PASTORAL MINISTRY HANDBOOK | CHAPTER 3
The Lay Minister license is granted by a local church to affirm a person’s call to ministry in the local church. They intend to use the gifts God has given them to perform specific acts of ministry and leadership in the local churches where they are members, under the guidance and direction of the senior pastor.
This license is used for those who are recognized volunteer or paid staff in a local church. Persons holding this license are not assumed to be pursuing status as a specialized, national conference minister or ordained elder.
To become a candidate for a Lay Minister license, persons must do the following:
1. Hold membership in the local United Brethren church to which they apply for at least one year.
2. Verify that they have completed the equivalent of a standard high school education.
3. Demonstrate faithfulness to the expectations of members (UB Discipline, chapter 4), adherence to the moral and social standards of the church (UB Discipline, chapters 4-6), and conformity to the general expectations of ministers (UB Discipline, chapter 7).
Licensing of the Lay Minister
The following procedure is established for the licensing of a Lay Minister:
1. Referral of the Senior Pastor
After consulting with the candidate to determine God’s call and the candidate’s suitability for ministry, the senior pastor shall refer the candidate to an examining committee.
The senior pastor shall arrange for an examining committee composed of the cluster leader (or his appointee), the senior pastor, and one other member of the local church. The cluster leader will serve as chairman of the examining committee. The candidate shall present the following to the committee:
a. Three letters of reference. These letters are to be obtained from acquaintances of the candidate and should give evidence of the candidate’s faithfulness in Christian living and suitability for ministerial licensing. They should be obtained from the following:
(1) The senior pastor of the church where the candidate is a member.
(2) The lay leader (or a key layperson) of the church where the candidate is a member.
(3) The chairperson of the Personnel Relations Team of the church where the candidate is a member.
b. A copy of his/her high school &/or college diploma.
c. Written responses to the following:
(1) Do you believe our Confession of Faith as set forth in our Discipline?
(2) Describe your conversion experience, journey of faith, and call to ministry.
(3) What is your motive in seeking this lay minister license?
(4) Are you satisfied with the moral and social standards and the government of the church, and will you maintain them on all occasions?
(5) Will you submit yourself to the official counsel of your fellow Christians?
(6) Define the following terms: depravity, redemption, faith, repentance, justification, regeneration, and sanctification.
(7) Is it your purpose, if received, to remain permanently with the church?
(8) Have you ever pled guilty to or been convicted of any crime?
(9) Have you ever been charged with child neglect or abuse?
(10) Has your driver’s license ever been suspended or revoked?
(11) Are you abstaining from the use of beverage alcohol, illicit drugs, and tobacco?
Based on the above documents and any others the committee may require, the candidate shall be examined to determine matters of personal integrity, commitment to the Christian faith, ministerial call, relationships with others, spiritual maturity, and understanding of the doctrinal distinctives, history, and polity of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, USA.
3. Report to the Local Church
Following the examination, the examining committee shall report its findings to the local church and make any recommendations it deems consistent with its findings. Pending a favorable recommendation from the examining committee, the local church may choose to grant a Lay Minister license.
4. Notify the Bishop
The cluster leader shall file a report of the examination and action taken with the bishop. This report should include copies of all documentation presented to the committee.
5. Licensing Status
a. Temporary License. Prior to completion of the course of study (outlined below), the Lay Minister license is considered temporary and must be renewed annually until a permanent license is obtained.
b. Permanent License. When the course of study has been completed, the examining committee shall once again examine the candidate. If the committee so recommends, the local church may grant a permanent Lay Minister license to the candidate.
6. Course of Study
a. All persons who have been granted a temporary lay minister license shall pursue a course of study in which they shall read and be examined on 16 books. These books shall be chosen from a reading list prepared by the Pastoral Ministries Leadership Team.
b. To be eligible for annual renewal, those holding a temporary license must read and pass an examination on four books. The examination will be administered by the senior pastor. When 16 books have been read and the examinations passed, the candidate shall be eligible for a permanent Lay Minister license.
7. Transferring the License
When the Lay Minister, both permanent and probationary, transfers their membership from one United Brethren church to another, the license is automatically transferred once the receiving church has confirmed the transfer of membership.
8. Loss of the License
Local churches have the authority to revoke the license of the Lay Minister whose life and ministry are inconsistent with the expectations detailed in the Discipline. Failure to retain membership in a United Brethren church will also result in loss of license.
9. Annual Renewal
This license must be renewed each year by the local church, with a notation of the action taken made on the license by the cluster leader. Renewal is subject to the following conditions:
a. An annual report must be made to the local church. This report may be made in person or in writing.
b. Progress is being made in the required course of study (as stated above). Should a Lay Minister fail to complete the equivalent of two years of academic work within any four-year period, the license shall be considered null and void.
Expectations of Lay Ministers
In addition to the general expectations of all ministers and members in the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, USA, the Lay Minister is expected to faithfully fulfill the following:
1. Annual Reporting
a. The Lay Minister, both permanent and probationary, is expected to file an annual report of their activities with the local church to which they belong.
b. When serving as a supply pastor, a Lay Minister will also file an annual report with the bishop and cluster leader.
a. Since this license is granted by the local church, a Lay Minister is accountable to the local church of which they are members.
b. If they are serving as a supply pastor, they are also required to participate in and be accountable to a cluster.
3. Ministerial Service
a. The Lay Minister shall work under the direction of their senior pastor and bishop. They may be asked to supply pulpits when ministers are ill or on vacation, serve as supply pastors, or do specific acts of ministry as part of the overall ministry of their local church or the denomination.
b. When serving as a supply pastor, the Lay Minister is authorized to officiate at funerals and weddings and to administer the ordinances of baptism and communion.