Local Worship Leaders and Occasional Preachers

It is evident that there are some who have gifts in leading worship and preaching, gifts that are recognised by the local Christian communities of which they are a part, whether in a traditional parochial setting or in the context of Chaplaincy work and Fresh Expressions. In some cases there should be the encouragement to explore ordination or undertake training to become a Reader or Authorised Lay Minister. This route involves the discernment and validation of a clear and specific vocation to a ministry which is then authorised by the diocesan bishop. However, for many people this is not an appropriate or a possible way forward.

In order to enable Gods people to use their gifts in a way that honours the gospel and enriches our worship, we need to be clear how we can best encourage and support those who are called to lead worship or preach but who do so on an occasional basis, and who are entrusted with these ministries at a local level.

In a public role, anyone leading services or preaching will be seen by others as representing the church and so must be equipped and accountable for the task. In a Church of England context, this also means paying attention to the requirements of Canon Law. To this end, new Guidelines have been drawn as a framework to encourage, enable and hold to account those local worship leaders and those who preach occasionally in the churches, Fresh Expressions and chaplaincies of this Diocese.

The Guidelines are intended to be light touch. The process of discernment, selection, training and supervision is entrusted by us to the Incumbent (or equivalent) in consultation with the PCC (or equivalent). The local worship leaders and occasional preachers will be trained locally and will be accountable to the Incumbent who will be responsible for their contribution to public worship. Nonetheless, as a diocese, we will offer support by providing training material and resources. Some resources are already available on the diocesan website or from the Ministry Department and we will be adding to them in due course. Those who hold the Bishops licence will have a particular role in training and supporting local worship leaders and occasional preachers in parishes and deaneries. Readers, in particular, will be invited to consider whether they might wish to play a central role in this local resourcing.

These Guidelines do not refer or apply to Communion by Extension.

The context in which local worship leaders and occasional preachers will operate will vary significantly in this large and varied Diocese and in each case there will need to be prayerful discernment at a local level. These Guidelines are intended to support that process so that those with a vocation to a role of this kind - affirmed by the local church - can enrich the worshipping life of local congregations across the Diocese 

Page last updated: Tuesday 9th July 2019 9:06 PM
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