By Sandy Jackson, General Board of Discipleship
In 2012, the General Conference of The United Methodist Church approved legislation to change the name of Lay Speaking Ministries to Lay Servant Ministries. For several quadrennia, various name changes had been proposed--none of which adequately described the role of this leadership development program.
The term 'servant' was chosen because it best describes what Jesus told his disciples in John 13 after He performed the duties of the lowliest servant. All should be honored to serve as the Lord and Savior did. Christians are called to live out discipleship as servants in leadership.
There is no change in the process of becoming a local church or certified 'lay servant' from the 'lay speaker' process. There was, however, a role of lay speaker added to the program that includes specific preparation and accountability processes.
Lay speakers meet the requirements as listed for certified lay servants. In addition, all must complete the following required courses after the basic course: Discovering Spiritual Gifts, Planning Worship, Leading Prayer, Preaching, Living Our United Methodist Beliefs and United Methodist Polity.