If you are aged 18 to 30 and want to discern more clearly the calling God has for you, then a Ministry Experience Scheme (MES) year will give you the opportunity to discover your unique gifts and skills through Christian ministry and leadership experience.
For over 10 years, MES has provided a broad ministry experience for young adults - you can discover what you like and what you are good at. Each person’s year will look different but will be formed around practical experience, such as chaplaincy, social justice ministry, preaching and Sunday services, digital media, pastoral visiting, event organisation, evangelism and kids and youth work. As far as possible, a wide range of areas can be covered.
The year also includes theological study which can be tailored to you - it doesn't matter if you have no prior experience or already have a theology degree.
In 2023 the Future Youth (FY) strand of MES was launched. If you already know you are passionate about children's and/or youth work then this could be for you. Training is run nationally and is geared towards this important ministry area.
There are many schemes with different placements available across the UK and Europe. Please visit the scheme map page to see where you could go and what you could be doing; and you can use our webform on this page to make an enquiry to any scheme and find out more. Each scheme operates a little differently from each other and run their own application and interview procedures.
All MES and FY participants are able to attend the National MES Conference.
Both MES and FY is free to do with expenses and accommodation included.
Read our participant's stories below of how the Ministry Experience Scheme helped them discern their vocation, and find stories, past and present, across the Church of England's social media channels by following #MESyear.
And if you would like to hear further stories from current MES participants, please sign up to the MES newsletter.
My MES year gave me the opportunity to continue growing with God.
I was able to just join in, watching and learning so much from the church communities, their leaders, worship and ministry. The breadth of experience, and being able to have a go at things for the first time with great encouragement and guidance was so valuable. It has been a real privilege to work alongside so many different people. It also gave me the space and focus to continuing discerning what God is calling me to and that has been such a gift.
A highlight of my MES year was hosting Alpha small groups.
At the first group I helped with a friend of mine gave his life to Christ and this was the first time I had witnessed this happen. I was so happy for him and I also learned a lot, it increased my faith and encouraged me to keep sharing the good news with people.
Others became Christians at later Alphas as well, God was working in people's lives through our ministry, it was a joy to be a part of it all.
My year doing the MES was a great time of getting to know people from various backgrounds through which I learned so much about various ways in which worship is expressed.
The various classes that we had during the week exposed me to many perspectives, encouraging my walk with God. The projects and assignments that I took part in acted as ‘time capsules’; showing where I was with God at the time and they caused me to reflect, acting as catalysts for my growth.
I have loved my MES year!
It has been great having opportunity to be creative in evangelism. Offering doorstep prayers and blessings to students was an exciting but scary initiative that we began. It was encouraging to pray with some of the people we encountered. Over the year I think God revealed to me the things that I am passionate about and the areas that he wants me to invest in. I have absolutely loved walking alongside people who are newer to faith and watching them grow. Equipping people for mission is also something I have come to realise that I am passionate about, and it has been such a joy to do more of that this year.
Future Youth is a strand of MES that focuses on providing youth and children's ministry opportunities for those who would specifically like to explore this important and much needed area of ministry.
Find your local MES programme
The Ministry Experience Scheme is locally led, so every diocese will have their own distinct flavour. Where will your journey take you?
Enquire about any scheme that interests you, including children, young people and families ministry opportunities.
A younger, more diverse church
"I hope and pray that you will be part of God's answer to this great challenge of trying to help the Church of England represent, and look like, and serve the great diversity of people in our nation; and to become a younger church."
Stephen Cottrell, Archbishop of York outlines how important MES is to the wider vision of the Church of England including to be a church that is younger and more diverse.