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A New Way of Learning


I had a magazine ad that hung in my cubicle for a long time that read, “You are either an agent of change or a victim of it.” There are few constants in life, but change is guaranteed! It can be difficult, or it can be energizing. Sometimes, it is both. Mainly, our attitude towards change makes all the difference.

The Conference Lay Ministry team has been making changes lately. What started as a need to provide lay education courses during the pandemic led us to take a hard look at laity education and how to meet the unique needs of Missouri United Methodist churches. And the work takes me back to a verse in Proverbs when Solomon has become king and asks God for knowledge, wisdom and guidance. Proverbs 1, verse 5 says, “Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance.” This is when Solomon asks God for wisdom and guidance as a new king. Then and now, learning is just the first step, with wisdom and knowledge being the goal, so the laity, no matter where they are leading, can do so well-equipped.

After many meetings, conversations, and “What If’s,” the team had a conversation with the Cabinet and Bishop Farr. We determined we needed a different way to equip and empower the laity. The following areas were identified as priorities: Courses that were more accessible, filled with contextual content and updated, more culturally aware, and prepared and led by knowledgeable instructors.

From these conversations, new learning pathways were formed that will help educate and empower the laity to live into God’s call on their lives while equipping any called laity to pulpit supply and lay minister work. You can see the full certification pathway, from Launching Lay Ministry to Certified Pulpit Supply to Certified Lay Minister at If you are seeking certification, we have developed a FAQ page on the Conference website at

This has been a significant change. There have been numerous iterations of lay education in the past 20 years. But this is different. We are all called and given unique gifts and abilities, so there is no need to be given the status of certified lay servant. We are all lay servants! These changes are about putting education – knowledge – to kingdom work here on earth. We want the laity to be able to dive in and handle whatever comes their way, whether they are leading a team, helping to lead a church, or filling a pulpit. And to help offer more courses in a different way that helps meet the needs of the busy laity, we are also offering an on-demand learning opportunity – Absorb.

Absorb aims to support educational opportunities for those seeking lay certification and to equip local church leaders on various topics that support church work. You can find Absorb at 

A short video is on the page and will take you step-by-step to create an account. Once you do that, you will find a list of courses available. Click on one to learn about the course and expected timeframe to complete the course, and you can see the resources for the course on the right-hand side of the page. More courses will continue to be added in the coming year, both for lay education and for laity who want to learn more about their responsibilities in the local church. 

I am excited about the new ways laity can be educated, equipped and empowered as we all put our gifts and talents to work. The work of Christ needs all of us to give our best, do our best and be our best. Change can be hard, but it is often necessary!