What is Reader ministry?
Readers are lay people who have been trained for ministry and licensed by the Bishop. The mission statement of Newcastle’s Readers is:
Readers exist to preach and teach the Gospel, to lead worship, to develop a supportive ministry for those exploring their faith, and to energise others to be drawn to God through all that they are and do both inside and outside the church.
Readers honour the mission statement in many different ways, including the following:
- Acting as Minister of the Word at the Eucharist, Preaching and leading non-Eucharistic worship
- Working with their vicar, and where applicable the local ministry team, to develop and implement Mission Action Plans
- Working with children and young people in schools and other settings
- Working as chaplains in hospitals, shops, schools and other settings
- Conducting funerals
- Leading Advent and Lent groups, house groups and other study groups
- Taking communion to housebound people
Reader ministry is both joyful and demanding. It is a calling to the whole person, and Readers are Readers all the time, in everything they do.
Is God calling you?
God calls us in many different ways. You might have a feeling deep in your bones that’s been there for years. Or perhaps the call comes as a bolt from the blue as you listen to a sermon or take communion or walk the dog. Perhaps friends and people in church have seen it or mentioned it – and perhaps you have ignored them for a while, but now you are beginning to wonder if they are right.
God calls all sorts of people at all sorts of times in their lives, regardless of race, nationality, career or qualifications. God needs all sorts of people to reach out and serve all sorts of people.
What is involved in exploring Reader ministry?
Any calling must be tested. When a candidate for Reader ministry is supported for selection by their incumbent and PCC, they will have their calling tested through the diocesan selection for training process.
After preparing by reflecting on the criteria for Reader Ministry they will attend a selection day, usually in May, when they will meet with some Readers and a panel of interviewers. They may then be recommended for training as a Reader.
Reader training usually lasts for three years and is done with Lindisfarne College of Theology. Training involves:
- Learning about the Bible, church history, church life and Christian doctrine, for example
- Skills training, for example in pastoral care, liturgy and leading worship. Trainee Readers also experience placements in different contexts
- Formation – learning to become a person ready for Reader ministry.
DBS clearance must be obtained before training begins.
What next? If you think Reader ministry may be your calling:
- Pray – take time to pray to God about this, and ask one or two others to pray for you
- Talk – see your vicar, talk through your sense of calling. If you have a Ministry Development Team, let them know about your exploration and listen to them. You may also be encouraged to talk with a Diocesan Vocations Adviser or another Reader
- Read and reflect – you may be able to borrow books from your vicar or use the Religious Resources Centre at Church House. Some suggested books can also be found here. You will see that some are specific to Reader ministry while others are about ordained ministry or more general.
- National Central Readers’ Council https://transformingministry.co.uk
- After Sunday www.aftersunday.org.uk
- London Institute for Contemporary Christianity www.licc.org.uk
If you want to talk to someone about your calling, please get in touch with Ce Pacitti firstname.lastname@example.org, Nic Denyer email@example.com or Jan Porter firstname.lastname@example.org.