Based on the principle of the priesthood of all believers, according to which whoever believes in Jesus Christ is called to testify to the good news of the Gospel in the world, in the Evangelical Church, alongside ordained theologians, lay members have tasks of very high responsibility and take on the most varied functions.
In the ELCI, lay members represent most of those who have directive roles and ecclesial functions. Within each congregation, the members of the Church Council, who are democratically elected for defined terms (single mandate), meet periodically to make the necessary decisions for the life of the congregation, thus exercising their directive functions. Where the exercise of the office of congregation president is not explicitly provided for in the statute of a single congregation, this collective directive function is common practice within the ELCI.
The presence of lay members is also predominant in the highest governing bodies of the ELCI. In 2016, 39 lay members sat in the ELCI Synod, which amounts to 74% of the total Synod members. Three out of the five members of the Consistory are laypeople.
Most of the activities, life and direction of the congregations would be unthinkable without the tasks and functions carried out on an honorary or voluntary basis by lay members, and the ELCI always motivates its members to consider the possibility of actively participating in the performance of the services and tasks of the congregations, each according to their own capability and availability.
The office of lay preachers, who take part in the tasks of preaching and proclaiming the Gospel during worship services, requires separate training.