Certified Lay Minister
General Conference 2004 approved the formation of the Certified Lay Ministry position - a new lay position for pastoral leadership in the church. This position may involve all pastoral functions except for those duties that require ordination (ex. baptism, communion).
The Certified Lay Minister:
- shall preach the Word
- provide a care ministry to the congregation
- assist in program leadership
- be a witness in the community for the growth, missional, and connectional thrust of The United Methodist Church
Whereas some are called to a certain ministry and then find a church, the CLM program may be best for situations where a church or ministry has a need and someone in that membership is called to help out in a larger way. CLM allows the church/ministry to add workers without the higher expense of ordained clergy. The CLM may help out in all ministries, or they may specialize in one or more areas. This decision will depend on the needs of the church/ministry and the gifts of the CLM. The responsibilities should be spelled out in the covenant.
The Certified Lay Minister is assigned by the District Superintendent to provide lay pastoral leadership in a ministry or local church.
What is a Certified Lay Minister?
Laity have long been a part of ministry in Methodism. Lay preachers, exhorters, and class leaders have served served the church since its earliest days. Certified Lay Ministers (CLM) can play a ministerial role in a variety of formats, such as:
- serving small churches that have trouble affording a traditional pastor.
- serving on a pastoral team on multi-point charges or parishes to assist in continuity of leadership.
- serving as a pastoral associate in a larger church.
- serving multi-cultural or cross-cultural groups by developing indigenous leadership.
Steps to become a Certified Lay Minister
In the Louisiana Conference
The steps to be accomplished are:
1. Read and discuss with your pastor The Christian as Minister and ¶271 (2008 BOD).
- Must be a certified lay speaker or equivalent as defined by his/her DCOM.
- Consult with and obtain a letter of recommendation by the pastor of the local church where he/she holds membership.
- Affirmative vote (2/3) to be recommended by the Charge Conference from the congregation where he/she is a member.
- Submit the Personal Data Inventory, the Application to begin the coursework and undergo the necessary screening to be sent to the District CLM registrar – a member of the DCOM.
- Be in contact (written letter of intent and personal interview) with the District Superintendent about desires, goals for service, and assignment of an equipping pastor.
- Be recommended in writing by his/her District Superintendent following the background and consumer credit screenings (Cost $35.00) and complete the UMC Candidate Disclosure Form 114.
- Complete the prescribed psychological assessment to determine fitness for ministry ($200.00 by the CLM, $100.00 by the local church, and $50.00 by the District).
- Apply in writing (a letter of intent) to their District Committee on Ordained Ministry when training is completed requesting an interview for CLM certification.
- Appear before the DCOM for review and approval.
The following points should be examined by the DCOM:
1. All 4 modules of the basic CLM Training have been completed (other training may be required by the Louisiana Conference).
2. Candidate for certification can demonstrate appreciation of the history, polity, doctrine, worship and liturgy of The United Methodist Church through service in his/her local church.
3. An “equipping pastor” has been assigned to advise the candidate in his/her ministry.
4. A “Mutual Ministry Team” comprised of the CLM, District Superintendent, Equipping Pastor and representatives of the local church (most likely a subcommittee of the S/PPRC) have developed and submitted a Ministry Covenant Agreement, ideally using the Louisiana Conference CLM Covenant Worksheet.
Upon a successful interview, the DCOM will grant certification status that serves as eligibility for assignment to a specific ministry by the District Superintendent.
Once certified as a CLM, the individual is required to apply in writing for recertification annually by their DCOM after successful completion of the following:
- Ministry review by the charge conference from the congregation where he/she is a member.
- Satisfactory completion of a continuing education event (at least equivalent to an Advanced Lay Speaker Course – or material with prior approval by the District Superintendent or DCOM chair).
- Renewal/updating of their latest CLM Covenant Worksheet covenant agreement.
- Recommendation of the District Superintendent.
- Recommendation by the Equipping Pastor.
- Appear for an interview and recommendation vote by their DCOM.
Different Ministerial Paths:
• An Elder is a clergy member of the Annual Conference, ordained for Word, Sacrament and Order, and appointed by the Bishop for itinerate ministry.
• A Deacon is a clergy member of the Annual Conference, ordained for a ministry of Word and Service, and appointed to a non itinerant ministry in the community and the congregation.
• A Local Pastor is a clergy member of the Annual Conference licensed for pastoral ministry in a specific congregation.
• A Certified Lay Speaker (CLS) is certified for ministry in the church and community and may serve as temporary pulpit suppy.
The CLM would fall somewhere in-between a local pastor and a CLS. The education requirements are much less than those for a local pastor (who must complete the Course of Study). Local pastors are licensed to perform the sacraments at a charge, whereas the CLM is not. A CLS is usually a volunteer and not employed by the church. A CLS must complete only 2 courses to be certified.
The local church is encouraged to cover appropriate expenses of the CLM as negotiated (mileage, supplies, continuing education). Financial matters such as expenses, benefits, and any salary/stipend should be spelled out in the covenant agreement written at the end of module 1. Since CLMs are laity, they have no clergy rights or benefits.
Oversight: There are 4 groups/persons that work with the CLM to help them in their ministry.
1) District Superintendent
The DS (or designate) is a member of the mutual ministry team that guides each CLM's ministry. They assign the CLM to a local church. It is the DS (or perhaps the bishop) that assigns the CLM to a congregation.
From the Discipline ¶419.g
(The district superintendent shall oversee the total ministry ...) by assigning persons such as certified lay ministers to churches who do not have appointed clergy
From the Discipline ¶421.5.a
To make specific provision for the support and supervision of certified lay ministers or other laity assigned within the district.
2) District Committee on Lay Speaking Ministries
While the Discipline made no provision for a District Committee on CLM, the District Committee on LSM does include a directive to match CLMs with service opportunities and to support and affirm CLMs.
From the Discipline ¶ 665.3.
The responsibilities of a district committee on Lay Speaking Ministries are to provide basic training for local church lay speakers and advanced courses for certified lay speakers as recommended by the General Board of Discipleship, or as approved by the conference committee on Lay Speaking Ministries; to decide who will be recognized as certified lay speakers; to help match lay speakers and certified lay ministers with service opportunities; and to support and affirm lay speakers and certified lay ministers as they serve.
The CLM will be assigned a supervising pastor.. This may often be the pastor of the church to which the CLM is assigned, since the pastor is a part of the mutal ministry team. In addition, the DS may assign a designate to fill in for him/her.
4) Local Church
Members of the local church will be a part of the mutual ministry team. This team will create a covenant for the CLM and the local church.
The local church charge conference shall review the CLM annually, as set forth in the Discipline.
From the Discipline ¶ 247.11.
The charge conference shall inquire annually into the gifts, labors, and usefulness of the lay speakers and certified lay ministers related to the charge and recommend to the district and/or conference committee on lay speaking those persons who have met the standards set forth for a local church lay speaker and/or for certified lay speaker and certified lay minister.
From the 2012 Discipline paragraph 268
In order to enhance the quality of ministry to small membership churches, expand team ministry in churches and in deference to an expression of gifts and evidence of God’s grace associated with the lay ministry of early Methodism, the certified lay minister is to be recognized and utilized.
1.) The certified lay minister shall preach the Word, provide a care ministry to the congregation, assist in program leadership, and be a witness in the community for the growth, missional and connectional thrust of The United Methodist Church as part of a ministry team with the supervision and support of a clergy person.
2. A certified lay speaker or a person with equivalent training as defined by his/her district or conference may be certified as a lay minister by the District Committee on Ordained Ministryafter he/she has:
a) Been recommended by the pastor of the local church where he/she holds membership and by vote of the church council or charge conference.
b) Completed courses relevant to his/her assignment including preaching and exegesis, the care of the congregation, and other courses as recommended by the General Board of Discipleship and General Board of Higher Education and Ministry in consultation with leaders in the annual conference, and other appropriate agencies and organizations.
c) Demonstrated appreciation of the history, polity, doctrine, worship and liturgy of The United Methodist Church through service in his/her local church.
d) Been recommended by the district superintendent after completion of appropriate screening.
e) Made application in writing to the District Committee on Ordained Ministry.
f) Appeared before the District Committee on Ordained Ministry for review and approval.
3. The certified lay minister is to apply in writing for recertification biannually to the District Committee on Ordained Ministry upon:
a) Ministry review by church council or charge conference from the congregation of which he/she is a member.
b) Satisfactory completion of an approved continuing education event, and
c) Recommendation of the district superintendent.
4. The certified lay minister under assignment is to appear bi-annually before the District Committee on Ordained Ministry for recertification after:
a) Ministry review by church council or charge conference where assigned,
b) Satisfactory completion of an approved continuing education event, and
c) Recommendation of the district superintendent.
5. Transfer of Certification by Certified Lay Ministers
A certified lay minister who moves may transfer certification to the new district upon receipt of a letter from the previous district’s Committee on Ordained Ministry confirming current certification.
6. The certified lay minister is a layperson and as such is not eligible for support by equitable compensation funds or pension that are provided for clergy members. The local congregation is encouraged to provide appropriate compensation.
History of Lay Ministry Positions in the Church:
As early as 1746, laity were used to assist in ministry. Exhorters and lay preachers might fill the pulpit when the pastor couldn't be there. In the 20th century, the lay speaker position was formed to provide some training for pulpit supply. In the latter decades of the century, additional courses were added to train lay speakers in a variety of ministries, since preaching is only one of the possible ministries. Completing the basic lay speaking course allows a person to be a lay speaker in the local church. Completion of an additional advanced course allows a lay speaker to become a certified lay speaker who can minister beyond the local congregation.
Class leaders and later Sunday school teachers have typically been laity.
The position of diaconal ministry was begun in 1976 for lay people to be consecrated for service within the church and not be required to pursue the education and evaluation necessary for ordination. After January 1, 1997, new candidates were no longer admitted into that avenue of ministry. Existing diaconal ministers (or those already working towards that end) were given three options.
- Complete a program of continuing education to become an ordained deacon.
- Retain lay-ministry standing as diaconal ministers.
- Surrender credentials.
Most of the almost 1500 diaconal ministers in the church transitioned into the deacon position. The disolution of the diaconal minister position created a void for those wanting ministry training but not seeking ordination ... though certification in some areas was still available. After years of discussion, legislation (petition 40558) was proposed and passed at General Conference 2004 to create the Certified Lay Minister position.
To begin the CLM process fill out this form. CLM application form. Application cost is $35 in lieu of $25.