¶810 LAY MINISTERS (TRACKING AND LOCAL)
A lay minister is a member of a Free Methodist Church who has been granted a license by the official board. For some lay ministers (tracking), this will be an entry point into the tracking system that ultimately leads to being credentialed either as a commissioned minister or an ordained minister. Other lay ministers (local) will opt to serve only at the local church level.
Local Lay Minister: a person who is gifted and called by God to provide a level of ministry leadership beyond what is expected of a member within the local church (i.e. gifted in teaching or visitation). This call is affirmed by the local church who responds to the person’s ministry and leadership, and the board who recognize gifts and affirm this call and level of leadership responsibility. While there may be an element of pastoral leadership in this person’s ministry leadership, they do not feel called to pastoral leadership. The person is granted the Lay Minister license (see Ch 3 par 381a) by the board, renewable annually (see par 381b), and is accountable to the board and lead pastor (or designate).
Tracking Lay Minister – a person who is called by God to provide pastoral leadership in the church. This call is affirmed by the local church and the board who see the gifts and graces evident for pastoral leadership and are encouraging the person towards preparing for pastoral leadership through the credentialing process. This is very much a preparation and formation stage where the person will work to gain experience and understanding in general pastoral ministry as well as begin to meet the requirements to fully enter the credentialing process. The person is granted the Lay Minister license (see Ch 3 par 381a) by the board, renewable annually (see par 381b), and is accountable to the board and lead pastor (or
In either case, before a license is granted, the candidate shall be a member of the church long enough to give evidence of gifts and graces suited to Christian ministry. A hunger for God, a blameless life and a motive to serve are desirable attributes. A lay minister shall be amenable to instruction, supervision, and related discipline to assure growth in grace, knowledge, and usefulness.
The lay minister retains membership in the local church, but the MEGaP committee and the credentialing coordinator shall be notified immediately if a license has been issued to either a tracking or local lay minister. The license must be renewed annually by the official board.
To qualify as a lay minister, the person must meet the following requirements (alternate process available for church planters through the Church Planting department):
- be a member of the Free Methodist Church;
- be available for ministry under supervision of the lead pastor;
- be recommended by the pastor or pastor’s cabinet to the official board;
- have completed Bases 1,2,3,4 (or their equivalent);
- The candidate shall be interviewed by the official board to determine the person’s call to lay ministry, and quality of spiritual life, and shall be asked questions such as:
– When and how did you come to know Christ as Lord and Saviour?
– Do you experience the fullness of the Holy Spirit in your life? Are you open to the call of
God to lay ministry
– What preparations and plans are you making in order to follow God’s will for your life?
– To what type of ministry and witness do you believe you are called?
– What is your understanding of the doctrine of justification by faith?
– What is your understanding of the doctrine of sanctification?
For local lay ministers, the person must also meet these additional requirements:
- take and successfully complete the Heart of Canadian Free Methodism foundational course
- demonstrate life-long learning
- actively participate in a small group
- submit a police clearance certificate
The official board may issue a lay minister’s license (see Ch 3 par 381a) and assign responsibility for counsel and guidance to the pastor and/or the pastor’s cabinet. It shall be their responsibility to provide opportunities for lay ministers to develop their gifts in such ways as:
- preaching or teaching the Gospel;
- assisting the pastor in visitation;
- assisting in public worship services;
- participating in a program of witnessing to the unsaved, winning them to Christ, and nurturing them in Christian living.
Lay ministers shall be given regular duties with clear accountability structures.
Though lay ministers maintain their memberships in a local church, they are not eligible to continue to be voting members of an official board once they have been issued a lay minister’s license. If they are board members when they become lay ministers, they may complete their terms on official boards, but they may not be re-elected as board members.
Lay ministers are honorary members of the official board. At the discretion of the lead pastor tracking lay ministers, as part of their training for credentialed ministry, may participate in official board meetings except when the board is dealing with delicate matters related to the life and ministry of the lead pastor or other pastoral staff.
When it is evident to the official board that a lay minister (who desires to enter the tracking system toward ministerial credentials) possesses gifts and graces and a call of God to credentialed ministry, the official board may recommend to the MEGaP committee that this person be interviewed with a view to becoming a ministerial candidate in the conference. Official Boards must exercise careful discernment before approving a tracking lay minister. The question to be kept in mind is whether this person would have the gifts and graces to eventually be accepted as a pastor in his/her home church. Prior to this MEGaP
interview, the lay minister must have established an accountability partner relationship as per ¶801.1.
It is the responsibility of the lead pastor to annually submit to the credentialing coordinator the names of all tracking and local lay ministers in the local church. They shall be listed in the records of the credentialing coordinator.
The official board shall review each lay minister’s license annually for renewal (see Ch 3 par 381b). For each annual renewal, tracking lay ministers are expected to have completed a 3-credit hour course or equivalent. Local lay ministers are expected to demonstrate evidence of their commitment to life-long learning. When not completed, renewal shall be postponed. The pastor shall keep the records and report the list annually to the credentialing coordinator.
The following 3-credit hour courses shall be taken by tracking lay ministers:
- Heart of Canadian Free Methodism (history and polity)
- Introduction to Bible
- Introduction to Christian Doctrine
- Wesleyan Theology
The Heart of Canadian Free Methodism course is the only course that must be taken through foundational courses provided by The Free Methodist Church in Canada. Equivalencies for the other three courses must be taken at an accredited Bible college or seminary, either in person or by distance education. (Wesleyan Theology may also be taken through a foundational course offered from time to time by The Free Methodist Church in Canada.)
Further annual renewals shall be on the basis of the official board’s assessment of effective ministry. Approval for courses for subsequent renewals is available through the credentialing coordinator.
The pastor’s cabinet, personnel committee or equivalent shall do the annual review and the official board shall grant the renewal, upon their recommendation. The official board may revoke a lay minister’s license for violation of its conditions.
A lay minister’s license is not normally transferable to another church. In exceptional cases, a lay minister may have charge of a society under the supervision of an assigned ordained minister. In that case, the lay minister will hold membership in the church served.