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)

‘Licensed Lay Ministers have a unique calling which, alongside clergy, reflects and celebrates the gifts of the whole people of God within a local community. LLMs have many and varied roles to fit their own context inside and outside the church. The training is designed to equip them theologically and the licensing to release them into ministry.’ Bishop Karen, Warden of Licensed Lay Ministers

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!
For more information, download this leaflet.
Becoming an LLM
‘Through my 20s I felt nudged by God to think about how I should use the gifts he has given me to build up the body of Christ so once my children were out of the very tiny years I started exploring my sense of vocation through the diocesan discernment process. This process helped me decide that Licensed Lay Ministry was the right fit for me’ Georgie Menzies, Weymouth Ridgeway Benefice.
A Licensed Lay Minister is a significant lay leader, whether that is within a church setting, a pioneering project, or a chaplaincy base. Taking on such a responsibility involves a careful discernment process to test out a potential call from God, explore the implications of ministry personally and professionally, and prepare for formal selection.
The first step is to talk to others, including ministers in your local church or benefice and those who know you well. How do they react? You might like to attend a diocesan vocations event for information.
If informal conversations are encouraging, contact the Diocesan Vocations Coordinator to take things further. They will have an initial conversation with you to find out some basic details, and will ask you to complete and sign an Initial Enquiry Form before contacting your incumbent for a conversation, and if that is positive, linking you up with a Vocations Adviser.
Your Vocations Adviser will be someone used to working with people exploring a vocation. If you believe from the start that your calling is to lay ministry, then we will try to link you with one of our lay vocations advisers, though all are able to help you with this stage of exploration. They will meet with you at least twice, possibly for as much as six months, and together you will look at the qualities that will be sought by any discernment panel.
If and when you and your Vocations Adviser believe you are ready to make a formal application for selection, then you will be referred to the Lay Ministry Development Officer, who acts as secretary for the discernment panel. They will send you some forms to complete, follow up references, and ensure a DBS clearance is in place. They will also advise you on how to prepare for a Discernment Day. This referral must be no later than 1 May each year if you are to begin training that September, and ideally needs to be made around February/March time if possible.
Once you have been referred you will need to ensure all the PCCs in your benefice pass an affirming resolution as follows: ‘This PCC supports N spiritually, prayerfully and financially as its candidate for Licensed Lay Ministry Training Selection on the understanding: a) that N will be released from all obligations in the parish during the two years of training, b) that N will be entitled to claim and be paid the expenses of office once licensed and c) that on completion of training N will be accepted and regularly used as a full member of the Parish Ministry Team.’
You will be invited to attend a Discernment Day with other potential candidates. This is an all-day event which will involve group discussions, individual presentations, and interviews with advisers. At the end of the day recommendations will be made to Bishop Karen, who as Warden of LLMs will make the final decision and be in touch with you to let you know whether you have been discerned for training.
It is important to note that discernment for training is no guarantee of licensing as a lay minister. Much will depend on how you develop during your training, which we hope will be an exciting time of growth both academically and spiritually.
You will need to keep the following dates free, please:
• 16 March 2024 Training Taster Day at Sarum College
• 11 May and 15 June 2024 Discernment Days
You can read more about the training offered to those discerned for this ministry here
Support for LLMs
Licensed Lay Ministers are supported by the Warden and Associate Warden of LLMs, who oversee the discernment process, host the Annual Gathering of LLMs, and conduct the annual review. For contact details, and for relevant forms click 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 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.


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.

Details of the next CMS course in Pioneer Mission are available here

Contact the Team

The Revd Canon Karen Hutchinson

Lay Ministry Development Officer

Get in touch

For further support email


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