Friday, 20 January 2012

LLM/Reader stats and questions raised

I did not realise that the Church of England church statistics report included data about ministers and ages as well as all the attendance data.  It was interesting to stumble across in the last third of the report, and stumbling I was after forty or so pages.  There in front of my eyes was all the data I often wonder about, all in one place.

As of 2009/10 LLMs/Readers made up 25% of the Church of England licensed ministers.  Another 9% were retired and retained their permission to officiate; that's 34% of all CofE ministers being lay.

In terms of real numbers there were just under 9,900 LLMs in the church countrywide with 229 in the Diocese of Oxford.

This number is reducing year on year, not because of lack of uptake but because "natural depletion" with age looses huge numbers.  In fact looking at the age profiles raises worries about the future of lay ministry in ten years time.  There really is a need to find more younger people who are being called to a lay ministry; especially since so much missionary work is perfect for the laity.

So I looked for the definition of younger LLM and found the bracket that shocked me, although I don't know why considering the demographics I see at LLM events.  The youngest bracket is "under 40" and only 1% of LLMs in the Church of England are under 40 .  What a worryingly small percentage.  And although its improving there's still only 5% of those in training being under 40.

I wonder why that is?

Is it because most people with a calling to ministry at a young age are encouraged into the priesthood?

Is it because it's hard to balance family life and work as it is without a ministry?

Is it because people don't know it exists?

Is it because it's seen as a retired ministry?

Is it because younger people find ways of following their calling without a formalised ministry?
I'd love to know what you think.


UKViewer said...


Our single Reader is 76 and still very able. But she's had to slow down a little in the last year or so.

We don't have anyone coming through for Reader Ministry? I think that there's many reasons, one of which is the 3 year study of theology required. Many either don't have the time until later in life, or are just worried about coping with another Academic Course of study, particularly if they have a first degree.

I also think that there is real pressure on work and families nowadays, and people are reluctant to give up their time on a voluntary basis (Volunteering overall is falling across the country).

We've managed to train 2 Worship Leaders as ALM in the past year and have another coming forward. Diocese are really pushing the role of ALM in various roles, and trying to make training as short, but relevant as possible. Public recognition of the individuals ministry is brought by the Bishop or Arch Deacon coming to church to install them as ALM.

I know one or two people, who if they didn't have young families, would possibly be able to exercise a Reader Ministry - but they've got to hear the call and be prepared to give up lots of their time with family and children, perhaps a sacrifice to far.

I think that people are also finding it harder to hear the call - there's so much 'noise' in the world, that their small inner voiced is drowned out by worldly needs.

I'm hoping that I'm wrong, because we need more not less, Readers across the church.

LLM Calling said...

We don't seem to have ALM here and it's great to hear about this calling.

I think you're right about hearing the call as well; there's a lot of noise and a lot of doubt which makes it very hard.

Thanks for your input

LLM Calling said...

As often happens with my blog posts, most of the debate has happened around the post on twitter. I would urge you to look at the stream between 1030 and 1130am on 20th January for @emmuk74 to see the debate and join in if you wish.