Lay Ministry Role Descriptor Guide

Drawing up a written role descriptor


Under the Bishop’s Regulations for Lay Ministry, all people licensed or authorised for lay ministry and their incumbents are required to make a written Role Descriptor, which must be endorsed by the PCC, concerning the lay minister’s ministry. The descriptor should cover at least the following aspects:

  • The particular way(s) in which the ministry is to be expressed.
  • The lay minister’s role in and/or relationships with other ministers, the local leadership or ministerial team and other local church structures, such as the PCC, Standing Committee, etc.
  • The balance between the lay minister’s ministerial commitments and the needs of their family, work and leisure.
  • The PCC’s expectations of the lay minister’s in-service training commitments.
  • Arrangements for the reimbursement of expenses incurred through performance of the lay minister’s ministerial duties.
  • Arrangements for the regular review of the lay minister’s ministry as provided for in the Bishop’s Regulations. These stipulate that, at the end of every five-year licence/ authorisation period, the written agreement should be reviewed and, if necessary, amended, with the endorsement of the PCC, before the new licence/authorisation is applied for; and that, at the mid-point of every five-year licence/authorisation period, each lay minister should review their own ministry and agree on a ministerial development programme. The self-review will take the form of a brief written report which the lay minister will discuss with their spiritual director or any other appropriate person.


It is assumed that careful thought will have already been given informally to the questions of the particular expression of the candidate’s ministry, and their relationships with other ministers and structures, before the process of drawing up the written agreement begins.

In practice, it may be best if the process of drawing up the agreement begins with an informal conversation between the candidate and the incumbent, exploring the areas listed above, and reflecting on the common ground that already exists about the candidate’s ministry. In this conversation, things that are both possible and feasible can be noted. Where a number of lay and ordained people work together in ministry (e.g. in a Leadership or Ministry Team), this conversation ought always to include all of them, so that each Role Descriptor can reflect the collaborative context of their ministry. It may be necessary for other existing written agreements to be modified in the light of the introduction of a new member of the team.

Both the incumbent and the candidate should then prepare a draft Role Descriptor. The incumbent and the candidate should meet to compare and discuss the drafts they have prepared, and to negotiate a final version acceptable to both of them. This should then go before the PCC for discussion/formal agreement. The purpose of taking the agreement to the PCC is to clarify the lay minister’s role with other leaders in the church, and to enable those who represent the congregation to ‘own’ the lay minister’s ministry.


In drafting the Role Descriptor, careful attention should be given to the following issues:

  • Expectations – what the parish expects of the lay minister and what the lay minister can expect of the parish.
  • Responsibilities
  • Accountability
  • Supervision
  • Support
  • Relationships with local church structures of leadership and decision-making e.g. will the lay minister be an ex-officio PCC member, etc?
  • In the case of Readers, provision for ministry beyond the Reader’s own parish
  • Reimbursement of expenses
Page last updated: Thursday 8th June 2023 10:39 AM
Powered by Church Edit