When I’m calling you…

Author: Mrs Julie Rubidge

Published on: 2 September 2022

You might have a feeling that God is calling you into service to the Church, a feeling which won’t go away. People around you might make comments, indicating that you may be called into lay ministry, perhaps as a ‘Reader’. What does that mean?

God called me into lay ministry in 2008. The verse ‘Feed my sheep’ haunted me day and night. When a ‘Vocations Day’ was advertised I wondered whether to go, but after mentioning it to my vicar he said “Yes. You should go”.

On the day, a lady told us that a ‘Reader’ was called to preach and teach. Her words resonated. I didn’t want to preach or teach in the church, I didn’t think I could, but I knew in my heart that it was what God wanted me to do.

I imagined that I would get out of it – surely the church would realise I couldn’t do it and that would be that. I saw a vocations adviser. He gave me some books to read, and after a few meetings advised me to apply, to go forward for ‘Reader’ training. The vicar and PCC approved, and a selection day followed.

I very soon learned that ‘Reader’ ministry was not something which could be put into a neat box. In fact, who ‘Readers’ were and what ‘Readers’ had been doing over the 150 years since they began to be licensed varied widely. Everyone had their own ideas as to our role, including members of the clergy. Non-churchgoers thought we read the lesson in church. The term ‘Licensed Lay Minister’ is now widely used instead. Every Licensed Lay Minister is unique, our calling is personal and our role within the church benefices to which we are licensed will vary. The tasks we undertake are often the same as the clergy, whose calling is to reach out from leadership roles within the church, while ours is to reach into the church from outside of it, supporting the clergy. There is a subtle difference in our calling which is teased out by the church’s discernment process.

I do preach and teach, and I am also involved within the church and Diocese in many other ways, but it’s better to think of what I am rather than which tasks I carry out, which change according to the needs of the church and where God is leading me at any one time.

I am someone, called by God into service, who has been formed for ministry by a process of training which included study of the Bible, of the Church, and of theological thinking. I am therefore able to serve within the church as well as outside of it by helping other people to follow Jesus too, not only in person but online, every day. The skills I have gained in my lifetime are all fully utilised, God wastes nothing. I continue to learn.

The author...

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Mrs Julie Rubidge

Licensed Lay Minister, Sheringham (Benefice)

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