An ongoing life-long process

Formation is an ongoing life-long process, since we are continually formed and re-formed by the communities and other influences that surround us. Self-aware reflective Christian formation is a process of conscious discernment of all those influences, and a conscious decision to engage* (see below) the influences which shape us more fully into the form of Christ, and to reject those influences which take us further from Christ’s image.

Candidates for the specified ministry of Lay Preacher are required to participate in a ‘formation’ day in order to attain the VicTas Synod’s Certificate of Lay Preacher Studies, part of the training requirements for accreditation as a Lay Preacher by the candidate’s presbytery.

Sessions include the Basis of Union, the Code of Ethics and Ministry Practice for Lay Preachers, supervision, continuing education and support structures for the lay ministries of the Uniting Church.

Lay Preachers are not suddenly ‘formed’ by engaging with these foundational Uniting Church perspectives for a single day, but the formative influence of these foundations is important to reflect upon on this day, and throughout the ministry to be exercised by Lay Preachers and other lay leaders within the Church.



Preparation through pre-reading, thinking and writing (‘homework’) is expected of participants in order to make the most of the ‘formation weekend’. Formal assessment of your ‘homework’ responses is not required, but you will be expected to participate in small-group and whole-group discussions on the day.

Reading and reflection – please ensure you complete the readings before the day:

Read the “Basis of Union” (1992 edition), and answer the following questions:

  1. In one short paragraph what is the Basis of Union about…what is at the heart of the Basis of Union of the Uniting Church?
  2. What is the purpose or mission of the Uniting Church? How is this still relevant today?
  3. How does the Uniting Church understand the differences and links between Jesus Christ, ‘the Word’, and the Bible? (you may also find “How to Read the Bible” useful)
  4. How well does the one page document headed ‘The Uniting Church in Australia is a Christian community who…’ reflect the intent and substance of the Basis of Union?
  5. How does the Uniting Church understand the other Christian churches?
  6. Beyond the historical process of union in 1977, how does the Basis of Union continue to shape the Uniting Church
  7. What are the areas of challenge and opportunity for you and your church community in the Basis of Union?

Read the “Code of Ethics and Ministry Practice for Lay Preachers“, and answer the following questions:

  1. How are lay leaders expected to exercise the authority and power that comes with their position within the Church?
  2. Who has oversight of Lay Preachers and other lay leaders? How is this really shown in your local context, in your experience?
  3. Beyond the Sunday service of worship, what are the everyday pastoral implications of leading worship and preaching?
  4. What are the key differences between the two versions of the Code of Ethics and Ministry Practice? (hint: read

Additional Reading

Further readings with suggested questions for reflection follow below. These are not required reading before the formation weekend, but each adds to the information and perspectives expected of lay leaders. Please attempt as much of this as you’re able when you have time, and if you have questions you know who to ask…

Please read each relevant document below, then answer the questions following by making notes for your own learning, in your own terms rather than the language of the Uniting Church document. Include references or paragraph numbers where relevant, so you can later identify where you found an issue, topic, or requirement. Assessment of your responses is not required. Don’t stress if you can’t get it all done, but the more you read, engage* (see below) and reflect the more you’ll learn.

Read the “Docbyte on Worship”, “A very short Guide to the Service of the Lord’s Day” and “Ordered Liberty in Worship” (in the latter, there is no need to read the notes on individual services such as the marriage service, but do read ‘A Final Reminder…’), and answer the following questions:

  1. What is the basic liturgical flow of worship in your local congregation? Does the reflect the structure outlined in “A very short Guide …”?
  2. How does the Uniting Church maintain a balance between order and liberty?
  3. Who has responsibility for the worship life of a congregation?

Read “Important Resources for Leaders in the UCA” and answer the following questions:

  1. Which versions of the Bible are recommended for leaders? Why might this be? Which version of the Bible is in the pews of your local congregation? How might you deal with any differences?
  2. What are the main resources you use in preparing to lead worship and preach? How do these sit with the key emphases and patterns of the Uniting Church? How do you modify these to suit your local congregation? Which additional resources would be useful to add to your library?

Read “Pastoral (Professional) Supervision” and answer the following questions:

  1. How might you fulfil the Church’s expectation of appropriate supervision in your own ministry context?

Read “Lay Preacher Continuing Education” and answer the following questions:

  1. How will you continue to learn more about leading worship and preaching within the Uniting Church? Who else will assist you, or will continue to learn with you?

Read the Crosslight article “Permission to say ‘No’” and the linked article “Guidelines on personal boundaries in worship“.

  1. What practices need to change in your local congregation, and in the leadership you offer, to take account of these important matters?

Additional reading on the Basis of Union of the Uniting Church in Australia:

*What do we mean by ‘engage’?

Leadership within the Uniting Church is not about ‘learning by rote’ or simply repeating the patterns of former times or traditions. Engagement is an active process in which you consider the ideas presented (whether written, spoken, or presented in another way) and reflect on the ways in which those ideas resonate with your own context and experience, and the ways they do not.

Outright rejection of ideas is not engagement, and neither is simply repeating what you have been told. Engagement is about dialogue or discussion, considering other viewpoints and putting forward your own, listening to the experience of others and telling your own story. Engagement is about respect, both for the other and for yourself, and ultimately about respect for the image of God that is present in each person. Throughout the Bible we find people who engage with God, and with Jesus Christ, not simply by following a set of commandments, but by ‘wrestling’ with God, asking questions and challenging assumptions as well as listening and following.

In your engagement with the many aspects of leadership within the Uniting Church, you are invited to read, reflect and take note of the issues, priorities, questions or concerns that arise for you. You will find some answers in foundational documents of the Uniting Church, such as the Basis of Union. Other issues will require dialogue and discernment with some of the various councils of the Church. This is how leaders within the Uniting Church seek to respond to the challenges and opportunities of each time, and each place, remembering that God is always with us, and always calling us to witness to the good news of God’s love revealed in Jesus Christ.

Together, we better discern the will of God, and together we better witness to God’s love for all creation.