School for Lay Ministry Learning Community

Transform Your Ministry in Just One Year with Theologically-Sound Training & Leadership Development

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Unleash Your Leadership Potential with the School for Lay Ministry Learning Community

From preaching and teaching to providing pastoral care or designing worship, faith leaders, like you, serve their congregations in various roles. Often, you do so without the theological background or seminary degrees your colleagues may have. With the School for Lay Ministry, you'll embark on a transformative year-long journey empowering you to lead faithfully, recognizing the vital role you play in a lay-led, clergy-support ministry model.

I'm Ready to Enroll

The material was awesome and I loved the presenter. I am already using some of the things I learned and ideas I received.

Who Should Join the School for Lay Ministry?

Do any of these describe you:

  • You’ve recently been asked to or have taken up a leadership role in your congregation,
  • You’ve been entrusted with giving sermons, teaching Sunday School, or leading adult education,
  • You desire to be a faithful disciple who can help form other disciples,
  • or, you simply yearn to deepen your faith?

Then the School for Lay Ministry is tailor-made for you!

Whether you hold a formal position within your congregation or simply have a burning passion for leadership, our School for Lay Ministry provides a unique opportunity for peer-based learning while emphasizing your pivotal role as pastoral caregivers.


What Will You Learn?

Throughout the year, you'll embark on an enriching journey covering a wide range of topics, including:

  • Crafting impactful sermons from basic exegesis to the hermeneutical circle.
  • Mastering pastoral ministry and effective congregational leadership.
  • Navigating spirituality in the digital age.
  • Delivering compassionate and meaningful funeral sermons.
  • Exploring biblical chronology, from the Pentateuch to the matriarchs and patriarchs.
  • Discovering the intricacies of Church history, American Christianity, and rural ministry.
  • Staying connected to God in the busyness of life and ministry and discerning where Jesus' Church is being led in the 21st Century.

And that's just the beginning! We're proud to share that our online School for Lay Ministry is entering its 3rd year, building upon the success of 2023, with past students leading in their communities as a testament to its effectiveness.

Most importantly...

You'll emerge from the School for Lay Ministry as a well-rounded disciple and leader ready to impact your congregation and community loving and leading in the way of Jesus. Connect with God on a deeper level and learn innovative ways to share the story of Jesus, all within a supportive community. Together, we'll cultivate relationships that offer unwavering support as you champion justice and adapt ministry models for the modern world.

How Does It Work?

Each month, you'll enjoy online lessons you complete at your own pace. Then, meet together with your cohort and Rev. Marianne to process what you've learned and put it into practice.


Step 1: Learn at Your Pace with On-Demand Lessons

Monthly lessons are available on-demand so that you can fit them into your schedule

  • Access our on-demand lessons at your convenience.
  • Each month, explore the course materials. You'll be engaged by our interactive activities and videos from trusted guides. Each unit includes spiritual practices and ideas you can start using in your community right away.

Step 2: Monthly Cohort Meetings

Calls are on Saturdays from 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. Central

  • Join live monthly meetings to collaborate with your cohort and our experienced facilitator to process online learning and apply insights.
  • Can't make a meeting? No worries! We record each session for later viewing.

Woman at laptop doing an online Bible study with others over Zoom.

Step 3: Embrace Growth as You Serve

Put what you're learning into practice and get support from your cohort

  • Apply your newfound knowledge to your ministry context.
  • Receive unwavering support from your cohort throughout the year, fostering growth in faith, confidence, and leadership.

Here's What You'll Learn...


You Can Preach!

Gain the tools and skills you need to preach faithful sermons. In this unit, you’ll discover spiritually nourishing ways to prepare and deliver sermons that will connect and uplift your community.


Your Spiritual Life Sustains Your Ministry

Take the mystery and overwhelm out of how to connect with God and grow in your faith. You’ll come away with fresh practices and be renewed in ways that will sustain you for life and leadership in the church and world.


Your Gifts Are Needed

Stop questioning whether you have spiritual gifts! This unit gives you the biblical basis for spiritual gifts, skills in how to recognize and encourage others in their gifts, and tools to help you use your gifts to serve God and others.


You Can Plan Worship— Together

By the end of this module, you will be able to build worship services and work with your community to lead them. Use the worship service builder tool to evaluate your services and create new ones.


Provide Care and Practice Boundaries

Deepen your trust in how Jesus provides us with care and comfort so that we may provide caring visits, support, and prayer for those in our congregation. By the end of this module you will have a customized spiritual visit guidebook to take with you to hospital calls, home visits, and more. Students will also come away with training around boundaries for ministry.


The Church and God’s Mission

Dive into how the church is a part of God’s mission in the world and how we are all called to join in. From theological basics to strategies for using your building, you’ll gain new perspectives and tools to strengthen any community you are a part of.


Empowered to Manage Ministry

From the challenges of financial management to working with others on councils, lay leaders are called upon to complete all kinds of daily work, weekly, monthly, and even annual work to aid in the running of the church. Discover again or for the very first time how this is holy work and be renewed to serve in the vital day-to-day ministry of the church.


Hope and Encouragement for Small Churches and Rural Ministry

Both small congregations and rural settings have been foundational to God’s work in the world from the ancient church to now. Yet, smaller communities can struggle without fresh hope and encouragement. Get a new appreciation for your community and use these skills to spread that joy to others.


The Bible Comes Alive

Not only will this unit give you a solid theological grounding in what the Bible is, but you will also get insight into the Gospels to assist you further with preaching and teaching in your community. By the end of this unit, your appreciation for the Bible will deepen and further enrich your spiritual life.


Journey Through Scripture

Equipped and oriented to the Bible from the previous unit, you’ll dive into Scripture with a special emphasis on the Gospels and how to connect the Bible to your life today.


Our Historical Roots

Learn about the people in Christian history  who risked it all and changed the world! You’ll hear stories of how some of the most unexpected of leaders emerged and gain a strong foundation in how Christianity has grown over the years.


Faithful Innovation

End the School for Lay Ministry on a strong and hopeful note as you are equipped to faithfully innovate and come away with a doable spiritual practice to use in your congregation.

Enroll Now

Enroll now and receive:

  • On-demand video courses tailored to your schedule.
  • Monthly live meetings with a supportive cohort.
    • Calls will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. CT on the following dates:
      • April 6th, 2024
      • May 18th, 2024
      • June 22nd, 2024
      • July 27th, 2024
      • August 24th, 2024
      • September 28th, 2024
      • October 26th, 2024
      • November 16th, 2024
      • December 14th, 2024
      • January 22nd, 2025
      • Feberuary 22nd, 2025
      • March 22nd, 2025
      • April 26th, 2025
  • A private, online group space for personal and leadership growth.
  • Expert guidance from Rev. Marianne Ell.
  • Bonus lessons covering church history, Lutheranism, and more. Explore them at your own pace.

Single Payment

Multiple Payments


$55/month for 12 months

I'm Ready to Enroll

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes! Due to popular request, we plan to offer the School for Lay Ministry regularly. Keep an eye on your inbox for when we announce our next dates.

All calls are recorded and available for later viewing.

Whether you're a lay leader who has taken on additional responsibilities at church, or an everyday Jesus follower who wants to dive deeper in your discipleship and leadership, the School for Lay Ministry is for you.

This is a 12-month learning community with one monthly live call of 3 hours. In-between live calls, students will study materials and videos provided as their schedules allow.

The School for Lay Ministry is open to all denominations!

No. Your learning will come through live teaching, video lessons, handouts, and slides. There are recommended books that will be shared through the learning community, but they are not required. Many will be available via your local library or interlibrary loan.

There are no required exams, but students will have the option to regularly check their learning through interactive features. Those taking this to seek a lay pastor or lay ministry position have the option of completing regular, short evaluations that can be used as part of a ministry portfolio.

Yes, after going through the one-year program, students receive a certificate that lists the number of contact hours.

Yes. This one year program gives students a basic foundation in a variety of practical and theological concepts to use in real-world lay ministry. The program encompasses everything from preaching to conflict management to boundaries and more.

Don’t see your question addressed?
Email us at [email protected] for more information. We’ll be delighted to connect!

Meet Your Instructor

profile photo of Rev. Marianne Ell
Marianne Ell, M.Div, Director for Discipleship

The Rev. Marianne Ell has spent all of her 32 years in ministry serving in small and rural congregations, as well as in Chaplaincy positions in both a hospital and a retirement community. Her passion is in developing leaders and equipping them for the ministries to which God is calling them. Rev. Ell enjoys helping communities discover opportunities for mission and exploring possibilities for vitality. She received her Master of Divinity Degree from The Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, TX, and is currently working on a Masters in Organizational Leadership. Marianne and her husband live on a farm in Wittman, Maryland and have two sons and a daughter. She enjoys the outdoors and living near the water, grilling out with family and friends, traveling, exercising, and mowing grass (because she can see the lines). She is looking forward to building relationships in this learning community.

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