Growing Vocations

There are five distinct areas of work being undertaken by the Ministry Division

Growing Vocations

For a growing church, all Christians should be encouraged and supported in discerning what God is calling them to. To this end, 'Growing Vocations' is about enabling a culture where calling is nurtured and celebrated 

God is calling a great diversity of people to many different roles. God calls each person to become their unique self in Christ and often to take on specific tasks, jobs or ministries.  This calling is what we call 'vocation'; the call to follow Jesus in a specific way of life in a particular context.  This call is developed through a prayerful relationship with God, through Christian experience and through others who discern and encourage. For a growing church, all Christians should be encouraged and supported in discerning what God is calling them to.  To this end, 'Growing Vocations' is about enabling a culture where calling is nurtured and celebrated.

Through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Church as the body of Christ also discerns what is needed in order to be an effective participant in the mission of God in the world. Our licensed, authorised ordained and lay minsters are a vital expression of the vocation of the Church. They are our workers who will gather in the plentiful harvest. The dioceses have told us that the ministry needs of the future have a different emphasis from the needs of the late 20th century.  They are looking for a cohort of candidates from a range of kinds, abilities and backgrounds and particularly those who are younger, more diverse and display the qualities of being adaptable, collaborative and missional. They are seeking self-supporting ministers as well as stipendiaries; chaplains, pioneers and pastors as well as incumbents. Growing Vocations is about encouraging a flourishing of all calls to ministry, supporting dioceses to develop a strategy suited to their context. A realistic assessment of the total number of clergy forecasts a considerable reduction over the next 10 years, predominately due to retirement. For this reason, The Church of England is seeking an increase of 50% in the number of candidates for ordained ministry.

In order to understand how to prioritise our efforts and allocate resources we aspire to this outcome, keeping in mind that it is God who calls and we cannot recruit those who are not called, but only remove barriers for those who are.

We are:

  • Providing resources and statistics for Dioceses, parish leaders and members of the Church of England exploring vocation.
  • Working with Diocesan Officers to develop and share best practices to encourage and respond to people's vocations
  • Working with dioceses and other organisations to pilot initiatives that directly increase the number of ordinands that are Minority Ethnic, to increase social diversity and to increase the number ordinands under 32.
  • Developing national messaging through multiple channels to support a culture of vocation
  • Researching the discernment, development and formation of vocations.

God wants each of us to be the person he has called us to be. For some that message is a call to serve in His church in one of a variety of ways. 

Developing Discipleship

Nurturing discipleship across the Church is vital as the Church of England seeks spiritual and numerical growth. Nurturing discipleship lies at the heart of re-imagining both lay and ordained ministry

To be a disciple is to be called to a life of learning and formation in the likeness of Christ. Jesus calls men and women to be disciples: to learn from him, to pattern their lives upon his life, to follow him. Disciples are formed and sustained primarily through the grace of God seen in the witness of the local church. The local church is a community dedicated to a life of prayer, learning, service and worship.  The community live this out when they gather on Sunday for worship.  At the end of the service the congregation are sent out to live their discipleship in daily life.

Disciples are formed through the ancient discipline of catechesis, teaching the faith to those who are ready to learn more. However the learning from and following of Jesus doesn't stop at christening or confirmation. Discipleship continues throughout the whole of the Christian life through being with Jesus and being sent out. Lay or ordained, we grow in our discipleship through Christian witness at work and in our homes, in our prayers and in our worship. Divine and human agency both play their part.

Nurturing discipleship across the Church is vital as the Church of England seeks spiritual and numerical growth. Nurturing discipleship lies at the heart of re-imagining both lay and ordained ministry.  There are many good things and excellent work happening to develop discipleship but there are significant obstacles before our hopeful future is realised.  According to a recent report, lay development and discipleship are not clearly articulated as strategic priorities in most dioceses. It was widely perceived that the biggest obstacle in lay development is the clericalised culture of church and ministry. In addition, although some fine theological leadership is being given by individuals, overall there is no well-developed authoritative source for the theology of discipleship. The Church of England has not devoted a great deal of time and energy to reflection on the discipleship the whole people of God in recent times.

To address this we are:

  • Developing a Pilgrim Catechism in collaboration with the Pilgrim authors and Church House Publishing.
  • Partnering with other organisations on cross-discipline research to better understand the discipleship challenges and experiences of Christians.
  • Exploring the theology of discipleship in order to better resource the church.
  • Working in partnership with other divisions of the NCIs and Renewal and Reform work streams to develop cross-boundary solutions with an emphasis on whole-life discipleship and passing faith on to children and young people.

Lay Ministry Working Group

The task group has been set up to review current developments in traditional and emerging forms of lay ministry and to propose a framework for lay ministries in the Church of England.

The working group has been established in order to:

  • Review current developments in traditional and emerging forms of lay ministry in the light of the Resourcing the Future and Resourcing Ministerial Education diocesan consultations
  • Develop a theological understanding of lay ecclesial ministries and the complementarity of lay and ordained ministries
  • Investigate what hinders the exercise of lay ministries and propose changes to current practice in order to remove these hindrances
  • Propose a framework for lay ministries in the Church of England which respects diversity of expression between dioceses and encourages shared learning, good practice and interconnectedness across the Church of England
  • Review the resources currently allocated to lay ministerial education and development and to propose changes

The group has been engaged in a broad consultation with dioceses and is working closely with the Lay Leadership task group. 

Resourcing Ministerial Education

The guiding vision of Resourcing Ministerial Education (RME) is of a growing Church with a flourishing ministry. The RME proposals respond to the aspirations of the dioceses expressed for their future requirements for ministry and leadership.

The guiding vision of Resourcing Ministerial Education is of a growing Church with a flourishing ministry. From the time of the Acts of the Apostles, the Church has needed to reflect on the provision of ministry as the Spirit guides and forms the Christian community. In Acts 1, we read of the appointment of Matthias. In Acts 6, a growing Church needs new forms of ministry and the seven are set aside to support the work of the apostles, to offer ministry to the Hellenistic communities and for the work of carrying the gospel to new places.

In Acts 14, at the end of the first missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas returned to the places where the church has been planted and "appointed presbyters for them in every church" (14.23). In Acts 20, in Paul's speech to the Ephesian presbyters, we are offered a window on the care taken in the early church in the formation of those who will exercise ministry (diakonia) and oversight (episcope) of their own lives and of the Church of Jesus Christ.

So in our own generation as we prayerfully consider the call to make disciples and proclaim the gospel afresh, the Church of England needs to reflect deeply on the provision, formation and support of lay and ordained ministry in dioceses and parishes.

The Body of Christ needs ligaments and sinews to continue to grow up in every way into Christ, the source of our life and hope (Ephesians 4.15-16; Colossians 2.21).

The RME proposals respond to the aspirations of the dioceses expressed for their future requirements for ministry and leadership. These were principally that dioceses wished to halt decline and to grow. The key requirements stated by the dioceses were:

  • Increase in the supply of ministers to close the gap between the projected number and the aspiration of the dioceses to both sustain and innovate
  • A new emphasis on mission, collaboration and adaptability to changing needs
  • More ministers suited for new forms of church and non-traditional settings
  • Development of lay ministries alongside ordained

Future Clergy

Clergy whose leadership is marked by being missional, adaptable and collaborative are key to a growing Church and a flourishing ministry.  Future clergy builds on work with discipleship and vocations in reviewing the Discernment and Selection process for clergy.

Clergy whose leadership is marked by being missional, adaptable and collaborative are key to a growing Church and a flourishing ministry.  Future Clergy builds on work with discipleship and vocations in reviewing the Discernment and Selection process for clergy.  It responds to the call from the Dioceses for the selection of ministers whose leadership is more suited to current mission needs and to enable an increase in the number and diversity of those considered for ordination.

It is rooted is rooted theologically in the context of life-long discernment and formation of women and men who will enable the church to participate in the mission of God in the world as ministers of the Church of England in a time of change and growth.

The review has two points of focus. The first is looking at the Selection Criteria through consultation with stakeholders, especially the College of Bishops. This is about the gifts and qualities that we want to see in ordained clergy. Bishops have been invited to write stories about the qualities of priests that they most admire and to offer comment on the current criteria.  This material will be gathered up in the Autumn and will be presented back to the College at their meeting in January as part of a wider discussion on the nature of ministry.

The second focus looks at the discernment and selection procedures, processes and paperwork. Consultation events with stakeholders have worked with good practice in terms of diversity and access for underrepresented groups and to keep pace with rapid social and technological change as a result of which all the major systems of professional selection which BAPs resembled forty years ago have changed significantly.

It is proposed that the last BAPs under the existing system will take place in June 2018 so that there is no loss of BAP capacity when moving from the old to the new system.

NCI's

(National Church Institutions) The collective name for the 7 administrative bodies that work together to support the mission and ministries of the Church

BAP

(Bishops' Advisory Panel) The process prospective clergy go through to be selected for training

Diocese

Main administrative and pastoral area in the Church of England – often roughly coincides with local county boundaries. There are 42 dioceses.

Lay

All people in the church, often used for those who are not ordained.

Ordinand

Someone who is currently being trained to be a member of the clergy