Lay ministry

God calls every baptised Christian into ministry, and equips them to work together with others as the Body of Christ. This is about much more than their involvement within and around the church buildings or activities. It’s about what they do and what they are as Christians, seven days a week.  

A licensed and trained minister works to equip laypeople – the people of God  - to be the church out in the world, living for Christ.

Lay Ministry therefore covers a huge range of roles and activities, some of which need specialist training and authorisation through a licence or commission from the Bishop. In this section you’ll find links to explore more about those particular roles, the training that is available and who to contact if you feel God might be calling you.

Licensed Lay Ministers (LLMs)

A Licensed Lay Minister is a lay leader in church and/or the wider community who has been identified, trained, and licensed by the Bishop in order to teach the faith and enable mission. In some cases their ministry is rooted in the community or in the workplace rather than in the life of the local church.  

Licensed lay ministry is nationally recognised and those admitted to the office of Licensed Lay Minister in one diocese are welcomed upon relocation to another. Nationally, the ministry of Licensed Lay Ministers is overseen by the Central Readers’ Council.

More about the role of an LLM

A Licensed Lay Minister is a lay leader who has been identified, trained, and licensed by the Bishop in order to:
• teach the faith
• enable mission
• lead in church and society
Licensed Lay Ministers come from a wide diversity of occupations and backgrounds and provide a vital link to the world of work, witnessing to the unchanging love of God in their communities and in their everyday lives.

How an individual’s ministry develops is dependent upon his or her individual strengths, the balance of skills within the ministry team and the particular needs of the benefice. Some may have a focus on leading worship; others may be more involved in pastoral work or outreach.

Licensed Lay Ministers are enablers and encouragers of other lay Christians helping them to make use of their gifts in the service of God. Some Licensed Lay Ministers are involved in pioneer ministries and growing New Worshipping Communities.

Watch this video to see how some Licensed Lay Ministers have interpreted their role:
There is almost no end to the ways in which Licensed Lay Ministers put their theological training to good, practical use!
Is licensed lay ministry for you?

Do you think you might be called to licensed lay ministry? You are welcome to contact the Lay Ministry Development Officer for an informal conversation about what the role involves. The diocese also has a team of Vocation Coordinators whose members are available to anyone wishing to explore his or her vocation, whatever that might turn out to be.
Becoming an LLM

High-quality training through Sarum College is provided to equip you for this role. There’s more about the process of becoming an LLM here.

Lay Pastoral Assistants (LPAs)

LPAs are trained and authorised to engage in pastoral ministry on behalf of the local church, working as part of a team of clergy and laity.

They may work with children and young people, the sick, the recently bereaved and the elderly and housebound. They may take communion to those unable to come to church. Many benefices have teams of LPAs, some of whom specialise in a particular area.

All LPAs focus on pastoral care, but an individual’s ministry varies according to their gifts and skills, and the local situation.

In all cases the ministry calls for a loving and compassionate heart, and a willingness to listen and support those in need.

Types of ministry LPAs may be involved in
•Welcoming newcomers to both our churches and our communities.
• Visiting families before and after baptism
• Work with children and young people
• Marriage preparation
• Hospital visiting
• Visiting people in their homes (not just the elderly and housebound)
• Supporting the bereaved
• Prayer and healing
• Hospitality
• Training and nurture, including confirmation preparation & home groups
• Evangelism, including Alpha groups
• Participating in worship
• They may also take communion to those unable to come to church
Could it be you?

Lay Pastoral Assistant ministry is a vocation not just a job to be done. There are three tried and tested ways of discerning if this is what God is calling you to.Do you have a sense of inner call? Is this call affirmed by others?Is there a need for this ministry in your church? Lay Pastoral Assistants also need to be:
• Able to demonstrate pastoral sensitivity with good listening skills
• Baptised, confirmed and a regular worshipper and communicant in their home church
• Rooted and grounded in their local community, trusted by those around them
• Committed to work within the local team of clergy, ministers and LPAs
• Able to undertake an initial 10 session course of study and engage in continuing ministerial development
What can I do next?
• Ask God in prayer ... how you may become all that God intends you to be and how best you may serve him
• Reflect on your gifts ... are you able to engage with people? Are you someone with caring skills and a willingness to support others?
• Talk to your parish priest or chaplain... who will be able to advise you and put you in touch with the Vocations Team
• Attend a Vocation Enquiry Day ... held regularly throughout the year. Details of the next one are available from the Vocations Team

Lay Worship Leaders (LWLs)

Lay Worship Leaders assist with planning and leading worship in the parishes where they live. Like LPAs, they are chosen by their incumbent and PCC and minister under the direction of their incumbent. They play a vital role in parishes across the diocese by leading a wide variety of worship from BCP Morning Prayer to Fresh Expressions and Messy Church.

What kind of person could become an LWL?

The following is a brief ‘specification’ for the kind of person who might be right to become a Lay Worship Leader. Does this describe you?
• baptised and confirmed
• a regular worshipper and communicant in their home church
• rooted and grounded in their local community (eg not very recently arrived or likely to move away in the near future)
• widely known and trusted by a range of local people and groups
• someone with an appropriate ministerial ‘presence’
• able to undertake an initial 10 session course of study
• willing to engage in appropriate continuing ministerial development
• prepared to work under the supervision of their incumbent and alongside licensed colleagues both lay and ordained
• able to handle the projections and expectations of others
• From exploration to commissioning PDF (for LWL and LPAs)
LWL Training

Training takes place locally and LWLs are commissioned by the diocese for this ministry. The wide range of topics in the training build confidence and understanding of the principles of leading worship well, as well as introducing a wide range of approaches.

So whether you are in a quiet rural church in a multi-parish benefice, or an informal worship leader in a big urban congregation, there will be something new for you to learn about.

Commissioned Lay Pioneers (CLPs)

Resourcing, encouraging and providing training for new forms of church, Salisbury Diocese has partnered with the Diocese of Bath and Wells and Church Mission Society to offer a CMS certificate in Theology Ministry and Mission with a pioneer focus. To find out more, visit the Pioneers page.

Contact the Team

The Revd Canon Karen Hutchinson

Lay Ministry Development Officer

Get in touch

For further support email


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