In baptism, each and every one of us becomes part of the body of Christ, and each and every one of us is given gifts for ministry. Christians are called to some form of ministry. Most are called to a ministry that doesn’t require them to be set apart in the way that ordained ministry does. Most are called to show God’s love and to serve in the place where they live and work. In the Diocese of Southwark we are committed to encouraging more lay ministry and vocation. But, whether lay or ordained, Christians are called to work together to carry out God’s mission both within the Church and in the wider world.
The whole people of God, by baptism, share in bearing Christian presence through worship, witness and service, being the Body of Christ in every and any place and context…. Ordained and lay ministers teach and equip lay people to follow Jesus confidently in every sphere of life in ways that show the difference the Gospel makes. They recognise that all are baptised into Christ, complementary in gifts and vocation, mutually accountable in discipleship, and equal partners in mission. (A Vision for Lay Ministry)
Here in Southwark, we have a wide range of recognised lay ministries. Some are unique to our local situations (affirmed), and some are wider in breadth and involve being in a public role (commissioned and licensed). You can find more about these categories below, and about specific areas of ministry in the menu to the right.
Affirmed ministries are locally driven and respond to local need. They often involve partner organisations in the community. They are discerned within the local context and training takes place locally. Sometimes this is a day long course and sometimes the course lasts for a few weeks. People taking on this kind of ministry are then blessed or affirmed at Area, deanery or parish level.
Examples of affirmed ministry include:
- people in pastoral ministry such as Street Pastors, Volunteer Lay Chaplains in hospitals, or leaders of food banks, overnight shelters and local Christian charities
- people working with children and young people as church representatives on school, college, and university governing bodies, or those teaching children and young people
- worship leaders
- people facilitating roles in new monastic communities
- workplace ambassadors.
Commissioned ministries operate Diocese-wide and are discerned at Diocesan level. The Diocese provides training, which usually takes two years part-time. Once trained, people undertaking this kind of ministry are commissioned by the Diocesan Bishop.
Examples of commissioned ministries include:
- Southwark Pastoral Auxiliaries (SPAs)
- Commissioned Lay Pioneers
- Commissioned Youth and Children’s Ministers.
Licensed ministries are nationally recognised. People undertaking this kind of ministry are discerned at Diocesan level and the Diocese provides training to national standards (Level 4 or equivalent, which usually means two years’ part-time academic study plus two years ‘on the job’).
After training, people are licensed by the Diocesan Bishop. They may transfer their licence to another Diocese.
Examples of licensed lay ministers include:
- Licensed Lay Pioneers
- Licensed Lay Ministers (Youth and Children)
- Licensed Lay Ministers (Pastoral)
- Church Army Evangelists.
The Southwark Diocesan Lay Council brings together practitioners and others to celebrate, grow and support lay leadership and ministry in its many forms in the Diocese of Southwark.
It has been established in the light of Southwark Vision, Diocesan participation in the national initiative Setting God’s People Free, and as a recommendation of the Lay Leadership and Ministry Advisory Group Report which was presented and endorsed by Diocesan Synod in July 2018.
The Lay Council is a key part of the Diocesan intent to focus on the flourishing of all God’s people and it aims to recognise the charism of lay people in their ministry and leadership as Christians in society as well as in the Church.
The Lay Council is involved in:
- nurturing lay leadership and ministry
- supporting the development of affirmed, commissioned and licensed ministry
- encouraging collaborative working between lay leaders and lay ministers and clergy in both the gathered and sent church.
Links and downloads
You can download the report from the Diocese of Southwark’s Lay Leadership and Lay Ministry Advisory Group to Synod here.
The National Church’s Research and Statistics division released a report in November 2020 entitled Lay Ministry Data Project, which shares further information on lay ministry across the Church of England. Read it here: Final Project Report and Commentary