Called to Lay Ministry


To many people, the word ‘vocation’ is associated with the call to ordained ministry. But you don’t have to be a priest to serve God- there are lots of other ways in which the Church enables people to undertake particular roles and tasks in mission. These are some of the more formal ways you can serve in the Church. Click the headings to read more about each role. 

There is a process of discernment for those exploring vocation to these roles which will involve a period of time, specific contact with your local church and the diocesan Mission and Ministry team, various activities or tasks, and a final discernment conversation.

NB: In addition to the roles listed below, there are a number of ministry specialisms including interfaith engagement, spiritual direction, pioneering, work with children and young people, Church Army and the religious life (monks and nuns). Follow this link for more information on the national Church of England website, or, the Diocese of Leicester ministry team will be able to help with these conversations. Contact Rob Hay, Head of Learning and Ministry Development ( 2615317), or Liz Rawlings, Discipleship and Vocations Enabler ( / 0116 2615317) for further advice.


The Diocese of Leicester authorises evangelists to work alongside the other ordained and lay ministers within the Church under the authority of a parish priest, rural dean, or other local leadership, taking on particular responsibility for the proclamation of the Gospel for the growth of the Church. Evangelists may be members of local ministry teams and may be called to assist in exploring opportunities for evangelism in wider contexts. Anyone who is a regular baptised and confirmed communicant of the Church of England may be recommended to the Bishop with the support of their incumbent and parochial church council to go forward for selection, training and commissioning as an evangelist. While evangelists may be asked to preach occasionally in churches, the focus of the evangelist is towards those on the edge of Church life and those who have no contact with Church at all. Possible areas of work might include: Involvement in continuing one-to-one or small group evangelism Leading a parish or area audit on evangelistic opportunities Planning and delivering evangelistic activities and events Establishing and running enquirers groups (Alpha/Emmaus/Essence etc) Exploring and developing new ways of ‘being church’ Training others in ‘faith-sharing’ If you think God may be calling you to be an evangelist, talk to your incumbent or chaplaincy team leader. Also talk to someone who is already practising evangelism. For further information, forms for application and references and general advice, contact Jon Barrett ( 2615335)


Here in the Diocese of Leicester, we are leading the way in recognising that pioneer ministry is a role to which some are called. Many of our Pioneers are involved in setting up Fresh Expressions of Church, or in emerging congregations. For more details on what it means to be licensed as a pioneer download a broucher with more infomation here. The role of pioneer minister is extremely diverse. So in the discernment process for pioneers, and those seeking a Bishop’s Licence in this ministry, the key attributes could be summed up as follows: The ability to recognise where God is at work outside of our Churches and in our community. The desire to reach those who are not part of our traditional Church family, and probably never will be. The courage to try, to get it wrong, to learn and to grow in the name of Christ and his church with the support of and accountability to their local church Should any of this raise questions for you, or intrigue you, please do contact Jonathan Dowman ( /0747 7783464). We would love to hear from you. 

Pastoral Assistants

This is a lay person who is selected, trained and authorised to serve alongside the clergy, Readers and churchwardens of a parish or benefice, or as part of an institutional chaplaincy team. They will take on particular responsibilities and sometimes leadership roles within the pastoral ministry of that church or institution, working under the direction of their incumbent or chaplaincy team leader. Following their selection, training and commissioning, pastoral assistants will be part of the public ministry of the Church, representative both of that Church and of the ministry of all lay people. There are various areas of work which could be undertaken by pastoral assistants, depending on the needs of the parish or institution, the existing ministries provided there, and the gifts, training, experience and time that the pastoral assistant can offer. These might include: Baptism preparation and follow up, visiting the sick, crisis support and befriending. Ministry to the dying, support of the bereaved, visiting new comers, working with prayer groups, general pastoral visiting in support of the clergy, enabling and co-ordinating others in pastoral Ministry and encouraging the development of good practice in pastoral care. Pastoral assistants will not normally be involved in or have a role in the liturgical ministry of the parish or institution, (ie. preaching and leading worship). They may however, with other members of the congregation, read lessons and lead intercessions. Pastoral assistants are authorised to distribute Holy Communion to the sick and housebound with the agreement of their incumbent. To administer the chalice in church, additional authorisation from the Bishop should be sought. Commissioning authorises the pastoral assistant for ministry in their parish, benefice or institution only. Pastoral assistants will normally be authorised to work up to the age of 70. They are commissioned for a period of three years after which they will require a renewal of their commission from the Bishop. Contact the Revd Kim Ford, Advisor for Pastoral Assistant Ministry ( / 0116 2592238), for further information.


Readers are called to lead worship, to preach God’s word and to teach in ways that deepen discipleship and faith. There are now more readers than clergy engaged in parish ministry. Their work extends far beyond church services; readers can be found running children’s and youth groups, visiting the elderly and the sick, leading school services, taking funerals and generally helping to spread the Gospel throughout the diocese. The reader’s licence sets out the areas of ministry which they are permitted to do. Each reader has a working agreement with their incumbent, setting out their areas of responsibility, the amount of time the reader has to give, and arrangements for the reimbursement of expenses and for in-service training. Readers come from every walk of life, and men and women are represented more or less in equal numbers. Those admitted as readers have to be baptised and confirmed members of the Church of England, and regular communicants. Readers play a key role in running house groups and Bible study groups. More and more readers exercise a valuable ministry in conducting funerals and caring for the bereaved. Many readers help with preparing those seeking baptism, confirmation and marriage. Not all readers are in parishes; some work as lay chaplains in hospitals and others assist with chaplaincy work in the prison service. In church, readers can be distinguished from their ordained colleagues by the distinctive blue scarf which licensed readers wear. For details about how to apply to become a reader, download the fact sheet from this page. Or contact Andy Smith ( / 0116 2615317) for more information and advice