A £44,000 a year job will involve living at a historic Ribble Valley 'retreat house' leading a new evangelical mission.

Whalley Abbey is to be the heart of a new drive to involve lay members of the Church of England in spreading its message across Lancashire.

By 2020 it will host a ‘Centre of Christian Discipleship’ based in the historic Ribble Valley site's existing Retreat House.

A small group of less than half a dozen ordained and lay church members will live in the building to offer hospitality to groups and individuals.

The centre will be at the heart of expanded Diocese of Blackburn spirituality programme of retreats, quiet days and discipleship training.

The new evangelical mission will be headed up by a £44,0000 Director of Discipleship reporting to The Venerable Mark Ireland, the Archdeacon of Blackburn.

The discipleship programme will aim to encourage better knowledge of the Bible, praying with greater depth and urgency and encourage people to give more generously of their time, talents and money to the Church of England across Lancashire.

The Centre for Christian Discipleship's Christian community at the Retreat House will follow a common rule of life, praying for the diocese and the world and sharing in the offering of hospitality to visitors.

Whalley Abbey has been a Christian site since 1296, originally a Cistercian Monastery until the 16th Century when it was sold as a private house. It was bought back by the Church of England in 1923.

Bishop of Blackburn, the Rt Rev Julian Henderson said: “The plans for the Centre of Christian Discipleship will make the Abbey a hub of prayer, hospitality and mission for parishes of the diocese that is fit for the 21st century; all the time drawing on the rich history of the former Cistercian abbey.

“The plans also fulfil one of the original hopes for Whalley Abbey when it was purchased back from private ownership in 1923, to become a centre for lay training and adult education."

The Ven Ireland said: “Our plans for the Abbey are the result of an extensive process of consultation. We are excited by the potential it offers.”

The new discipleship programme will include ‘Pathways to Prayer’ workshops around the county, offering guidance on various styles of prayer and special 'Clergy Study Days'.

Interviews for the Director of Discipleship post take place on November 7.