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Volunteer Lay Pastors Ministry

Guidelines for Volunteer Lay Pastors were approved at the North American Division (NAD) year end meetings on October 31, 2017. These guidelines were developed to provide best practices to conferences that choose to supplement pastoral care for their congregations with Volunteers Lay Pastors. 

Guidelines Enable Kingdom Growth

Conferences may choose to implement the Volunteer Lay Pastors Ministry to assist in the advancement of the mission of the church in the North American Division (NAD). This ministry of Volunteer Lay Pastors is all about kingdom growth: (1) It puts more hands on deck, pastors alone cannot finish the mission, (2) It facilitates the church planting movement in our Division, since it is nearly impossible to plant the amount of churches needed with the present number of pastors, and (3) It provides financial flexibility, giving conferences the ability to place Volunteer Lay Pastors in certain churches (preferably smaller churches) while allocating the budgets for full-time pastors to areas where the ministry of full-time pastors may be more needed and effective.

Best Practices for Volunteer Lay Pastors

Both, the need and the conversation for Volunteer Lay Pastors originated locally. Presently, some Conferences are implementing the Volunteer Lay Pastors Ministry successfully across North America. Other Conferences are considering successful models with a great interest, while several others are requesting resources, guidelines, encouragement, and NAD approval. The creation of a Volunteer Lay Pastors Ministry in the North American Division is a direct response to the local needs and requests for help.

Guidelines Vetted by Committees and Legal Counsel

After carefully studying the different models across the Division and vetting the ministry through countless teams, advisories, and committees, our North American Division Legal Counsel has endorsed it and the Policy Review Committee has voted to recommend a set of guidelines for the functioning of Volunteer Lay Pastors in North America.

Highlights of the recommendations

The Volunteer Lay Pastor will be appointed on a yearly basis by the Conference and will serve without compensation. The implementation of the Volunteer Lay Pastors Ministry must be done according to local and national laws and in consultation with legal counsel.

The responsibilities of the Volunteer Lay Pastor include: leading a congregation or church plant, preaching, teaching, worship planning, visitation, chairing the board, mid-week service, strategic planning for church growth training programs, baptizing, conducting communion services, overseeing reports to the conference. Volunteer Lay Pastors are not authorized to perform weddings, counseling therapy, lead in ordination services, organize or disband churches. The Volunteer Lay Pastor must also attend the training and certification programs required by the local Conference in order to function in such role.

Volunteer Lay Pastor is accountable to senior pastor of district and to Conference Ministerial Director or designee. The Volunteer Lay Pastor Ministry is not a pathway to full time professional ministry.

A complete copy of the Volunteer Lay Pastor proposed guidelines approved by NAD Year End Meetings can be found here.