preachs the Word.
- leads small groups.
- establishes outreach ministries.
- serves as a class leader.
- assists in program leadership.
- engages in specialized ministries after appropriate training.
HOW DO LAY MINISTERS DIFFER FROM LAY SPEAKERS?
- Lay Ministers fill an ongoing need for congregational leadership (would be assigned to a church as its minister)
- Education requirements include Lay Minister-specific classes
LICENSED LOCAL PASTOR
A local pastor answers God’s call to serve the mission of Jesus Christ typically by serving a local congregation in The United Methodist Church. They need not make themselves available as itinerant ministers and are not ordained or elected into full membership of the annual conference.
HOW DO LICENSED LOCAL PASTORS DIFFER FROM LAY SERVANT MINISTRIES?
- Licensed Local Pastors perform all the pastoral duties for a church or charge
- Education requirements include Local Pastor-specific education and training (which can include seminary for those seeking to become an Elder or Deacon)
Deacons are clergy leaders who are called by God, authorized by the church and ordained by a bishop to a lifetime ministry of word, service, compassion and justice. Deacons exemplify Christian discipleship, nurture others in their relationship to God and lead church people to respond to the needs of the needy, neglected and marginalized of the world.
In the congregation, deacons teach, preach, officiate at funerals and weddings, offer pastoral care, assist the elder in administering Baptism and Holy Communion, lead discipleship development ministries and help lay people identify and claim their own ministries. Deacons lead the congregation in its servant ministry and equip and support all baptized Christians in their ministry. Through the Order of Deacons, The United Methodist Church affirms this historic, central and distinct ministry.
Outside the walls of the church, deacons share the good news in word and in their advocacy for the poor, neglected, oppressed and discouraged; provide ministries of mercy; and invite Christians into these ministries.
HOW DO DEACONS DIFFER FROM LICENSED LOCAL PASTORS?
- Deacons perform certain pastoral duties for a church or charge at the discretion of either the Pastor or Bishop
- Primary duties focus on work outside the church, or bridging the church to the world
- Education requirements include a Masters degree (either M.Div. from a University Senate-approved seminary or other appropriate degree)
Elders are ordained United Methodist clergy who are ordained to a ministry of Word, Sacrament, Order, and Service. This means elders preach and teach the Word of God, provide pastoral care and counsel, administer the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion and order the life of the church for service in mission and ministry. The servant leadership of the elder takes place both in parish ministry, as well as in extension ministries, like chaplaincy, campus ministry, teaching, missionary work, general agency work and other contexts. Elders itinerate, which means they serve in ministry settings (appointments) where the bishop assigns them.
HOW DO ELDERS DIFFER FROM DEACONS?
- Elders are the primary performers of pastoral duties for a church or charge
- Elders agree to be itinerant and go where they can best serve the United Methodist Church as a whole
- Must have an M.Div. from a University Senate-approved seminary