Bishop of Leicester launches new vision for Readers


A new vision for the ministry of Readers (or Licensed Lay Ministers) has been circulated to every Reader in the Church of England and the Church in Wales, by the Bishop of Leicester.


The Rt Revd Martyn Snow, lead bishop for lay ministry in the Church of England, has launched the new vision for Readers which has come out of consideration around reform of the Central Readers’ Council. It is a booklet entitled ‘Resourcing Sunday to Saturday faith – Readers, Lay Minsters and Everyday Faith (and you can download it from the link below).


Bishop Martyn is convinced that  fostering everyday faith is vital and that there is an urgent need within the church for skilled teachers who can take us all deeper in faith, enable us to live this faith in the everyday circumstances of life, and so give a lead in church and society.


He hopes this booklet will be the start of a wider conversation in the church, and that it will inspire a new generation of ministers who can equip the saints.


Click here to download the ‘Resourcing Sunday to Saturday faith – Readers, lay Minsters and Everyday Faith’ booklet by clicking on the following link: Vision for Reader and Lay Ministry


Launching the booklet, Bishop Martyn said: “In 2016, we celebrated 150 years of Reader ministry. Since that time, the Central Readers’ Council of the Church of England and the Church in Wales has been working to renew our vision for the twenty-first century. This vision has now been set out in the booklet which was sent out with every copy of the current edition of The Reader magazine.


“The booklet is also available to download from our website and is being sent electronically to all Bishops, Directors of Ministry, Wardens of Readers and those responsible for Reader training and CMD. We are asking Bishops to send the booklet to all clergy so that Readers and clergy can discuss it together. And our great hope is that the booklet will not only start a new conversation across the whole church about the future of Reader ministry but will spur a new generation of people to offer to serve God in this vital ministry.


“The publication of the booklet follows a long process of prayerful discernment and wide consultation. During 2018, a small group of us toured the country speaking to Readers and those responsible for oversight and training of Readers. Every diocese was represented at one of our consultations and we heard both joy and lament.


“We noticed that lay ministry generally is flourishing – indeed we were surprised that the wider church has not really taken note of this flourishing. There are now about 9000 Readers serving the church and involved in everything from sustaining the life of small rural churches to leading Messy Churches and training small group leaders in large suburban churches. Everywhere you look, Christians are serving God faithfully, often at considerable cost in terms of time (juggling work and home life) and often unnoticed and unsupported. It really is time we properly celebrated this work of God.


“So each of our consultation meetings had this note of joy as we observed all that God has done in raising up lay ministers across the church. And we then reflected on the questions that this raises for Readers. What now is the role of the Reader given the proliferation of other recognised, authorised and licensed lay ministries? Is this a threat to the long-term survival of Reader ministry, or is there still a place for a more focused ministry within the wider ecology of ministries? And what about the high age profile of Readers generally – why are younger people not viewing this as a distinct calling for them? And what about the perennial question of clergy / Reader relationships – how do we create an environment for genuine partnership?


“Our consultations suggested three new foci for Reader ministry in the twenty-first century – Readers as enablers of mission; Readers as teachers of the faith; and Readers as leaders in Church and Society. So while we continue to celebrate the wide variety of activities which Readers resource, including worship leading and pastoral work, we are suggesting that future vocations, training and support for Readers be focused on these three vital areas of ministry for the future of the church.


“The booklet Resourcing Sunday to Saturday Faith unpacks each of these three themes and then proposes some questions for Readers and for the wider church. The Central Readers’ Council, working in partnership with Ministry Division, is keen to get feedback and to do what we can to support individuals and dioceses in exploring the wider implications of these changes.


“Alongside the booklet, we are also reforming the structures of CRC to make it a ‘community of practitioners’ focused on supporting dioceses to grow the numbers of Readers, to train them effectively and develop a culture of life-long learning. And we are delighted that Ministry Division has appointed a National Lay Ministries Officer who will work closely with CRC’s newly appointed Training and Development Project Manager, Ruth Haldane.


“Similarly, it is encouraging that a major new research project is just starting with the aim of giving us a clear picture of lay ministry across the church. This will help us to celebrate, to set some clear goals for growth in lay ministry and to support those who serve in this way. It may be rather overdue, but we believe a new season is dawning – a season when we celebrate the diversity and giftedness of all God’s people.”


You can read more about Bishop Martyn’s vision for lay ministry by clicking here and find out more about the recently appointed national Lay Ministries Officer, Carrie Myers, by clicking here


Bishop Martyn also recently licensed Andy Smith as the new Warden of Readers in Leicester Diocese. See more by clicking here.

First published on: 7th August 2019

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