Lay Training


open books and computer on table

The Academy offers a ten month, web-based, training program for lay persons wishing to serve the church in leadership roles.

The Lay Academy program helps lay persons discover their call to ministry and focus on the area they are called to serve. It has trained over 300 lay persons to serve the local church.


Discovering Your Call to Ministry

The Discovering Your Call to Ministry online course will help you discover your gifts and call to ministry. During the four weeks you will take a spiritual gifts inventory and explore your gifts for ministry, read how God called those in the Bible and how your call might be similar to theirs, and finally develop a clear statement of your call and gifts for ministry.

Your guide and instructor over the four weeks is Carl Ellis, an ordained pastor in the United Methodist Church, who has taught and mentored hundreds of lay persons moving into ministry. His goal is to help each person discover God’s call and gifts which will guide their ministry in the days, months and years to come.

Foundations for Ministry

The Foundations for Ministry course helps Certified Lay Ministers, first time pastors, and District Superintendent Assignment persons develop best practices for serving the local church in sermon writing, developing relationships with their congregation, building mission and vision. This class is also appropriate for pastors moving to new congregations.

This course is a blend of academic learning with practical on the job training. It allows the student to learn through both academic and hands on experience.

The course focuses on a different aspect of ministry each month with all work and discussion forums taking place online, including monthly meetings.

Certified Lay Ministry (CLM)

The Great Plains Conference Committee on Lay Servant Ministry has approved the Lay Academy curriculum as equivalent to the Four Modules for Certified Lay Ministry published by Discipleship Ministries.

After completing the Lay Academy curriculum, the CLM candidate would also be required to complete the approved courses on the New Testament, Old Testament, and Preaching.

How the Lay Academy courses works

Lay persons wishing to serve as leaders are trained through The Lay Academy’s four week or ten month, web-based program. Students work online, completing assignments each week.

There are three basic assignments: Reading and reflecting on books and articles on key areas of leadership in the church, participating in forums to reflect on other students’ writings and perspectives, and monthly online meetings where students and instructors work on 11 key areas for leadership in the church.

The web-based program allows students freedom to study and write at times that work into their schedule, while also providing the opportunity for interaction with their instructors and other students.

Apply and register for courses


In addition to the online courses, the Academy sets up tailored workshops, training sessions, and on-going coaching for churches, districts, and groups looking to grow disciples. The Academy’s director is further available to speak with your ministry group about the secrets of flourishing rural ministries.

A church growth workshop, followed by two years of online coaching, is also available. Each workshop is tailored to the needs of individual churches.