Ordained ministry


As God calls us on to different ministries and roles, we often have a sense of excitement or trepidation. If we commit ourselves to following God, it will inevitably mean sacrificing time and effort in order to prepare for this new ministry or role. For some people, this call is a life-long commitment to the ordained ministry.

The Church of England ordains priests who are called to shepherd and lead people in their worship of God and mission to the world. They do this through a ministry of word and sacrament. Ordained deacons are called to serve and equip the people of God to make Christ known. They assist priests as they share in the task of preaching and offering pastoral care in the church and in the community.

'Am I Called to Ministry?' evenings

If you are interested in either ordained or licensed lay ministry, please talk first with your vicar or chaplain before coming along to one of our ‘Am I Called to Ministry?’ evenings, which are held twice a year for six weeks. Please contact mindevadmin@bristoldiocese.org to find out when the next event is.

Spiritual Direction

You may find it helpful to meet with a spiritual director as you seek to discern God’s calling. A spiritual director does not help decide if you are suitable for licensed lay ministry but may be an important person to support you in your discernment journey. You can find out more about spiritual direction and start the process to put this support in place here.

What kind of person is called to be ordained?

The Church of England looks for six qualities in those who are called to ordained ministry. These qualities are:

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

In discerning if someone is called to ordained ministry, each of these qualities is explored in the context of a person’s relationship to Christ, the church, the world and themselves. 

Who decides if I am suitable for ordained ministry?

All candidates for ordained ministry work with both local and national advisors to discern their calling and suitability for ordained ministry. The discernment journey they undertake is one in which God is at work to form and prepare for this calling.

Candidates may find it helpful to talk to a vocation chaplain to explore their sense of calling to the ordained ministry in the Church of England further. 

A candidate for ordained ministry will work closely with the advisor for vocations and ordinands or an assistant (ADDO) as together they explore how the candidate inhabits the six qualities. This is a deep and probing process that takes time and may involve reading, writing and short placements in different churches. 

Candidates also have the opportunity to reflect on the qualities with other candidates for their mutual support by participating in monthly workshops.

Candidates will meet with a number of local and national advisers during their journey who will review various pieces of evidence against the six qualities for ordained ministry and make recommendations as to whether a candidate should proceed to the next stage. The decision whether to send a candidate for training for ordained ministry rests with the sponsoring bishop (currently Bishop Lee).

What training will I need?

If a candidate is recommended for training at national level and the sponsoring bishop agrees they will normally study theology for two or three years, alongside learning in a ministerial context. The Adviser for Vocations and Ordinands will work with the candidate and training institution to help determine the shape of that training and the support offered by the diocese. During this period of training the candidate is ‘formed’ for ordained ministry and their suitability is further determined with reference to the qualities.

What happens if I am ordained?

If a candidate successfully completes their training and is deemed to be suitable, the bishop will ordain them as a deacon, and, if appropriate, later as a priest, to serve in a training post under the supervision of a training incumbent.

I am wondering if I am called to ordained ministry – what do I do next?

The first step is to talk to your incumbent or chaplain. With their support you should then contact the Adviser for Vocations and Ordinands for an initial exploratory meeting and you may then be invited to attend the ‘Am I Called to Ministry?’ event.

Could God be calling you to ordained ministry?

Click on the images below to read about people who have followed God's call on their lives:

Michelle Martin Sam Sheppard Lucy Nagel Simon Leighton

Trev Meardon Aggy Palairet Jones Mutemwakwenda You?