Training and Formation

The purpose of ordination training is to equip you for a ministry in which you are continually learning. Developing a more thorough knowledge of the Christian faith – in the Scriptures and through the life, worship and teaching of the Church – is an important part of that purpose. But alongside the development of your thinking must go your formation as a minister, which will involve:

  • the growth in your personal faith in Christ;
  • a deepening of your disciplined, personal communion with God;
  • acquisition of ministerial skills and an understanding of how they might interact in mission with the culture of the world around us;
  • developing awareness of the sort of person you are and how you relate to others.

Training itself is and ought to be a demanding experience. It is part of continuing to discern your vocation and to discover what sort of ministry is appropriate for you.

You will be encouraged to undertake some theological learning and exploration of types of ministry during the discernment phase leading up to attending a Bishops’ Advisory Panel. This may be accredited learning, under the title of ‘Education for Discipleship’, through a college, course or diocesan programme.

The Church of England has a variety of theological colleges, which offer one-, two- and three-year full-time training. For the most part, training in a theological college will be residential.

The Church of England also has a national network of theological courses offering two or three years of part-time training. While on a theological course, candidates are not required to move house or change occupation, and the training takes place through a combination of week nights, weekends and summer or Easter schools. Candidates starting to train part time on theological courses are normally over the age of 32, but younger candidates can train in this way too. In addition there are mixed-mode schemes which enable candidates to train while in a lay ministry context. Candidates for ordained ministry who will be deployed locally might train on the diocese’s training scheme. The training is similar to that on a course but with greater emphasis on ministry in the local context and on the development of the local ministry team.

Once you have been sponsored for training, you will have to consult your bishop and Diocesan Director of Ordinands before applying to a theological college or Course. Full details of theological colleges and courses are available on the Ministry Division section of the Church of England website.

Some general guidance is given in what follows about pathways through training. However, you should bear in mind that full account will be taken of any prior learning you may have in theology and ministry and the best pathway for you within
your vocational journey will be found. In some cases this could involve a combination of types of training, for example some full-time and some part-time as appropriate.

If you are under 32 when you begin training you will normally undertake three years’ training full time at a college, unless you already have a degree in theology, in which case the course is usually two years.

If you are between the ages of 32 and 47 at the start of your training you will normally undertake either two years full time at a college (if sponsored as a potential incumbent) or three years part time on a course.

If you are aged 48 and over, you are most likely to train on a course though the length and content of your training may vary.
As you reflect upon and decide which form of training is most appropriate for you, you will liaise closely with your Diocesan Director of Ordinands, who will help you to think through the issues and advise you.

Training grants are available from Central Church Funds and no candidate who has been recommended for training will be prevented from training through lack of funds. Your Diocesan Director of Ordinands will explain in detail how the financing of your training will be arranged.