Standardized Training Available for Certified Lay Ministers (CLMs)

Date Posted: 7/30/2015

As the new Conference Director on Lay Servant Ministries, Anna Rohde is explaining the role of a Certified Lay Minister and developing a standard procedure for training and tracking opportunities to serve in a variety of ways.
“There is a tremendous desire among our laity to leave the pew and do more,” says Anna Rohde, longtime Administrative Assistant for the TAC North District. “Certified Lay Minister training is a big step, but if someone feels God leading them this way and I can help them complete the process, I am happy to do it.”
In recent months, Dr. Jesse Brannen, Conference Director of the Center for Congregational Excellence, has been redesigning the infrastructure to strengthen efforts related to Lay Development and asked Anna to serve as the coordinator since she has been involved in helping over 60 individuals in north Texas become CLMs over the last seven years.
Anna has been in the Methodist church for 30 years and at the District Office for 15 years. She is passionate about continuing education, and has been an active member of the Professional Association of UM Church Secretaries and Staff for almost 15 years, including becoming UMC certified in 2003.
Dr. Brannen adds, “When the Cabinet decided the conference needed a point of contact and coordinator for the Certified Lay Ministry, it was clear that Anna is the perfect fit. She has gone through all the training herself and has led the North District’s efforts in developing the CLM program.”
Anna explains that the first step towards Certified Lay Ministry is to complete the Lay Servant Training, Advanced Class.  Certified Lay Servant is the first level of service available, and Certified Lay Minister is the next level, involving certain requirements, recommendations, more training and steps.
What is a Certified Lay Minister?
CLMs usually provide ministry in a part-time or volunteer role in a variety of formats in addition to preaching. According to The Book of Discipline, “The certified lay minister is to preach the Word, provide a care ministry to the congregation, assist in program leadership, and be a witness in the community… as part of a ministry team with the supervision and support of a clergy person.”
The steps to certification involve:

  • Local church recommendation (written recommendation from the local pastor, supporting vote of the church and other leadership groups, as well as, a demonstrated appreciation of United Methodist history and doctrine)
  • Certification as a Lay Servant (completion of the BASIC and an ADVANCED course)
  • Completion of course modules 1-4 of the training
  • District Superintendent recommendation
  • Certification by District Committee on Ordained Ministry (after applying in writing and appearing before the leaders for review and approval of certification)
Anna explains that, “CLMs use their education to fill a pulpit – and much more!” For example, one CLM in Tyler completed the entire process so that he could be more effective at his job as church administrator to a large congregation.  The CLM classes gave him a better understanding of the mission and workings of the United Methodist Church,” shares Anna. “And, Ms. Lou Ellen Brown of Hughes Springs FUMC completed her certification classes and thought outside of the box about how to be of service. Mrs. Brown’s husband’s health limits her time away from home so she saw this opportunity as a way to reach others for Christ. She requested to volunteer at the local funeral home to visit and minister to families without a church affiliation, possibly even helping conduct a funeral – which is just one of many avenues for CLMs to pursue. Additionally, Wesley Foundations, homeless ministries, child development centers, parish nurse programs, new church starts, food pantries, youth programs, Bible studies and more all need assistance and offer opportunities to share the Good News.    
Coming Soon
“The need for CLMs is growing, so I am working with several others to standardize the training cross the conference” adds Anna. She is researching 3-4 locations to offer module trainings twice a year that will be more accessible across the conference. “The good news is that the modules can be taken independently, not in a certain order, and that the initial level of training (Lay Servant Training) will continued to be offered in the districts for ease of completion.” She is excited to help centralize the CLM training to insure consistency in education and achieve accurate record tracking for the entire the conference.  
She wants the entire conference to have access to the best practices developed via the model used by the North District. Once CLMs in her district are certified, for example, they typically meet on a quarterly basis to compare notes, stories and share challenges. She says, “I get so excited to share and facilitate connections and insight on how churches handle certain aspects of ministry and how CLMs are helping in so many different ways. I’m ready to help more people into this role.”
Getting Started
“Not many know what a CLM is and how to become one, so educating and boosting awareness is my first assignment in standardizing the training,” notes Anna. “I am excited to tell the congregations in the conference that we have a program. All they have to do is to give me a name and I will help them through a process that each individual can take at their own pace.”
A section is now available dedicated to CLM Certification including training dates, links to forms and other pertinent information at