The overwhelming volume of Christian ministry throughout history and worldwide today is lay ministry. It is rooted in the commission which each Christian receives at their baptism.
Lay ministry covers an enormously wide variety of expressions, including acts of pastoral care, charitable service and supportive prayer.
A significant proportion of lay ministry is therefore informal, organic and even unrecognised. Within the Church of Ireland, there are opportunities for training and authorisation in dedicated and licensed lay ministry positions.
These can include Youth Workers, Lay Readers, missionaries, musicians and educators.
Today many chaplains are not ordained, working in hospitals, schools, prisons, universities and alongside the Defence Forces.
Each lay ministry role therefore comes with its own form of selection and training, as they often require specialist approaches. While those in lay ministry have often been at the cutting edge of some of the Church’s historic developments, lay ministry cannot be understood in isolation.
At its heart lay ministry is a partnership with the ordained, for the benefit of the wider Church and for the glory of God.
The successful partnership between people and priest, can lead to significant renewal for individuals, parishes and communities.