Licensed Lay Minister Training

Responding to a vocational call from God is a big step
The discernment process continues for those selected to train as they engage with the subsequent period of training. Training for ministry is not just learning skills but about developing as a person, in spiritual and emotional maturity. We believe that the best training is integrated, in that all our learning whether it is academic theology, ministerial skills or spiritual and emotional growth, feeds into and informs other aspects. This holistic process is broadly described as ‘formation’.
About the training
Students follow a two-year programme approved by the Church of England National Ministry team which is delivered by Sarum College through online tutorials, private study and 3-4 residential weekends in Salisbury each year.

This training takes place within a partnership between the student’s benefice or chaplaincy, the diocese and the college, and students are encouraged to reflect on all the learning that they do in their home context. Diocesan sessions, both on Zoom and in person, will be woven around the course modules to complement the learning and help students apply it to their context as a future lay minister.

No specific educational qualifications are required to enter the course, though students are expected to have the ability to engage with the material and to respond through an appropriate assessment pathway.
What subjects are covered?
The current structure of the course begins with an induction process and module to develop skills of theological reflection, before moving on to aspects of Pastoral Care, Biblical Studies, and Christian Worship. In year two, students focus on Mission and Evangelism, Doctrine and History, and will go on placement to a different church, turning their attention to preparing for public ministry towards the summer. For those who have prior theological qualifications at degree level or above, it may be possible so swap some modules with others offered by Sarum College so that they do not have to repeat more basic material.
Do I have to write essays?
Not necessarily. Sarum College offers two possible assessment pathways. Both are approved by the National Ministry Team as suitable preparation for Licensed Lay Ministry, but only one pathway attracts university credits.

The Common Awards Pathway requires the passing of marked assessments in each module, and results in a Higher Education Certificate Award – the equivalent of the first year of a theology degree. Assessments are usually 2500 words, and are a written answer to a question, or a written reflection, or a write up of a project or sermon. College tutors work hard to ensure this is obtainable for all students, and find people surprise themselves on how they rise to the challenge!

The Julian Pathway covers the same learning material, but does not lead to an Award. Assessment is by alternative forms, such as a spoken discussion, or a journal through the module, or some other form. It does not have to be done to academic standards, but still needs to show engagement and learning, and rather than a mark receives comments and a pass or further discussion. There may be some material in a module which is optional for Julian pathway but compulsory for Common Awards, but in the main the learning material and experience is the same. It is possible to begin on the Common Awards Pathway and later change to the Julian Pathway, but not the other way round. For this reason, Sarum College will automatically start people off on the Common Awards Pathway, but are open to a discussion if a student feels this is not right for them.
How much time is needed?
This is a major investment by the church in a person’s future ministry. It requires organisation and planning alongside busy work and family lives, but people are always glad they put the time in since the learning experience is so rich. We advise that students put down as many church responsibilities as possible in these two years, for instance PCC or leading a Home Group. This both allows time for training, but also frees each person to explore areas of ministry that God may be calling them to in the future.

In the first year students will be asked to give:
• Approximately 12-13 hrs/week – 10hrs/week module material, 1hr tutorial + extras
• One Saturday induction in September
• Three Fri-Sat residentials
• One Fri-Sun Rural Context weekend (for all students)
• Safeguarding training
• Diocesan training through the year
Will I get a qualification at the end?
On successful completion of the course, students on the Common Awards Pathway will receive a Certificate in Higher Education, equivalent to the first year of a degree in Christian Theology, Ministry & Mission.

All students will also have embarked on a journey of formation that will see them become the minister God is calling them to be. Their learning and formation will not end when the course is complete - it is a lifelong journey on which God accompanies, guides and encourages each of us

Contact the Team

The Revd Canon Karen Hutchinson

Lay Ministry Development Officer

Get in touch

For further support email


Powered by Church Edit