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Certificate Programs: Certificate in Lay Ministry (2013-14)

Churches and religious organizations are looking for dedicated men and women to serve in non-ordained positions of leadership. Many otherwise qualified people are reluctant to pursue these positions because they do not feel adequately prepared biblically and theologically. Some need to acquire additional practical skills that will help them to be successful in ministry. Others are already involved in lay-ministry positions but feel limited by their lack of training and the dearth of ongoing opportunities for development and support.


The Certificate in Lay Ministry Program is designed to help train, equip and support men and women to serve more effectively as commissioned lay pastors, Christian education directors, lay ministry coordinators, youth leaders, church administrators, church elders and deacons and church office managers, as well as in a variety of other paid and unpaid leadership positions in local congregations. The course is specifically designed to provide the following components:

  • a theoretical framework and foundation in leadership and ministry issues from a Christian perspective;
  • practical skills and tools to help participants lead and manage increasingly complex ministries;
  • support in ministry, and networking opportunities with other church professionals.

Program Format

This non-degree program is open to all laypersons who are currently serving or exploring the possibility of serving in a church or other Christian organization.

This program includes:

  • participation in classes that meet once a month from September to June. The classes meet the first Saturday of each month (except where noted), 9 a.m.-3 p.m.;
  • reading assignments, reflection papers, classroom discussion;
  • participation in a small community cohort;
  • completion of a ministry project that relates to the coursework.

What participants say about this program:

Whitworth's instructors are the cream of the crop. Bravo! The cost is reasonable. The thing I like best about this program is that it provides abundant opportunities for students to interact with instructors and other students.

I tell everybody what a great lay-ministry program Whitworth University has, and I mean it. I couldn't believe I'd been a lifelong Presbyterian and long-time Sunday School teacher, elder, and deacon, and knew so little before I took that course. Take this as a big THANK YOU to you and all the other professors I had.

The topics are well-thought-out and relevant. What a marvelous and rich group of teachers! They have truly made this program something special. Their passion for teaching is inspiring. Even those topics I thought had the potential to be very dry were presented in exciting ways. I want a semester class from each one of the faculty. I'm excited by the class, and the program has whetted my appetite for more.

I found out things I didn't know I needed to know. The program gives me an idea of the educational direction in which I need to go.

Program Dates and Topics

Session 1:
Sept. 7, 2013

Biblical Foundations for Lay Ministry 

Topics include biblical and theological foundations for the church and ministry, and discovering and developing one’s spiritual gifts.

Instructor: Tim Dolan, Ph.D., Director, Institute for Clergy and Lay Leadership Development
Whitworth University

Session 2:
Oct. 5, 2013

The Biblical Story and Why Narrative Matters

Topics include an overview of the Old and New Testaments; how the Bible came to be; basic principles of biblical interpretation.

Instructor: Keith Beebe, Ph.D., Professor, Theology Department, Whitworth University

Session 3:
Nov. 2, 2013

Beliefs: What Christians Believe and Why

Topics include themes in Christian theology and an introduction to Reformed theology.  Additional session: Presbyterian Polity, Nov. 1, Rick Melin.

Instructor: Jeremy Wynne, Ph.D., Lecturer, Theology Deptartment Whitworth University

Additional session: Presbyterian polity, Friday, Nov. 1, 6-10p; Instructor: Rev. Dr. Rick Melin, retired presbytery executive, Presbytery of the Inland Northwest

Session 4:
Dec. 7, 2013

Story: How the Church has Grown and Changed over the Centuries

Topics include major themes in church history; ministry from an historical perspective.

Instructor: Bruce Gore, J.D., Adjunct Faculty, Theology, Whitworth University

Session 5:
Jan. 4, 2014

In But Not Of: How Christians Relate/Respond to a Changing Cultural Context

Topics include understanding and responding to a changing culture; understanding youth culture.    

Instructor: Kent McDonald, Regional Trainer Young Life/Whitworth University Lecturer of Practical Theology

Session 6:
Feb. 1, 2014

Biblical Guidance for Spiritual Practices

Topics include models of Christian spirituality; developing healthy spiritual disciplines.

Instructor: Terry McGonigal, Ph.D., Dean of Spiritual Life, Whitworth University

Additional session: Christian Worship, Friday, Jan. 31, 6-10p; Instructor: Ben Brody, D.M.A., Assistant Professor of Music, Whitworth University

Session 7:
March 1, 2014

Missional Mentality: Leadership in Church and Marketplace

Topics include adaptive and transformational leadership; discovering leadership styles.

Instructor: Tim Dolan, Ph.D., Director, Institute for Clergy and Lay Leadership Development
Whitworth University

Session 8:
April 5, 2014

Facilitating Small Groups

Topics include basic principles on how to facilitate small groups and how to teach the Bible and deal with conflict in small groups.   

Instructor: Ron Pyle, Instructor: Ron Pyle, Ph.D., Professor of Communication Studies, Whitworth University

Session 9:
May 3, 2014

Preaching the Bible

Topics include effective ways to preach the Bible.

Additional session: Theology of Preaching/Biblical Exegesis, Friday, May 2, 6-10p.

Instructor: Ron Pyle, Ph.D., Professor of Communication Studies, Whitworth University

Session 10:
June 7, 2014

Pastoral Care and Ministry

Topics include grief and crisis care; home and hospital visitation.

Instructor: Sheryl Kinder Pyle, Transitional Executive Presbyter, Presbytery of the Inland Northwest

July 12, 2014

Discipleship and Ministry/Project Sharing

Instructor: Tim Dolan, Ph.D., Director, Institute for Clergy and Lay Leadership Development
Whitworth University


Why is this program for you?

Have you ever wanted to facilitate a Bible study or teach a Sunday school class but did not feel you had a deep enough understanding of basic theology, church history, and the Bible?  Are you feeling a call to some form of Christian service but are hesitant to respond because you do not feel adequately prepared in the ‘nuts and bolts' of ministry?   Do you sense that you may have spiritual gifts for serving God but lack confidence in how to lead and/or manage religious organizations?   Have you been putting off serving the Lord because of fear, lack of training, or procrastination?  Are you a committed follower of Jesus Christ and feeling called to sharpen your ministry skills so that God can use you in even greater ways?

If you find yourself answering “yes” to any of these questions, then the Certificate in Lay Ministry program is for you!  This program will give you a basic overview of Christian history, theology, and the major themes of the Old and New Testament.  You will learn about preaching, pastoral care, leadership, worship and the sacraments and other practical topics that will help you equip others to be more active followers of Jesus Christ.  You will also learn valuable ministry skills that will enable you to serve God in whatever ministry capacity he might place you.        


  • $750 (includes lunch; books are extra)
  • $100 non-refundable deposit required to register
  • Scholarships are available!

Payment Plans:

  • Pay in full on or before the first day of class (receive a 10% discount if paid in full by Aug. 10) or;
  • Pay half on or before the first day of class, and the remaining half on or before Jan. 4, 2014. (A monthly finance charge of 1.5% applies.)

Cancellation Policy:

  • Three weeks prior to first class - 100% refund (excluding deposit)
  • Less than three weeks prior to first class: loss of half of full tuition, which includes the deposit.
  • After Session #5 - loss of full tuition

Program Registration:


The Weyerhaeuser Center for Christian Faith & Learning

The Certificate in Lay Ministry Program is one of many such programs being offered through the Weyerhaeuser Center for Christian Faith & Learning at Whitworth University. The center is dedicated to providing innovative programs designed to promote Christian scholarship, greater spiritual depth in students, renewal of clergy and laity, and a better understanding of the dynamics between religion and culture in the Pacific Northwest.

For more information about Certificate in Lay Ministry Program courses or the Weyerhaeuser Center, please contact Tim Dolan by calling 509.777.4676, or via e-mail by clicking here.

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