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Have you thought of Ordained Ministry?

There are lots of ways you can serve God and the wider world, but the Church does need priests and God is still in the business of calling some to ordination. And don’t worry if you’re not exactly like the priests and ministers you know. The Church is changing and needs leaders from every background to help build the Church of tomorrow.

What do ordained ministers do?

Revd Dawn Lucas, Curate at Knaphill with Brookwood, shares what life as an ordained minister looks like for some. “There’s a fair bit of flexibility and autonomy over my diary, even as a curate. I will generally preach at, or lead, at least one of our Sunday services each week which needs time spent in prayer and preparation. I also preside at a mid-week communion service on a rotational basis with the other clergy in the parish.

“I lead Morning Prayer once a week and attend staff meetings, and most weeks there’ll be at least one evening when I’m at another meeting. We tend to run courses in the evenings to allow those who work during the day to attend. I’ve recently finished leading Alpha on a Thursday evening for example and last week I chaired a meeting with the Children’s Ministry Team, which I oversee.

“Another important part of my week is pastoral care, which might include visiting church members in hospitals, care homes or meeting elsewhere for a chat, prayer and coffee. I may meet a family enquiring about baptism for their new baby or a bereaved person to help guide them through preparing a funeral for their loved one.

“It is busy, fulfilling work and a privilege to serve and walk alongside people, wherever they are on their journey of life and faith. I never dreamt I would be a priest in the Church of England but I know I’m exactly where God wants me to be and I love it!”

Being an ordained minister is about being a leader in ministry and mission in a community. Ministers enable the whole people of God to respond to his gracious call. That will include things like:

  • Sunday ministry, through both word and sacrament. As well as helping others to grow in their own gifts of leading and preaching.
  • Directing vision and strategic leadership through the work of the PCC (Parochial Church Council) and other leadership teams.
  • Serving the local community through weddings, funerals and baptisms, and helping to build relationships with individuals and families.
  • Building, training and inspiring the teams that lead the church’s work.
  • Supporting children and youth work, both in the church and the wider community.
  • Developing community partnerships to serve the needs of the whole parish. For example, working with local schools to reach children and families with God’s love.
  • Mission in the broadest sense, including racial justice and care of creation.
  • Helping the whole church confidently to proclaim the good news of Jesus in word and deed. That means both faithful witness in the every day and through seeker courses (e.g. Alpha, Pilgrim).
  • Pastoral care, visiting and ministering to the most vulnerable.
  • Ensuring there is a healthy safeguarding culture in every part of the church’s life.

This is just a taster of the kinds of things ordained ministers do. Incumbents (who are the primary leaders of a parish) take overall responsibility for this work, but Assistant Ministers will also share in these responsibilities.

Pathway to ordination

If this description of ordained ministry excites you, it may well be this is what God is calling you to. To support you in exploring your calling, there are various steps to take. 
First, read and pray! There’s lots of information online about ordained ministry – we’d recommend the Church of England website as a great starting point.

There are also two books we’d suggest as especially helpful reading:

Alongside these books, reading through the whole ordination service liturgy (known as the Ordinal) will give you a good insight as to what the Church believes ordained ministry entails. There are similar services both for deacons and priests but with some important differences.

Another important step is to have a conversation with the priest in charge of your church. They can give you prayerful support and help you to reflect on, and respond to, what God may be saying to you. 

If it seems right to move forwards, they will be put you in touch with the Diocesan Director of Ordinands, (DDO), Craig Holmes. Normally the DDO connects you to a Local Vocations Adviser (LVA) to help you understand the commitment you would be making, and whether you could be well-suited to this ministry.

You may have one or more meetings with the LVA and if it seems right to move forward, they will write a supporting report for the DDO. After this, you’ll enter into a formal, national discernment process.

But you don’t need to wait to start gaining experience. The discernment process will look at what areas of ministry you’re already involved in as evidence of your suitability for ordained ministry. So whether you’re just starting out or an active member of a church team, talk to your minister about how you can gain experience of ministry and leadership.


So what does the Discernment journey entail? Discernment is a supportive and formational process which usually means meeting one-to-one with the DDO (or an Assistant DDO) while exploring the six qualities which underpin discernment:

  • Fruitfulness
  • Wisdom
  • Love for God
  • Call to ministry
  • Potential
  • Love for people

You will meet with the DDO approximately monthly over the course of at least a year and attend two national panels. The final panel will then make a recommendation to the Bishop about whether it seems right for you to begin ordination training. 

Those recommended for training will then explore the various pathways and colleges which offer ordination training. This can be either full-time or part-time, residential or context-based, depending on the candidate’s age and the kind of ministry they are offering (primary leadership or assistant ministry).

If you’d like to know more or if this raises any further questions, either speak to your local minister or contact the DDO, Craig Holmes

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