The term lay minister is often difficult to define. In its simplest form, it means a minister who is not ordained; however, lay ministry includes much more than simply preaching or teaching church school. Lay ministers serve in many different capacities; their duties can vary according to their denomination. According to the Catholic Bishops of the United States, lay ministers are "co-workers in the vineyard of the Lord."
Lay ministers use their gifts in service to the church and community. The chaplain making hospital visitations is likely a lay minister, there to offer support and comfort to families and patients during a tough and frightening time.
Lay ministers serve the needs of the community, feeding the homeless, running food pantries to aid the poor and more. Lay ministries like New York's LAMP (Lay Apostolic Ministry with the Poor) visit nursing home patients as they share their faith.
Lay Pastor Service
Lay pastors fill an important role in the Protestant church. According to Christ Community United Methodist Church, lay pastors are called to lead one or more of the ministries of the local congregation. The ordained minister is called to lead the church while the lay pastor is called to serve the congregation through its various ministries.
Lay pastors lead music and teaching ministries, including community outreach and evangelism. Lay ministers provide support and assistance to members of the local congregation in need. They also lead Sunday school and Bible study classes. Others serve as youth pastors and choir directors or music ministers.
Serving the Church
The church is a complex organisation requiring administrative leadership in various departments. People are called according to their talents to serve as lay ministers, managing financial, legal and other administrative matters.
Larger churches often pay a business administrator, but smaller churches utilise volunteers from the congregation to deal with the budget and legal matters. Other church members manage the church's website and computer network as their ministry. The internet has increasingly become an important aspect of the church's outreach.