Certified Lay Minister


Book of Discipline

“The certified lay minister serves to enhance the quality of ministry much like a class leader did in early Methodism through service in the local church, circuit or cooperative parish, or by expanding team ministry in other churches and charges. As with lay ministry in early Methodism, the certified lay minister uses his or her spiritual gifts as evidence of God’s grace.”

(2016 BOD, ¶268)


Four Major Components

There are four major components to the formation of Certified Lay Ministers:

  1. Training
  2. Supervision
  3. Support
  4. Accountability

What is a Certified Lay Minister?

Laity have long been a part of ministry in Methodism. Lay preachers, exhorters, and class leaders have served the church since its earliest days.

Certified Lay Ministers (CLMs)  usually provide ministry in part-time or volunteer roles in a variety of formats and areas:

  • in visitation and care ministry
  • as a parish nurse (with appropriate training and certification)
  • in prison ministry such as KAIROS
  • assist in program leadership
  • as a small group leader
  • conduct public worship
  • preach the word
  • as a missionary or church planter
  • develop new and existing faith communities – that are not stand-alone parishes; house churches, ethnic fellowships, small faith communities
  • in Ethnic Ministries
  • as Hispanic/Latino Lay Missioners
  • as a pastor of a small church as part of a ministry team
  • on a pastoral team on multi-point charges or parishes to assist in continuity of leadership
  • as a pastoral associate in a larger church
  • multi-cultural or cross-cultural groups by developing indigenous leadership
  • establish community outreach ministries as part of a ministry team with the supervision of and support of a clergyperson 


Phases for Certification:


Access and print the document:   Attachment B

Begin utilizing Attachment B and document the dates completed in the document.  This is your official record for yourself and District Committee On Ministry  (dCOM).   Complete numbers 1 – 4.



Obtain written recommendation of the pastor and supporting vote of the church council or charge conference where one holds membership.   A candidate should be prepared to  demonstrate an appreciation of United Methodist history, doctrine, polity, worship and liturgy through service in one’s local church.



Become a Lay Servant if you have not attained that status, that is, taken the Fundamentals/Basic course and one advanced course.  Connect to your district’s dCOM  through your pastor who will let them know that you have the intention of becoming a CLM candidate.  Next will be number 5 in the checklist.  If you pass the conference lay servant evaluation, then you will proceed to the next phase.



Complete numbers 6, 7, and 8 – the dCOM registrar can assist you.  Completing number 8 will move you into number 9.  Schedule an introductory meeting with your dCOM through your registrar.  Complete and submit a Faith Journey Questionnaire to your registrar for use in your introductory meeting.  Be prepared to discuss number 10 at your introductory meeting.



Begin and complete work on Modules 1 and 2 (numbers 11 – 14 ) with your assigned mentor.  If you do not have a mentor, contact your dCOM registrar for assistance.  Examine and resolve number 15 after completion of Module 2    If continuing the CLM candidacy, the candidate commits to undergoing a psych evaluation.



Complete numbers 16 – 20.  Attachment I is submitted to the dCOM.  If the candidate is ready (in the dCOM’s estimation), the dCOM will recommend certification to the conference committee on lay servant ministries, who will then return their decision to the dCOM.  (There should have been a discussion long before this between the candidate, their pastor, and their D.S. as to a likely assignment.)



Upon the CCLSM’s affirmation of certification, the dCOM notifies the candidate via email or regular mail of the decision, with copies to the person’s pastor and DS.  The CLM, their pastor, and their D.S. will now move into the assignment phase and the CLM should review Attachment H for suitability.



Certified Lay Minister Re-certification (paraphrase):

… a Certified Lay Minister (CLM) may be renewed every two years by the Conference Committee on Lay Servant Ministries (CCLSM) after the CLM has:

  a) submitted an annual report to the charge conference and to the Conference Committee on Lay Servant Ministries (CCLSM)    showing a satisfactory performance as a CLM;


  b) obtained a ministry review by … a supervisory board of the ministry setting in which he or she is assigned;


  c) completed a Lay Servant Ministries advanced course or approved continuing education event in the last two years;


  d) obtained recommendation for recertification from their district superintendent (DS);


  e) had all requirements for recertification reviewed by the CCLSM for referral to their district committee on ministry (dCOM)    for examination and to make recommendations for recertification (see ¶ 666.10). After the dCOM  interviews the CLM, the dCOM will make a recommendation to the CCLSM for final recertification by that committee. (2016 BOD, ¶ 268.4)


Transfer of Certification

“A certified lay minister may transfer certification to another district or conference upon receipt of a letter from the previous conference committee on Lay Servant Ministries, or equivalent structure, confirming current certification and the completion date of the most recent advanced course taken. Further renewal is in accordance with  2016 BOD,¶ 268.4.” 



The committee (dCOM) shall examine all persons who apply in writing to be certified as lay ministers. When there is evidence that their gifts, evidence of God’s grace and usefulness, and that they are qualified under ¶ 268, and on recommendation of their charge conference, the committee shall recommend their certification or recertification.

d) received a letter of recommendation from one’s district superintendent; (2016 BOD, ¶ 666)
A certified lay minister is assigned by a district superintendent in accordance with ¶ 419.2. (2016 BOD, ¶ 268)
The superintendent shall work with the bishop and cabinet in the process of appointment and assignment for ordained and licensed clergy, or assignment of qualified and trained laypersons, lay ministers (certified lay speakers) or lay missioners (¶ 205.4) ¶ 419.2. (2016 BOD, ¶ 419.2)
When a pastoral charge is not able to be served by an ordained or licensed minister, the bishop, upon recommendation of the cabinet, may assign a qualified and trained layperson, lay minister (certified lay speaker) or lay missioner to do the work of ministry in that charge. The layperson is accountable to the district superintendent or another ordained or licensed minister appointed to oversee the charge, who will make provision for sacramental ministry. Upon the bishop’s assignment, the layperson will be assigned an additional clergyperson as a guide to provide support in the assignment. If the assignment is to continue longer than one year, within that year the layperson will begin the process of becoming either a certified lay minister or a certified candidate, thus coming under the care of the District Committee on Ministry (dCOM). The layperson assigned is also accountable to the policies and procedures of the annual conference where assigned. (2016 BOD, ¶ 205.4)
A certified lay minister is not eligible for support by equitable compensation funds or pension funds that are provided for clergy. If a certified lay minister is a lay staff member of a church, circuit or cooperative parish, the local congregation is encouraged to provide compensation and withhold taxes appropriate to a layperson. (2016 BOD, ¶268.6)