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Exploring Ordained Ministry

We can all play a unique part in building the Kingdom of God, dedicating our gifts as a living sacrifice. Vocational living means responding to God with our whole selves.

We believe all Christians are called to serve God with their given gifts and talents. So, the question is not if you are called, it’s where you are called.

You are called!

We can all play a unique part in building the Kingdom of God, dedicating our gifts as a living sacrifice. Vocational living means responding to God with our whole selves.

We believe all Christians are called to serve God with their given gifts and talents. So, the question is not if you are called, it’s where you are called.

For some, this will be specific calling to ministry, whether lay or ordained.

But how will you know and be certain where God wants you to serve? We have put together information around different types of (ordained) priestly ministry to help you in your exploration.

Ordained Ministry Pathways

  • Incumbent

    Responsible for a parish as vicar or priest in charge. they combine evangelism with pastoral care, preaching, teaching and leading worship, and aim to develop the life of the whole people of God in their service of the Church and the world.

    They will normally be paid by the Church and work full time although some will offer to serve as financially self-supporting and will not receive payment.        

  • Assistant

    Not anticipating ministry at incumbent level, they will work as an assistant minister in a parish, either full or part time.  They will be financially self-supporting.

  • Distinctive Deacon

    Deacons minister in the community, building bridges and networking, creating and serving community. They can have incumbent status

  • Ordained Pioneer Minister

    Priests or deacons with a vocation to serve and guide the Church in developing fresh expressions of church life in a wide variety of ways focussing on initiating new projects.

  • Minister in Secular Employment

    If your vocation is focused on your workplace it may be appropriate to explore this pathway, which retains a parochial element as well.                                                          

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Begin Your Vocational Journey by

Talking to your Parish Priest or Leader

The slightest hint of a whisper to serve God in the ordained priestly ministry is enough to go and see your parish priest who will be happy to talk this through. It may well seem strange though it is surprising how often you find they have been waiting for you to come and see them for some time.

It is helpful to chat and pray through your feelings with close Christian friends.

Talk to your Area Vocations Adviser

If you and your parish priest/leader feel there is a potential call to ordained ministry then he/she will refer you to the Diocesan Director of Ordinands

Find out more about the diocesan discernment process.

You are next! 

If you are still unsure and need help with your exploration, first of all, get in touch with you minister, vicar or priest in your church. 

Alternatively you can find a vocations adviser near you.

While Exploring Your Vocation

Exploring vocations can be a very anxious moment in your life, full of questions and uncertainly as you embark on the discernment journey.

Articulating Your Call (The four stages)

In your vocational journey, those discerning your vocation alongside you tend to look out for four important signs.

  • First: Becoming aware that God may be calling you to something.
  • Second: Being able to articulate your calling and explore
  • Third: A desire to follow your calling and a confidence that it is possible and of God
  • Fourth: Making the decision to allow the Church to formally test your calling.

As a Christian who feels called to ordained ministry, one of the things that set you apart includes your sense of calling, the conviction and you commitment to it. There are, as it were, several markers (also known as Qualities for Discernment). 

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.

Matthew 5:14-15

For more regarding ordination and shared discernment process, visit our Frequently Asked Questions Page.


Next steps

Pray

It’s important to spend time in prayer, asking for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to be open to whatever God is asking of you, and for the courage to say ‘yes’.

Read 

Explore some of the Bible’s many stories of calling, and reflect on how they speak to you.

Some places you could look are the book of Esther, 1 Samuel 3:1-10, John 20:1-18 and John 15:1-17.

Watch

You can also listen to/watch the stories of others who have been or going through the vocations journey. 

Visit the Vocations Playlist on our YouTube channel

Talk

Discuss your sense of call with people you trust – your spouse or civil partner, or close friends and family members.

Lay Ministry

Having a passion for God and a desire to serve him are both amazing, whether you end up as an ordained priest or not. You might decide to have a different career entirely, and to serve your own church in your spare time, in ways which match your gifts.

You may decide that being ordained just isn’t for you, or rather than being recommended for training as a priest, you may be advised that your talents and skills are more suited to another role.

Or you may decide on working full-time for the Church of England in a lay (non-ordained) capacity. If so, what are some of your options?

"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit – fruit that will last."
John 15:16

Find out about other varieties of church roles. 


For more information or to report anything wrong with this page please contact Sarah Wilson