Lay ministry

Lay ministries are growing and proliferating within the Church of England as more people respond to God’s call in their lives and share their God-given gifts in a wide range of ministries. (A Vision for Lay Ministries”  © Archbishop’s Council 2020)

All Christians are called to serve God by living out their faith in the places where they spend their time. 

Rochester Diocese is at the cutting edge of a culture change across the Church of England, recognising the importance of developing and nurturing lay ministry and exploring new models of complementary and collaborative leadership.  

On this page we explore:

What is Licensed Lay Ministry?
What a Licensed Lay Minister does
Becoming a Licensed Lay Minister
Different types of lay ministry
Next steps

We also have dedicated pages on

Ordained Ministry
Everyday Calling


What is Licensed Lay Ministry?

Licensed Lay Ministers (LLM) is a distinctive role in the Diocese of Rochester. They are someone who has been called to serve their Church and their community in a leadership role but not to be ordained.

So they are:

  • Licensed -  Someone who exercises ministry within the Church under the authority of the bishop.
  • Lay - an ordinary Christian with gifts of leadership
  • Minister - theologically educated and with a developing calling from God.

What does a Licensed Lay Minister do?

As a Licensed Lay Minister, you might take responsibility for a major area of work or mission within the worshipping life of a church, such as youth work or music, or become the focal minister for a congregation under the oversight of a cluster or benefice priest.  You might head up a church-supported community project, or be the main church or deanery link with local schools and pre-schools, clubs or community groups.

Discerning your gifts and choosing to nurture and develop them in God’s service as Licensed Lay Minister could be the beginning of a lifelong journey of ministry.

Meet Funmi, a Licensed Lay Minister at Christ Church, Erith. Here she shares her experience of being a Licensed Lay Minister here in the Diocese.


Becoming a Licensed Lay Minister

Our Licensed Lay Ministry training begins with The Bishop’s Certificate in Christian Ministry course. This is open to anyone who has an active involvement in their local church and who wishes to gain knowledge and skills to give a firm foundation to their Christian life and service. It starts in September each year. Download our Bishop's Certificate leaflet for more information.

Licensed Lay Ministry is the second stage. Entry follows a selection and interview process, through which the candidate is recommended for formation for Licensed Lay Ministry. 

The goal is to nurture reflective practitioners with a firm grounding in theology, well-equipped to engage fully in God’s mission and ministry.

To find out more about the Bishop's Certificate and the Licensed Lay Ministry training please contact our Vocations Team.


Different types of Lay Ministry

Since 2015, our Lay Ministry Training has resulted in Licensing Lay Ministers who have a passion for a range of different aspects of ministry. Prior to that, we trained people for three distinct lay ministries – Readers, Pastoral Assistants, and Evangelists. Many of these people continue to contribute to the ministry and mission of their parishes and the diocese.


Readers are authorised to preach and to teach, to lead non-Eucharistic worship, to lead Ministry of the Word at the Eucharist and administer the sacraments, to carry out pastoral work, be involved in baptism visiting and preparation, and give Home Communion to the sick using reserved sacrament.  

Readers are also authorised to officiate at funerals, providing they have undertaken additional authorised training and had their licence appropriately endorsed by the Bishop.    

Readers are not authorised to preside at the Eucharist, or to give a blessing or absolution.  They cannot officiate at weddings or baptisms (except, in the case of the latter, in an emergency), nor can they officiate at funerals except as set out in the previous paragraph.

Readers are normally licensed to their vicar, and are accountable to the vicar to whom they are licensed. Licenses are renewed every 5 years, or until the Reader reaches the age of 70, when they are no longer licensed but instead may be given the Bishop’s Permission to Officiate.

Pastoral Assistants

At the heart of Pastoral Assistant ministry is the desire to help put God’s caring concern into practice, mainly in the context of the local parish and its community. Whilst no two PAs are the same, coming as they do with different spiritual gifts, skills and life experiences, so the focus of their ministry will also be very different, responding to local need and God’s calling.

Pastoral Assistants are trained to be alongside everyone and to be as concerned about the care of the well as of the sick; to work with all age groups; to be involved in teaching, listening, enabling, nurture and prayer, as much as the more practical roles traditionally associated with care. They are also called to encourage and enable the people of God to exercise a caring ministry. Some Pastoral Assistants may assist in administration of Holy Communion, as determined by the Bishop’s Guidelines. 

Pastoral Assistants have a wide-ranging brief in terms of ministry, but in practice it is better that each one has one or two areas of ministry which are their responsibility (under the direction of their incumbent), which are particularly fitted for their gifts and skills.  


Evangelists are those people who, after selection and training by the Church, have determined that call to be witnesses in a particular way. Evangelists are those people who have a real 'heart' for the outsider, for those who as yet do not recognise the impact of God, through Jesus, in their lives. They are people who also help those who have lost their sense of faith to recover their relationship with God and to be strengthened in it.

Evangelists in the Diocese of Rochester work in a variety of ways. Some work specifically with children and young people in schools and clubs, most work across age ranges. In some areas there is a specific work with the elderly. Some run small enquiry groups for adults either in churches, homes, pubs or cafes. Others do estate visits especially to welcome newcomers to an area. 

Some are engaged in acts of 'servant evangelism' where they aim to do acts of kindness simply because God is a God of love. Some Evangelists use the arts in their work while others are gifted speakers at outreach events.

Anna Chaplains and Anna Friends

Anna Chaplaincy is a pioneering work in the Diocese of Rochester, with a special focus on ministry with older people, those with dementia and other end of life issues. Anna Chaplains and Anna Friends are  rooted in local parishes and are commissioned to work alongside others in pastoral ministry to ensure that older people of strong, little or no faith (including those with dementia) have their spiritual needs met.

Find out more

Licensed Lay Funeral Minister

Lay people licensed for this ministry will have the Bishop’s certificate in Christian Ministry (or something equivalent ) as well as to successfully complete our module in Bereavement and Funeral Ministry. Bereaved families are at a very vulnerable time, and the Bishop’s licence (like a Diocesan Kitemark) is a reassurance that they can trust the minister to have been trained and nominated and have the backing of the Diocese.

Lay funeral ministers will usually be licensed to their own parish, but might be available to take funerals across the deanery. Read more


Next steps

  • Pray... With an open mind and an open heart, ask God how you might become all that he intends you to be and how best you can serve him.
  • Get some advice...Talk about your sense of calling to your family and friends, parish clergy and to the lay leaders in your church community. Find out more about LLMs in your parish or deanery. If you don’t know any locally we can put you in touch.
  • Come…to an It’s Your Calling day. These are run by our team of vocations advisers in different venues throughout the year. You’ll have a chance to meet people on a similar quest and have time and space to reflect on what exciting plans God has in store for you.
  • Apply for training… To apply for the course, please request an application form at:

Here are some of the opportunities we have available to help you explore your calling:

'It's Your Calling' days

'It’s Your Calling' days are reflective days, aimed at those exploring where God may be calling them. They are an opportunity to look at our individual journeys of faith and the gifts that God has given us, as well as the Biblical understanding of vocation.

The day gives an opportunity to meet others on a similar quest and to take time to think where God could be calling. After an It’s Your Calling day, there is an opportunity to make contact with one of our Vocations Adviser, for an informal chat. 

'It's Your Calling' days are usually held three times each year, and generally take place during the day on a Saturday.

What's your calling booklets

Our downloadable leaflets aim to help you explore the different paths available to help you live out your vocation.

Is God Calling You
Lay Ministry

Vocations advisers

Vocations Advisers are not there to promote one type of ministry, but to listen to your story and to help discern what God might be saying; they are there for you. If at any time you would like to speak with a Vocations Adviser, you should first speak with your incumbent and then contact the Vocations Adviser in your Archdeaconry.

Bromley and Bexley Archdeaconry
The Rev Alison Newman

Rochester Archdeaconry
The Rev Jim Fletcher

Tonbridge Archdeaconry
The Rev Wil North

Each Archdeaconry has a team of men and women, lay and ordained, who are able to help. You can also email the Diocesan team direct on:


Gifts and talents need developing so, when you are clear what your future calling or ministry might be, we’ll be delighted to help you find the appropriate training


Key Contacts

Karen Senior

Warden of Lay Ministry 

Get in touch

Tricia Cliffe

Secretary to the Warden of Lay Ministry

Get in touch

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