Sunday, 26 April 2015

What Does An LLM Do?

LLM (Licensed Lay Minister) is one of those vague acronyms the Church of England loves so much. The old title was 'Reader' and the theory was that readers were 'Ministers of the Word' - preachers, teachers and readers of lessons. However, many people used being a reader as a kind of half way house to ordination, which led to the role being extended in all sorts of directions, especially pastoral. So, in many ways, a vague acronym makes more sense, and the general answer to "What does an LLM do?" is "It varies, depending on the LLM and the parish."

This particular LLM is a Bible geek, so that underlies my particular focus. I am also not keen on churchiness - by which I mean too much of the internal, mostly inward-looking stuff.

So the best answer I can give to the question posed is to provide a few examples of what I have been doing over the past year or so, both internally and externally. Not to show what all LLMs do, just what this LLM has been doing.


  • Within the parish I have been doing some preaching at St John’s, as well as covering odd services whilst Jeremy (our priest in charge) has been absent. Leading communion by extension was a novel experience.
  • LLM is considered to be a leadership role, so I end up ex-officio on both PCC (Parochial Church Council) and St John’s CLT (Church Leadership Team - you see what I meant about the CofE and acronyms). 
  • I have been asking around St John’s for ideas about making Parish Communion more attractive to visitors. My thanks to all who have given input on that.
  • As LLM I also sometimes get invited to meetings of the ‘ministry team’ (clergy team, really - this parish has two paid and two unpaid clergy), although in practice my relevance there is limited, I think. I am, though, hoping to persuade them to try out a slightly different preaching approach during the weeks after Trinity. We’ll see how that goes.


Outside the parish ‘system’ here are a few activities which (I think) relate to my LLM role:-
  • I lead a non-church-based housegroup. This is a small group with members from different churches and none. Studies are generally audio-visual and designed to focus more on Jesus in daily life rather than in church. We have just finished a Lent course based around Casablanca – a film which starts with the wilderness and ends in self-sacrifice.
  • I write this blog, of course, which is also meant to concern the intersection of God, the Bible, and daily life. At present I think it is a little lacking in direction and needs a rethink. Comments are always welcome.
  • Finally, a teenagers and parents group which I used to be involved with has come to an end, as the teenagers move on with their lives. Every blessing for the future to them and to their families.
The Guildford Diocese website has an interesting analysis of how LLMs fit into the overall ministry of the church here, including:
"Today the LLM’s position as being licensed and lay provides an opportunity for the Reader to be a bridge between the ‘secular’ and ‘sacred’ worlds."
The challenge is to make that work. Pretty much the same challenge every follower of Jesus has, really: living out our faith in the context of daily life.

Edit, 05/08/15: I have put a link from my entry on the 'Who's Who' section of our parish website to this article - as an indication of what 'LLM' means - so an update is called for.

I mentioned above the different preaching approach I was hoping the churches in the parish would try. That happened with a series on Mark's Gospel, and some of the results can be read on the parish website. If you look at the sidebar on this blog, under June and July, there is also a stack of posts with headings beginning 'Mark:', relating to the series - you can get a list, in reverse order and with a few extras, by clicking here.

Regrettably, Jeremy Tear, our community priest. is moving back up north to continue his ministry in West Warrington, so the parish will be running with a vacancy for a while. This will require more lay involvement in Sunday worship. This is potentially an important opportunity for the parish, so hopefully I, as a licensed local minister, will be able to play a useful part in that.

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