Lay Speaking

Have you ever wondered what a Lay Speaker is? Does the thought of standing at the pulpit, delivering a sermon, cause you to break out in a cold sweat? Well then, please read on and I will try and answer the first question and reassure you regarding the second.

Lay Speaking harkens back the very roots of the Methodist Church. During the early organization of the Wesleyan revival in England, lay speaker ministers became active because there were more congregations than ordained clergy. The use of lay assistants helped fulfill John Wesley’s goal of no silent pulpits. Today, this special ministry is much more than standing-in for pastors who are away from their pulpits for vacation, illness or other reasons. Lay Speakers are challenged to expand the domain in which Lay Speakers serve, and seek out opportunities for spiritual growth and faith sharing.

There are actually two levels of Lay Speaking. The first is a Local Church Lay Speaker (LCLS). This is a person who has taken the Basic Course which is a 10 hour class that focuses on three primary areas of Lay Speaking ministry: Caring, Leading and Communicating. The second is a Certified Lay Speaker (CLS). This individual has taken the Basic Course along with an Advanced Course. The Advanced Courses cover a variety of different areas of ministry including Prison Ministries, Clown Ministries, Storytelling, Christian Drama, and Ministries to persons with Mental Illnesses or Deafness to name just a few.

As you can see, Lay Speaking covers a wide range of ministries besides preaching. There are many excellent Lay Speakers who have never stood at the pulpit to preach a sermon, but have touched countless lives thru their service to the local church by means of Lay Speaking.

Please prayerfully consider becoming involved in this challenging and rewarding ministry.

Definition of a Lay Speaker

(Taken from the VA UMC website)
Lay Speaking is not just filling pulpits. Lay Speaking Ministries as defined in the Book of Discipline offers wonderful possibilities for expanding the work of lay speakers. The classes described below suggest many areas of ministry as well as offering ideas for expanding the role beyond what we have traditionally understood.

The whole issue of how Lay Speaking Ministers can assist our congregations and communities is limited only by your imagination and willingness to serve as a representative of Jesus Christ.

The 2008 Book of Discipline States

Paragraph 270.2 “Lay speakers are to serve the local church or charge (or beyond the local church or charge) in any way in which their witness or leadership and service inspires the laity to deeper commitment to Christ and more effective discipleship, including the interpretation of the scriptures, doctrine, organization, and ministries of the church.”

Paragraph 270.3 “Through continued study and training a lay speaker should prepare to undertake one or more of the following functions, giving primary attention to service within the local church or charge:
•  To take initiative in giving leadership, assistance, and support to the program emphases of the church.
•  To lead meetings for prayer, training, study, and discussion when requested by the pastor, district superintendent, or committee on lay speaking.
•  To conduct, or assist in conducting, services of worship, and present sermons and addresses when requested by the pastor, district superintendent, or committee on lay speaking.
•  To relate to appropriate committees and ministry areas in providing leadership for congregational and community life and fostering care-giving ministries.”

Lay Speaking Ministers (LSM) are

•   Called by God to a ministry of caring, communicating (listening and speaking), and leading in their church;
•   Active supportive members of a United Methodist Church, well informed on the Scripture, the doctrine, heritage, organization, and life of the UMC;
•   Committed to witnessing through church and community leadership, care-giving ministries, listening & spoken communications, and willing to improve his or her skills for service.

Local Church Lay Speakers (LCLS)

Serve in and through their local congregations. To become a Local Church Lay Speaker, you must: – Be recommended by your pastor and Church Council or Charge Conference. – Complete the Basic Course for Lay Speaking; and – Annually reapply on the “Lay Speaker’s Annual Report”, reporting how you have served and continued to learn.

Certified Lay Speakers (CLS)

Serve in their own church, in other churches and through district and conference projects and programs. To be recognized as a Certified Lay Speaker, you must:

•   Have the same recommendations as a LCLS;
•   Complete the Basic Course;
•   Complete one Advanced Lay Speaking course;
•   Be interviewed and approved by your District or Conference Committee on Lay Speaking Ministries.
•   Reapply and report annually on the “Lay Speaker’s Annual Report” on how you served and continue to learn; and
•   Complete at least one advanced course every 3 years.

You are ready to become a Lay Speaker if:

•   You are willing to share your faith with those around you;
•   You are willing to go wherever and whenever God calls; and
•   You will commit your time & energy to the service of your congregation, community, neighbor, coworker or relative.

Lay Speaking Resources


If you are interested in Lay Speaking, contact the Church Office or Pastor Wray.