Becoming a Reader (Licensed Lay Ministry)

If you are wondering if Reader ministry is what God is calling you to or if someone has suggested that you consider licensed lay ministry, this page gives you the steps you need to go through to explore that call.

  1. First it is good to talk to other people in your church or chaplaincy. Ask them if they think God might be calling you to preach, teach, lead worship and share in pastoral care and mission in your parish or setting. If other people think that you might be called to help lead things like a church plant or messy church, then Reader ministry might well be the way to do this too. It will give you a good theological training and the support of the diocese. You might also talk to people outside your church – maybe work colleagues, if that would be appropriate. It is also important to discuss it with your partner and family if that applies to you.
  2. It is important to talk to your incumbent or chaplain early on as they will need to support your application. Discuss with them how Reader ministry might work out for you in your setting. The books listed below might give you some ideas and the Warden or Deputy Warden can come and talk to you both about this too.
  3. When it seems like God could be calling you to Reader ministry or something similar, you need to go and see a Vocations Advisor. You can contact them direct and arrange a meeting. They will help you think through what God is calling you to, so if you are not absolutely certain whether it is Reader ministry or something else, they can still help you. There is a list of our Vocations Advisors here: Diocesan Vocations Advisors.
  4. The diocese arranges vocations days for anyone thinking of offering for some form of public ministry, called LifeCalling. You should try to attend one of these, but if the dates do not work for you, this step is not essential – however we strongly encourage you to go to a LifeCalling day if you can.
  5. Your PCC will need to vote to support your application and your incumbent or chaplain will also need to write to the Warden (Incumbents Nomination Form) in support of your application.
  6. You will need to meet with the Training Coordinator (who is also Deputy Warden of Readers). He will talk to you about what the training involves and any other matters you want to discuss at this point and will prepare a training plan for you. A Training Information Evening runs every March, so you should book a place on the next one by contacting
  7. The detailed process of application, references and so on are set out in the document below, but this culminates in your attending a selection day with several other Reader candidates for interviews and group activities. These usually take place in April/May of each year, ready for training to begin in August.

Related documents


Some books to read to help you think about Reader ministry

  • Charles Read and Phillip Tovey Reader Ministry Today (Grove Books 2010)
    (A short book by our own Deputy Warden and his counterpart in Oxford diocese)
  • Phillip Tovey Instruments of Christ’s Love (SCM 2016)
    (A longer book developing the  ideas in the one above)
  • Cathy Rowling and Paula Gooder Reader Ministry Explored (SPCK 2009)
    (Cathy is Principal of the Lindisfarne training course and Paula is a Reader who is also a well-known writer and speaker on Biblical Studies)

You can borrow these from the Ministry and Training library / bookstore at Diocesan House or you can buy them from our local Christian bookshop Revelation. Grove Books can be ordered online including downloadable versions.