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.
A Licensed Lay Minister is a lay leader who has been identified, trained, and licensed by the Bishop in order to:
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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?
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
For further support email