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Readers in the Church of England to be better equipped to teach and serve

by Cara Bentley

Readers in the Church of England are people who are not ordained but may serve in church as lay preachers, by leading music or assisting in the teaching, outreach and pastoral work of the minister.

Rt Rev Martyn Snow, the Bishop of Leicester and the Chair of the Central Readers Council, wants the Church to take a 'fresh perspective' on ecclesiastical life and to be challenged.

Bishop Martyn told Premier: "Readers come from all walks of life and are involved in a wide variety of ministries, from preaching and worship leading, through to leadership in Messy Churches and other fresh expressions of church. They are trained theologians as well as practitioners and without them the church in many places would not be able to continue."

He added: "Christian communities offer a wonderful opportunity for people of all backgrounds to contribute to the common good of church and society. They also offer a safe environment for people to explore their contributions and gifts. We want to encourage this in every way."

The booklet says lay people are 'a wonderful gift from God to the church' who are 'uniquely equipped to enable all baptised Christians to live out their Christian faith in the places where they spend the majority of their time'.

It continues: 'As people who daily move between the worlds of work, home, social networks and church, Lay Ministers can teach the faith and play a part in leadership such that all God's people grow in confident and humble witness to God's kingdom.'

Bishop Martyn highlights how lay people are in a unique position of reaching 'the 93%' of people who do not engage with the Church at all in the UK as they will have jobs outside of the church.

He said: "At this point in our history, we believe that the church needs ministers to focus on teaching the faith, enabling mission in every day life and leading in church and society. We hope that many young people from diverse backgrounds will consider whether God is calling them to this exciting ministry."

The areas of encouragement mostly involve equipping church goers to tell the gospel to those outside the church, to be more confident in Bible teaching and to become a model of 'everyday faith'.

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