These four important lay roles can support Church ministry in all sorts of ways. Learn more about each role below and the training needs for each of them.
Role description templates, supervision resources and the Annual Ministry Review are all available to download on the Lay Leader Training Pathway page.
Occasional Preachers are lay leaders who have been identified by their Incumbent as having gifts, skills and calling to preach the Word in Sunday services or on other occasions. These might include giving talks at all-age worship and family services, giving special interest or seasonal talks, or speaking at Fresh Expressions of Church.
They are eligible to attend the 3-day Occasional Preacher’s course which is run annually by the diocese as part of the Lay Leader Training Pathway. The 2024 dates are 14 &28 September and 12 October. Booking is via Eventbrite, here.
Alternatively, Incumbents may opt to train Occasional Preachers locally. However they are trained, an Occasional Preacher should be provided with a role description which outlines how frequently they are likely to preach and in what contexts. They should also receive ongoing supervision in the preparation, delivery and reviewing of sermons. They are expected to be reviewed annually using the annual ministry review form and be given the chance to review the role description and explore wider vocations.
Lay Pastoral Visitors
Lay Pastoral Visitors are those with a particular heart for serving the Church and parish in pastoral care. This may include:
- Visiting newcomers to the church.
- Visiting those who move into the local area.
- Praying with and for people when visiting, either informally or using approved prayers.
- Visiting the sick, those in hospital, and the housebound.
- Providing pastoral care, support and assistance to those identified by the pastoral team lead or incumbent.
For DBS requirements they are not permitted to do the following:
- Manage anyone’s bills, handling cash or doing someone’s shopping.
- Give anyone a lift to a healthcare appointment in a vehicle as part of your role.
- Provide personal care.
Training is provided by the diocese through the 5-day Lay Pastoral Visitors Course, which runs annually as part of the Lay Leader Training Pathway. This training is optional; parishes may choose to train locally if they prefer. The next course dates are 24 February, 9 & 23 March, 20 & 27 April 2024. Booking is via Eventbrite, here. There is also an annual pastoral training day for all who serve in pastoral ministry, which will next run on 5 October 2024.
Lay Pastoral Visitors should be given a role description which is reviewed annually as part of the annual ministry review. They should also be given ongoing supervision to support their pastoral work.
Lay Pastoral Assistants
Lay Pastoral Assistants are those who were trained in pastoral ministry before 2020 and have extensive skills in pastoral care. In addition to the ministry of Lay Pastoral Visitors, they are able to:
- Support the dying and the bereaved.
- Support vulnerable families within the community.
- Administer Holy Communion by extension to the sick and the housebound.
- Do occasional shopping/bill paying with or for the person visited where the adult is in need of that assistance by reason of age, illness or disability.
- Provide supervision to the parish pastoral team.
Additional training is available to Pastoral Assistants through attending the Pastoral Care module of the Local Ministry Programme, the annual pastoral training day and ad hoc sessions offered on supervision skills. Lay Pastoral Assistants should be given a role description which is reviewed annual as part of the annual ministry review. They should also be given ongoing supervision to support their pastoral work.
Worship Service Leaders
Worship Service leaders are those who lead or share in leading services or other forms of worship, are part of a service planning team in parish or work with others enabling them to lead or design worship. They may minister in the following areas:
- Planning services.
- Choosing songs.
- Leading the main service of the Word.
- Leading all-age worship services.
- Leading seasonal services.
- Leading Fresh Expressions of Church.
- Leading morning prayer.
They are eligible to attend the Worship Service leaders course, which is run annually by the diocese as part of the Lay Leader Training Pathway. The next starts on 24 April 2024 and runs over 7 Wednesday evenings (excluding half term). Booking is via Eventbrite, here. They may also be trained locally by the Incumbent or worship leader.
However they are trained, Worship Service Leaders should be provided with a role description which outlines how frequently they are likely to lead and in what contexts. They should also receive ongoing supervision both in the preparation, delivery and reviewing of services. They are expected to be reviewed annually using the annual ministry review form and be given the chance to review the role description and explore wider vocations.
For training opportunities and queries about courses, contact the Diocesan Training Lead, Sarah Slater.
If you’re still exploring your vocation in lay leadership, or you know someone in your congregation who is considering their vocation in lay ministry this page may be helpful.