Worship leading and lay preaching

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There are two routes to becoming a Lay Preacher in the United Reformed Church:

Locally-Recognised Lay Preachers usually pursue a programme which takes about 12 months through their synod. In many synods this consists of a series of five Local Introductory Training Experience (LITE) courses taken in small groups close to their home church, with assignments to be completed. The five courses, which each include 3 to 10 sessions, are:

  1. Introductory Course - You, the Bible, God and Worship 
    AIM: To provide a basic introduction to studying theology with a purpose in mind.
  2. Getting to grips with the Bible
    AIM: To provide helpful and practical approaches to understanding the Bible.
  3. Talking about God
    AIM: To stimulate faith through thinking and talking about God.
  4. Leading Worship
    AIM: To help to apply the Bible and theology in the design and conduct of worship.
  5. God’s Word for Today
    AIM: To help to proclaim God’s word and make it relevant.


Further details of the course content can be found through (LITE) Having successfully conducted an assessed service the applicant will usually be recognised by their synod and listed in the Synod year book as a lay preacher. Some synods have designed their own alternatives to the LITE course. Someone recognised in their own synod as a lay preacher may not automatically be recognised as such if they move to a different synod.

Assembly Accredited Lay Preachers pursue a programme which takes three years, overseen by both their synod and the Assembly education and learning committee.

The first year requires completion of the first four of the LITE courses designated for synod-recognised lay preachers, with a different and more stretching set of assignments. This is known as LITE PLUS. It does not include the ‘God’s Word for Today’ course because this content is covered in more depth in the second year’s programme.

The second year consists of the ‘Gateways into Worship’ course, completed over an academic year (September to June) and is tutored within the synod and includes a residential weekend in each of three terms; a supervised placement with a local church other than the student’s own and completion of a number of assignments marked centrally. https://urc.org.uk/more-about-tls-one-year-courses.html

The third year of mentored reflective practice offers the potential preacher a wide experience of shaping and leading different kinds of worship with the support of an experienced mentor.

TLS 1 Year button

There are assessed services at two points – at the end of ‘Gateways into Worship’ (to give feedback on progress) and at the end of the year of mentored reflective practice (to decide if the required standard for Assembly accreditation has been met).

Assembly accreditation is transferable wherever the preacher finds themselves in the United Reformed Church, and is also recognised by ecumenical partners. Assembly Accredited Lay Preachers are eligible to apply for up to £200 per year towards their ongoing development. Information on this can be found here.




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