All Christians are called, through their baptism, to a ministry of love and service to the world.
United Methodists believe "The ministry of the laity flows from a commitment to Christ’s outreaching love. Lay members of The United Methodist Church are, by history and calling, active advocates of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional...”
—¶127, The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church–2016`
The work of the laity is vital for the life of the church and Christ's mission in the world. There are many ways you can use your gifts to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Lay members can serve in ministry through their local church, in the local community, or in missionary service around the globe.
In the United Methodist Church, Lay Servant Ministries is a leadership development program focused on equipping and empowering laypersons who have responded to the call of God to serve in mission and ministry.
Being called to ministry is a serious endeavor. It takes a disciple to make a disciple. Thus we must do all we can to prepare ourselves and others to serve.
The United Methodist Church has established three categories for laypersons in the area of lay servant ministries to develop, prepare, and engage principled Christian leaders for the mission of making disciples for the transformation of the world:
- Certified Lay Servant
- Certified Lay Speaker
- Certified Lay Minister
Is God calling you to become a pastor,
but seminary is not the best path for you?
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, are not ordained or elected into full membership of the annual conference, and do not need a seminary degree.
When serving under appointment, a local pastor performs the usual duties of a pastor, including:
- Preaching and teaching.
- Leading in worship and liturgy.
- Receiving new members.
- Performing the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion in their appointment setting.
- Performing the services of marriage (where state laws allow), burial and confirmation.
A local pastor’s authority is only within their appointment setting and does not extend beyond it. The license of local pastors must be renewed annually by the district committee on ministry (dCOM).
In order to be licensed as a local pastor, you first need to be certified as a candidate for ministry.
Feeling Called to Ordained Ministry?
The work of ministry, which all Christians have been called to perform, is an extension of the ministry of Christ. When we come into relationship with Christ and are baptized we accept God’s invitation to become active participants in God's work in our world. Though all Christians are called into the ministry of servanthood through virtue of their baptism, God calls some, from within the body, for specialized ministries. Elders and Deacons are such individuals.
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.
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.
Elders are ordained United Methodist clergy who are called 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 where the bishop assigns them.
Do you feel God might be calling you to serve in ministry ?
Untied Methodists believe that all Christians are called through their baptism to the ministry of servanthood in the world to the glory of God and for human fulfillment. Even though the forms of ministry and shape of calling are diverse, we are all united through the One who calls us. There are many ways you can follow God’s call.
To begin your journey,
Speak with your local church pastor, campus minister, youth pastor or another United Methodist clergy about your call.
Read “The Christian as Minister” and talk with them about it.
Reach out to your district superintendent to discuss your next steps for candidacy.