A variety of lay ministries exist within the MCCA. Many of these are determined by the needs of the local context and are authorised by one, or more, of the courts of the Church. Yet all lay ministries begin with a call from God to the particular area of service. The ministry is being done to God! There are, however, some broad examples of lay ministries which exist across the Connexion. The most common are as follows:
Church School Teacher
This is usually a confirmed member in good standing who has responded to the call of God to teach and instruct persons in the Christian faith through the ministry of the Church School. Because the Church School is the cradle and nursery of the Church, the Church School teacher's ministry is directly related to the challenge given by Jesus to his disciples to "tend the lambs, feed the lambs and feed the sheep. (John 21: 15 - 18). In the preparation of lessons and the conducting of Church School classes the Church School teacher carries out a fundamental and essential ministry within the church.
To become a Church School teacher you must first have the desire to share the Christian faith with others and a willingness to be trained. You need not be a trained Day School teacher to be a Church School teacher, although this would be an asset. At present there is no standard training programme for Church School teachers and each Congregation/Circuit will developed its own programme of training. However, a Connexional certification programme for Church School teachers is being developed and should be available soon.
The Local Preacher is a lay preacher in the Methodist Church. They are called Local Preachers because they will exercise their call to preach in the local context of their Circuit and will not move between Circuits except with the specific understandings of the Superintendent Ministers. At the same time the office of the Local Preacher is connexionally recognised; if a Local Preacher in one Circuit moves to another Circuit their status as a Local Preacher moves with them.
The preacher in the Church is a prophet in the church. The prophet's job is to proclaim the will of God. The Local Preacher stands directly in the line of prophets of the Bible and so continues to proclaim to the present age, "thus says the Lord." The starting point for the Local Preacher is, therefore, the recognition that he or she is called by God to this office. This is the most important, as the primary qualification to be a Local Preacher is a call from God.
A confirmed member in good standing who feels a call from God to preach should speak to either his/her minister or any Local Preacher. The Circuit Local Preachers meeting will be informed of the individual's sense of call and the Superintendent Minister will give to the individual "a note" to assist preachers in the conduct worship. This ‘note' is usually for a period of three (3) months and during that time the individual is considered as being "On Note". The period of being "On Note" is primarily a time of discernment for the aspiring preacher. The individual will assist preachers in certain aspects of leading worship and a report will be given to the Circuit Preachers meeting about the progress of the aspiring preacher. The period of being "On Note" may be extended as the Circuit Local Preachers' Meeting may deem necessary.
After being "On Note" the aspiring Preacher will then become a "Preacher on Trial". During this period the individual will be allowed to conduct worship and preach on their own. The Preacher on Trial will be expected to attend training classes and to sit the Connexional Local Preachers' Examinations. At present there are four (4) examinations - Old Testament, New Testament, Christian Doctrine and Worship and Preaching. These examinations are set every six months. Also during this time the Preacher on Trial will be assessed quarterly on their ability to preach and lead worship.
When all written examinations are completed the Preacher on Trial will be required to:
When all of these have been satisfactorily completed the Circuit Local Preachers' Meeting will the vote to recommend to the Circuit Council that the individual be accredited as a Local Preacher. Following the confirmation of the Circuit Council the individual will be commissioned as a Local Preacher in a public worship service.
A Lay worker is a confirmed member in good standing of the Methodist Church who has been recruited on clear terms of service for employment in a specific area of mission in which his/her expertise from training or experience is required.
The engagement of a Lay Worker will be entered upon with the understanding, on either side that the engagement will not be a lifetime occupation, but it may be terminated honourably by either side, due notice having been given.
The service of a Lay Worker will differ from, on the one hand, an Order of Ministry which expects from the Candidate a lifetime commitment and, on the other hand, those diversities of ministry, voluntary and non-remunerative in character, which manifest a commitment to Christ and the blessing of the Church by the Holy Spirit with gifts and graces for witness and service.
Being a Lay Worker is to respond to the call of God to serve fulltime or part time in a particular area for a period of time. For some it has been the stepping stone to Ordained Ministry.
Examples of Lay Workers are Youth Workers/Directors, Evangelists and Lay Pastors. Usually a service of Commissioning is held at the commencement of the lay workers engagement with the Church.