Registration open through April 2023!

School for Lay Ministry Learning Community 2023

With the School for Lay Ministry, you’ll spend an entire year immersed in engaging course studies, new ideas, and a vibrant learning community of peers.
Start Date
Contact Hours

Spend an Entire Year Immersed in the Theology and Training You Need to Be a Leader in Your Congregation

From preaching and teaching to providing pastoral care or designing worship, lay leaders serve their congregations in a variety of roles – often without the theological background or seminary degrees their colleagues may have. With the School for Lay Ministry, you’ll spend an entire year immersed in engaging course studies, new ideas, and a vibrant learning community of peers.

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

Are You Ready to Deepen Your Faith and Leadership?

Are you a lay leader or everyday disciple who…

  • Has recently accepted a new leadership role in your congregation…
  • Is tasked with giving sermons, teaching Sunday School, or leading adult education…
  • Wants to be a passionate disciple who can help form other disciples..
  • Or just yearns to deep your faith…?

Then the School for Lay Ministry is For You!

Whether your leadership is formal or informal, or in the church or outside it…you’ll benefit from meeting regularly with a cohort of other passionate Christians, taking in-depth digital courses in theology and ministry, and processing your faith and leadership experiences together with a trained facilitator.

What Will I Learn in this School for Lay Ministry Learning Community 2023?

  • The focus and function of a sermon – from basic exegesis to the hermeneutical circle
  • Pastoral ministry and congregational leadership
  • Spirituality and Digital Culture
  • Preaching at funerals – especially ones that feel challenging
  • Biblical chronology, including the Pentateuch, creation, and matriarchs and patriarchs
  • Church history, American Christianity, and the particulars of rural minis
  • …and so much more!

Most importantly, you’ll develop as a well-rounded disciple and leader! You’ll connect with God and learn to tell the story of Jesus in new ways. Through the relationships you make, you’ll cultivate community that will provide support and encouragement as you practice justice and shift ministry models. It’s all happening in the School for Lay Ministry.

How Does It Work?

Each month, you’ll take lessons online, then meet together with your cohort and community facilitator to process what you’ve learned and put it into practice. Everything starts March 25, 2023 when the course space opens with the first live meeting happening April 29.

Here’s what you can expect and a look at the live meeting dates. Can’t make one of the monthly meetings? No problem! Each meeting is recorded for later viewing.

April - July 2023

#1 04/29 Building Community – The community begins by getting to know one another through setting expectations and creating a group covenant.
#2 05/20 Preaching Introduction: Whether you already preach regularly or are just getting started, this introduction will equip you for ministry. The focus of this session is on hermeneutics, exegesis, and the basics of a sermon. 
#3 06/24 Spiritual Practices – A connection to God and to one another are two things that sustain anyone’s service in ministry. This section focuses on spiritual practices.
#4 07/22 Rural Ministry – Discover more about what it means to do rural ministry from community dynamics to economics and the future of the rural church.

August - November 2023

#5  08/12 Funerals, Weddings, and More – Learn how to preach at funerals, including challenging ones. Find out how to preach at weddings, and get insight into more around pastoral ministry.
#6 09/23 Specific Ministry Areas – Gain practical skills to minister to older adults, caregivers, and those at the end of life. Build foundations for healthier, small congregations.
#7 10/28 Old Testament – Who are the matriarch and patriarchs of the biblical story? Take a new, fresh look at the old testament.
#8 11/11 The exile to the time of Jesus – This section focuses on the second temple period, the exile, the historical Jesus, and the gospels of Mark and Matthew.


Closeup of hands holding tea cups with a small tea pot.

November 2023 - March 2024

New Testament – The discussion of Jesus continues with a look at the gospel of Luke, Acts, the gospel of John, the pastoral letters, and Revelation.
Congregational Leadership Issues  – Get practical solutions and advice for dealing with conflict and difficult conversations. This section also covers strategic planning and discernment.
#11 02/24 Church History – Explore the emergence of the church and development of Christianity across the first few centuries up the time of Eastern orthodoxy.
#12 03/24 The Emergence of Protestantism- Discover how different reformations from the English Reformation, Catholic Reformation, and the work of Martin Luther shaped the church that we know today.
#13  04/20 Faithful Innovation and Adaptive Challenges – Cultivate a culture of innovation and Spirit-led ministry as the School for Lay Ministry closes on this practical and hopeful session.

Enroll Now

  • Single payment $600
  • Multiple Payments $55/month for 12 months

Frequently Asked Questions

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!

Meet the Instructor

Marianne Ell, M.Div, Director for Discipleship

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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