Reader Training for the Church of England

Are you thinking about Reader ministry?

Readers are lay people, called by God, trained and licensed by the Church to preach, teach, lead worship and assist in the Church’s pastoral and evangelistic outreach.

If you think you may be called to the Reader ministry, you should, in the first instance, talk to your Vicar or Priest-in-Charge. The Diocese has a process for selecting Reader candidates, and you would normally enter that process with a recommendation from your parish to the Warden of Readers.

Once you have been recommended for training, the Church of England is committed to offering this free of charge.


Training for Reader ministry


In Carlisle Diocese, the training of Readers is undertaken by Cumbria Christian Learning. The course normally takes two years of part-time study.

Each year, you will be studying three modules, i.e. one per term, which are normally delivered through seven local two-hour tutorials and a Saturday Day School. In addition to this, you will be required to attend one residential weekend each year.

You will be studying alongside those training for the ordained ministry, and the programme consists of the following modules:

Year 1

  • Introduction to the Old Testament
  • Introduction to the New Testament
  • Introduction to Preaching in the Contemporary World

Year 2

  • Introduction to Christian Doctrine
  • Foundations for Ministry and Worship in Context
  • Introduction to Pastoral Care


As part of your training, you will also undertake a placement at a different church from your own. The placement is a key aspect of the preparation for your Reader ministry. It is designed to give you a different experience of, and some fresh perspectives on, church and ministry to enable you to learn and reflect upon mission and ministry today.

The placement is integrated into the ‘Foundations for Ministry and Worship in Context’ module and normally takes place from Advent to Easter during your second year on the course.

Time commitment

Learning takes time, and studying is hard work. But, as those who have taken this road before you have found, it is also stimulating, inspiring and highly rewarding.

You can expect to learn to read the Bible with new eyes, gain fresh perspectives on the art of preaching, explore the tenets of our Christian faith, find out fascinating things about liturgy and worship, and gain better insights into pastoral care, especially as it relates to loss and bereavement.

Normally, we think that you would need to allow on average between eight and twelve hours per week for personal study. However, this will vary from week to week and depend on how fast and how widely you read.

Resources and other help

For each module, there is a site on Moodle, our Virtual Learning Environment. This has the full details of the content of the module, including information about the aims, content and readings for each of the tutorial sessions.

The Moodle site also provides resources such as scanned articles or extracts from books to help you with your studies, and you will find details about the work you will be required to do and how the module is assessed. This may include essays, magazine articles, recordings of sermons, Bible studies etc.

Cumbria Christian Learning also provides book boxes, which will be available at all tutorials, as well as access to our substantial collection of books at Rydal Hall library.

To help you get started, there is an induction day offering some general information as well as a study skills day, on which we explore how to write assignments, become a critical reader, undertake research etc.


Upon successful completion of the course you will normally receive a Certificate of Higher Education in Theology, Ministry and Mission, which is awarded by Durham University.