Exploring lay ministry

You may be surprised by how many of the Church’s ministers are not ordained.

Youth and children’s ministers, evangelists, missionaries, readers, pioneers, and many chaplains are generally not ordained, and are collectively known as lay ministers.

Lay ministers serve together alongside the ordained. Here you will find practical information to help you understand selection, training, and authorisation.
Woman with hands in the air leading worship, cross on wall behind Diocese of Birmingham

Lay ministries cover a huge variety of different forms of Christian service. Explore more about the numerous types of ministry in the Church of England here.

Selection, training and authorisation for lay ministry happens in dioceses or parishes, not nationally. You can find which diocese you are in here.

Every diocese is different, but the general pathway depends on what form your ministry will take. Lay ministry falls broadly into three categories: Recognised, Authorised and Licensed.

In Church
In the Community
In Leadership

Note: These categories naturally overlap, and not every form of ministry will fit naturally into just one. These descriptions are intended as a guide to help you make the first steps towards lay ministry. They are intentionally broad and may not always be the way your diocese does things. The best thing is to speak to your vicar, chaplain or a lay minister in your church early on about your sense of calling, and to take the conversation further with the vocations team in your diocese.


Get in touch with your diocese

Contact the vocations team in your diocese using the form below to begin exploring whether you have a calling to lay ministry. Your diocese will be sent your message and contact details and may get in contact with the ministry team in your church. If you don’t know which diocese your church is in you can find out on A Church Near You. Your data will also be held the National Church Institutions.

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Your Diocese will most likely get in touch with the ministers at your church. If you don't know which Diocese you are in, please enter your postcode on A Church Near You
Data will be shared with the Archbishops’ Council, the diocese you have selected, and the ministry team of the church you worship at. We will not share this data with other third parties.

"For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others."

Romans 12:4-5