Reader Training

What is a Reader?

In recent years there have been some questions around the role of a Reader, particularly in light of the changing context in which the Church of England finds itself, the growing number of people involved in ministry in diverse ways both inside and outside of the church and, in some cases, exercising authorised ministries such as occasional preaching, leading worship, and taking funerals. All these have traditionally been understood as being in the domain of Readers.

We believe that all are called to ministry and that Readers exercise their calling as Lay Theologians within their local communities. Within this there are three areas of specific interest for Readers: to be encouraging enablers of mission; to be inspirational teachers of the faith; and to be influential leaders in church and society. It is with this at the heart of our thinking that we have reshaped the Reader Training Programme in 2019.

From September 2019 a new teaching programme will be delivered to trainees, a copy of which can be found here.

What does training involve?

The programme:

  • Is a two year, part-time programme. Each year incorporates 15 week nights (Wednesday) at The Stafford Beacon Centre, three residential weekends and two Saturday sessions which will be held at Queen’s Theological College, Birmingham.
  • Gives students the opportunity to achieve a Certificate of Higher Education in Theology, Ministry and Mission.
  • Encourages students to reflect on their personal formational, with the help of their Parish Supervisors and Formation Mentors, with whom students are expected to meet on a regular basis.
  • Asks students to reflect on and evaluate their own ministry and the opportunities for mission and ministry in their local context.
  • In the first year has at its heart an intentional focus on a student’s local context and the core essence of Reader Ministry – leading worship and preaching.
  • In the second year asks students to think beyond their current context and to consider their own ministry and mission in a broader context of the Church’s history and contemporary society.

The parish is involved in discerning the vocation of ‘their’ candidate, in supporting them through training, and in working with them, after licensing, in local mission and ministry.  

Frequently asked questions regarding the Reader Training programme:

What is the cost? 

The diocese meets the cost of Reader training asking for a small contribution from the candidate’s parish. Reader candidates themselves are not expected to contribute to the cost of training, other than the costs incurred in travelling to and from classes. Financial constraint should not be considered a barrier to Reader training; in such cases we look to support all candidates and parishes.

How much time does it take? 

Reader training is delivered as a part-time course run over two years involving evening classes, two Saturday study days and three residential weekends (Friday evening to Sunday lunch time) per year. A copy of the first year teaching programme is available here. In addition to this we recommend a further 8 hours per week be set aside for background reading and completing assignments.

What qualifications do I need? 

No previous formal education is required, although participants should have been involved in some Christian learning, normally (but not always) Pathways to Ministry or an equivalent. Reader training is a formational process which encompasses academic learning among other skills for ministry. The training incorporates both practical skills, e.g. leading worship and preaching, as well as encouraging and developing theological reflection. It is delivered through a variety of methods, including practical engagement in the parish, discussion, lectures, workshops, and independent reading. Learning support is available for those who have not studied for a long time, or are not confident about their study skills, and the course includes some ‘back to study’ skills.

What will being a Reader enable me to do? 

You will be licensed by the Bishop of Lichfield to a teaching and preaching ministry which may include conducting funerals. Each Reader’s ministry is exercised in their local context in collaboration with the local leadership team.

What if I move parish or diocese? 

Reader ministry is a nationally recognised ministry. Readers who move parish or diocese can apply to transfer their licence.

I’m interested but not yet sure if Reader ministry is for me. What should I do next? 

Discerning a call to a specific ministry can often seem confusing. We offer a Pathways To Ministry course for those who are not sure what God is calling them to. The information regarding Pathways To Ministry is here.

I’m interested in Reader training, what do I do next? 

We offer free Taster Evenings across the diocese for those who would like to know more. The purpose of the evening is to give a broad insight into the content and expectations of training and to answer any questions you may have. The evening begins with worship at 6.30pm and ends at 9pm. This year’s Taster Evenings are being held at:

Stafford area - 24th June 2019 - St. John The Baptist Church, Littleworth.

Shrewsbury area - 27th June 2019 - Emmanuel Church, Harlescott.

Wolverhampton area - 1st July 2019, The Church at Perton, Anders Square, Perton.

To book a place on one of the Taster Evenings please email and a member of the team will contact you to confirm your place.

How do I apply for Reader training? 

Those offering themselves for Reader training are invited to attend a Diocesan Advisory Panel (DAP). However, before applying for a DAP you need to discuss your sense of call with your parish as they are expected to provide references for the application and to support you throughout the training and into future ministry. At the DAP you will meet with advisers from the Diocese who will discern with you a call to Reader ministry. DAPs take place on a Saturday in June at St. Mary’s House in Lichfield.

If you wish to apply for a DAP please contact

Do you have further questions which are not answered here? 

Please contact Revd Dr Jeanette Hartwell, who is our Director for Reader Training at

The Bishop of Lichfield’s guidance on age limits for licensed ministry are available here.

‘I didn’t think I could do it – but it’s been one of the best experiences of my life!’ 

That’s a frequent comment from people who have felt called by God – but anxious about their own gifts, abilities or confidence. But Reader training is transformative, bringing out gifts and skills people don’t expect, helping them grow in God, and in confidence, equipping them for their ministry and mission.

Reader Training Cell Groups and Cell Group Facilitators

What is the purpose of the cell group?

Cell groups are provided as a space in which students can form bonds of fellowship and support during training.Alongside this cell groups also provide a platform for collaborative working, an important aspect of each student’s formational development.Students work together to produce a Worship Portfolio as part of their Worship Skills Development.Each student’s portfolio is developed by visiting each other’s local context and observing each other leading a service and/or preaching.Feedback is compiled and collated into a portfolio over the year. Each student submits their Worship Portfolio in June of year one as evidence of Worship Skills Development and collaborative working.

The Worship Portfolio:

Developing Your Worship Style:

Feedback forms are provided to capture information on different aspects of leading worship such as:Leadership Skills, Practical Matters and Planning Skills.The feedback forms provide evidence of development in worship skills and are captured in the Worship Portfolio.

Collaborative Working Skills:

Collaborative working should be evident in the arranging of the church visits and the cell group feedback conversations which determine the feedback forms in the worship portfolio; and also in the written individual reflection assignment titled “Reflecting on the process of group collaboration”.

What is the role of a Cell Group Facilitator?

The role of the Cell Group Facilitator is primarily focused on the evaluation of worship by students in their own context.The CGF’s role will be to observe and give feedback on the worship performance of students in collaboration with the rest of the cell group.It is expected that each CGF will have responsibility for at least two students, and will work in collaboration with other CGF’s in their cell group.CGF’s will take responsibility for at least two students within the group, attending their context/parish when the student leads worship or preaches.The CGF’s facilitate the group conversation after each service of worship and assists the group in providing a group feedback on the act of worship.

What support is provided to Cell Group Facilitators?

Full training in the evaluation of worship is provided by the Diocesan Vocations and Training Team.Additionally some general information regarding the production of the Worship Portfolio and the reflection write up are provided.

Cell Group Expectations and Time Table:

The visits to the student’s local context take place in term two, with at least two visits minimum to each student’s context in Term 2 of training.This allows for evidence of development to be documented in the feedback forms.The group can however visit each other’s context as often as wished.The cell group is expected to meet four times in the first academic year, see table below.

Term 1

Meeting One: 16th September to 17th October 2019

Meeting Two: 21st October to 9th December (after half term)

Focus: residential weekend feedback, worship portfolio feedback forms, schedule local context visits for term 2.

Term 2

Meeting Three: 6th January to 30th March 2020 (10 Sundays)

Focus: visit to each student’s local context by the group and cell group facilitator, feedback form discussed and agreed for each student; consider Worship Portfolio format and production.

Term 3

Meeting Four: 20th April to 13th June.

Focus: collate feedback forms; agree the content of each student’s portfolio. Write up reflection on the process of collaboration. Submit both Worship Portfolio and Individual Reflection. Deadline: June.