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A26 The office of Lay Minister

Three proposals for change

First published on this website in February 2011 and last updated in January 2023

Words: 5400
Size: 214 kB
Categories: Management , Structures


This article concerns the office known as 'Reader' (or 'Licensed Lay Minister') in Anglican churches, 'Local Preacher' in Methodist Churches and 'Lay Pastor' in Baptist and some other churches.

It first studies how this office is similar and yet different from other voluntary church roles with a case study from Readers (or 'Licensed Lay Ministers') in the Church of England. Two proposals for change follow. It then considers how such lay ministers are managed and makes a third proposal.

The three proposals are as follows:

  1. There should be a shift from ministry itself to enabling others in ministry. This would restore a distinctive edge for Readers now that so many people lead up-front in Sunday services. Readers are ideally positioned and trained to fulfil such a training role.
  2. There should be a shift from 'doing ministry' to 'being mission'. There should be a new emphasis on service outside the Church. The name Lay Minister might even be changed to Lay Missioner to give a better idea of this, even though the two concepts should never actually be divorced.
  3. There should be a shift to tighter management discipline as a role model. This should be much more than an annual review and include regular assessment, an ongoing programme of training and challenges to fresh initiatives.

The implications for lay ministers who are gifted preachers, pastors and pioneers are considered as practical case studies.


Here is the link to this item: PDF A26 - The office of Lay Minister.pdf

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Author's notes

This article was last updated in January 2023 with minor amendments to the layout.