“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”
― Teresa of Avila
WHAT IS A LAY PERSON?
In the church we broadly categorise people as either lay or ordained. All deacons, priests, and bishops are ordained members of the church - otherwise known as clergy. The word 'lay' derives from an old French word (lai) meaning secular, which in our context simply means 'not clergy'. Therefore, anyone who belongs to the church and is not ordained is considered a lay person.
WHAT IS A LAY MINISTER?
A Lay Minister is someone the Church has discerned as having a calling and a gift for particular activity within a community. At present there are three recognised lay ministries (defined by Statute 18: The Lay Ministry Licences Statute):
"a person who leads and directs educational groups and programmes and who may prepare people for baptism and confirmation at the direction of the Vicar and includes a person who is called upon to preach the Word more than twice in any year as requested by the Vicar."
"a person who plans and leads such public worship services as are from time to time approved and who may conduct funerals and administer Extended Communion as requested by the Bishop, the Bishop's lawful nominee or the Vicar."
"a person who undertakes the pastoral and social work of the parish including caring for the pastoral needs of the faith community, visiting, and administering Extended Communion."
Each of these ministries requires a licence from the Bishop and a commitment to ongoing education and development.
WHY DO LAY MINISTERS REQUIRE A LICENCE?
A Lay Minister acts with the authority and support of the church, therefore it is critical that all such ministers are adequately trained and resourced. A licence helps to protect both the Lay Minister and the church. Licences let people know that Lay Ministers have been equipped for their role and are authorised to exercise their ministry.
QUALITIES OF A LAY MINISTER
- Have a personal relationship with God and an understanding of their place in the Body of Christ
- Be able to speak about their relationship with God
- Invite others to consider God in their lives
- Have a sense of vocation to the ministry of Licenced Lay Minister.
Commitment to the Parish
- Have a track record of commitment and involvement
- Be supportive of parish structures and work within them
- When challenging current structures do so in an appropriate way
- Be loyal to the Parish
- Being committed to worship even when not ‘on duty’
- In times of difference be able to go through the agreed way of dealing with differences.
Commitment to the community
- Have relationships with people outside the worshipping congregation
- Be ethical in conduct in the community.
Recognised as having these personal qualities
- Be respectful of others including those who are different from themselves
- Good listening skills
- Sense of humour.
Willingness to Develop in the Areas of
- Being part of a ministry support team
- Being able to work alone
- Being committed to training and ministry support team meetings
- Being willing to learn
- Being willing to look at themselves and ask hard questions of themselves
- Being open to change both personal change and in the life of the parish.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
- Read the Diocesan Licensed Lay Ministry Guidelines
- Talk to your Vicar/Priest-in-Charge/Community Leader/Spiritual Director ...
- Find out more about the Lay Ministers' Formation course LiFT.