Main administrative and pastoral area in the Church of England – often roughly coincides with local county boundaries. There are 42 dioceses.
A clergy person responsible for a parish and the cure of souls there.
A general term for the work of the church in worship, mission and pastoral care.
Study exploring the meaning of God's word
- Pastoral care
Supporting people in their different needs and circumstances
A person's sense that a specific role or course of action is being asked of them.
A person's sense that a specific role or course of action is being asked of them.
You will spend a year within a diocese exploring ministry, whilst gaining valuable life skills that will help to prepare you for your next steps. You will be given the opportunity to deepen your theological knowledge, gain practical and pastoral skills, and to reflect on your personal faith journey.
We will provide you with accommodation, basic living expenses and theological training. You will be given the opportunity to explore church life, supported by fellow participants and a mentor throughout your placement.
Read our participant's stories below of how the Ministry Experience Scheme helped them discern their vocations:
Jo: Finding my worth, dreams, love, and passion in God first
It's always been true for me that real learning happens when I embrace both theory and action.
Even just the thought of going through life constantly moving and acting, without any chance of stopping, reflecting, consolidating; makes me feel burnt out.
But similarly, the idea of simply talking, writing, thinking about leadership in the Church and the world makes me feel frustrated and hemmed in. One without the other and we blow up… or dry up!
For this reason, I'm so thankful for this year that I'm spending on the Ministry Experience Scheme at the Younger Leadership College in Nottingham.
The pattern set is one of breathing IN in our time spent together studying the Bible & praying, discussing theology- how it affects our discipleship and leadership, and sharing our joys and struggles. We then breathe OUT in our Church placements, serving in lots of ways throughout the week. Both are rich learning opportunities. One word I've used again and again in describing my experiences of this year is 'dense'.
I feel so full of what God is teaching me, my own personal journey feels so densely packed with lessons emerging left, right and centre.
As someone who is exploring the call to ordination in the Church of England, I feel immensely blessed for this season.
My day can look like a morning at college, talking brain-tingling theology, or a morning at a local charity I work with, talking 'real life' with women working in the sex industry.
My afternoons can be spent in meetings dreaming about the next stage of Church growth; or enjoying 'leadership lessons' round the fire with the Bishop. My evenings can look like organising and running dinners for new people at our Church or they can be wholly spent supporting and praying with Church members.
There's so much variety to my week and, on the whole, a great balance of breathing IN and breathing OUT.
It's really important to me to have a sustainable ministry – whatever that ministry is. I don’t want to get so puffed out that I can’t finish the race, but I equally don’t want to wait around for so long that I miss it. I’m learning, amidst the pressures of Church ministry, what it looks like to find my worth, my dreams, my love & passion in God first.
I want what I ‘do’ to be an overflow of what God is stirring in me and what He says about me.
This year, I’m learning to step into that place of grace more and more, and in turn, I’m seeing my capacity stretch, my skillset widen and my discipleship deepen. I’m learning that you can’t compartmentalise discipleship. God made us holistic beings and this year is the next step in my journey of embracing that whole-hearted approach to walking with Jesus and doing the things he did.
Jo - Ministry Experience Scheme Participant
When you meet someone new at a social event, they will often ask “what do you do, then?”
Since taking part in Edmonton’s Ministry Experience Scheme, I have found that question hard to answer. Or at least to answer it concisely and comprehensively.
I work as a pastoral assistant. My regular tasks include: teaching RE and occasionally leading assemblies in a primary school; preaching monthly sermons; supervising a weekly homelessness shelter through the winter months; serving soup at a group for older people; visiting patients in a mental health hospital; leading daily prayer services; making crafts with children at Messy Church; playing football with young people at a monthly youth group; caretaking in the church; managing a website; producing Sunday service sheets; leading Bible discussion groups and informal theology in the pub meetings.
But those things are just the planned, public activities. It is much more profound to talk about the unexpected and unique moments of ministry which are of unrecorded but perhaps unquantifiable significance. Liaising with social services about an elderly and abandoned woman who needs rehousing. Listening to someone who has just found out about a terminal illness in the family. Advocating for a person with schizophrenia because they refuse to speak to anyone other other than the chaplain they trust.
So I have come to think differently about how do answer the question “what do you do, then?” I think it is more appropriate to use the verb “to be” rather than “to do”. I prefer to say, “I am a vicar’s assistant”. If necessary, we can talk about what that tends to entail.
Because being in ministry is precisely that. It is being. It is first and foremost about the person and presence you are, not the things on your to-do list. For it is from a rootedness in a life of prayer, listening, and compassion for others that all missional and evangelistic activity flows. Either intentionally or incidentally.
In Love’s Endeavour, Love’s Expense W H Vanstone argues that the love of God does not follow a set plan or fixed course of action. It is an on-going, creative action of love directed towards the needs of the world. As an artist is absorbed by the tiniest detail in each step of his creation, so God expends his whole being in loving the world in a creative, authentic and utterly committed way. Redemption is therefore not only the revelation of the “divine event” (of the Cross); it is the ever-present “divine being” of God’s love.
I have learned in my time on the Ministry Experience Scheme that to be in ministry is to try to reflect something of God’s “divine being”. In listening; in acts of charity; in preaching the gospel; in celebrating the sacraments. But fundamentally, all these things that one does are an expression of who one is trying to be in and to the glory of God.
Kristian - Ministry Experience Scheme Participant
I started my year with the Blackpool Ministry Experience completely open to what God had in store for me.
I had always believed I would work in development, after multiple trips to developing nations in school. I went on to complete my degree in Geography and International Development Studies and really felt development work was my calling from God. However, during a year with a development charity the direction my life was taking changed.
As part of the year, I spent most of my time with a youth ministry team in Manchester, with a big focus on school chaplaincy. It was here I realised God had other things in store for me, I just didn't know what!
I love youth ministry, but I was worried the only reason I loved it was because it was the only ministry I'd known. So I applied for the Blackpool Ministry Experience in the Diocese of Blackburn, in the hope I would have the time and space to hear God's voice more clearly.
For my Ministry Experience Scheme year I went on placement with Freedom Church, Mereside. It’s a church plant on an estate on the edge of Blackpool.
My placement gave me the opportunity to experience all kinds of ministry, including baptisms, weddings and funerals. I sat in meetings with important people, including someone who is a chaplain to the Queen. I had tea with Bishops, spoke to local councillors, took part in a discipleship course and led an enquirers course. I spent time with the chaplains at the local high school and the local hospital.
It was on the Ministry Experience Scheme in Blackpool that my passion for youth ministry and young people was confirmed. I took over the running of both the Sunday school and youth group. I sought out ways to develop my skills as a leader, taking part in a leadership course and going to national conferences.
God's timing is perfect. Freedom Church Mereside received funding for a Youth Worker to start a few months after I would finish the Blackpool Ministry Experience Scheme. I applied and was successful. I felt God's hand was completely at work.
I knew my time with the young people of the Mereside estate was only just beginning. It is a real blessing and an honour to help them to navigate through life, figuring out where God fits into it.
Lizzie - Ministry Experience Scheme Participant
How do I get involved?
You can express your interest in the Ministry Experience Scheme using the form below. All enquirers are welcome, and you can apply to any diocese offering the scheme no matter where you currently live.
Your data will be sent directly to the diocese you select, and to the Archbishops' Council. Data may be shared between the National Church Institutions and between dioceses. Data will not be shared with other third parties.
Every experience is different
The Ministry Experience Scheme is locally led, so every diocese will have their own distinct flavour. You do not have to apply to your own diocese, so explore what is on offer at what is on offer and find out where your journey takes you.
The Anglo-Catholic Ministry Experience Scheme making a national footprint
Exeter, Newcastle, Blackburn, London and Durham. These are just some of the many destinations for young people who have taken part in the North London Pastoral Assistants programme (NLPA), part of the Ministry Experience Scheme (Edmonton).
The NLPA scheme operates in the Edmonton Area and Fulham Jurisdiction parishes in the Diocese of London. It is incredibly popular with young people considering ordination. Since 2001, 32 alumni have been ordained, and are now serving God as ministers in contexts as varied as St Alban’s Abbey, the Royal Navy, and the London School of Economics.
Due to be ordained this year is Yaroslav Walker, who is among 14 scheme alumni currently training for ordination. A further 9 current and past participants are in the process of discerning their vocation, 4 of which will be attending selection this year.
Commenting on his experience, Yaroslav said:
"The North London Pastoral Assistant scheme was pivotal in my journey towards ordination. As well as being incredibly rewarding and terrific fun, it also provided the perfect environment in which to test God's call.
“I learned more than I could have hoped for - about myself, my vocation, my relationship with God - and grew dramatically in both my prayer life and pastoral understanding.
“I'm not sure I would have gone on to be ordained without being tested in such a scheme, and I gained a tremendous amount of confidence from it. I would heartily recommend it to anyone wanting to better discern Jesus' purpose in their life."
In all, 91% of pastoral assistants on the NLPA Ministry Experience Scheme go on to train for ordination.
The challenge and complexity of the inner-city neighbourhoods of Tottenham, Hornsey, Kentish Town and Camden Town offers a comprehensive immersion into the challenges of inner-city ministry and mission.
Pastoral Assistants attend fortnightly Formation sessions in Theology and Spirituality and are encouraged to go on retreat during the year. This is alongside practical experience like pastoral visiting, leading worship in schools, distributing communion to the sick, assisting with soup kitchens, and much more.
For those considering a vocation to ordained ministry, the rigorous theological formation has proved invaluable for candidates attending selection.
The popularity of NLPA’s Ministry Experience Scheme extends well beyond London. The Revd Canon Anna Matthews, Director of Ordinands for Ely, comments:
“…I have been glad to commend this scheme to a number of candidates for ordination from Ely diocese, all of whom have benefitted enormously from the chance to be immersed in parish ministry, with good support and supervision, opportunities for theological reflection, and rootedness in both prayer and community.
“As a chance for those exploring a vocation to spend a year experiencing the joys, privileges and demands of ministry, it is among the best in the Church of England.”
The Ministry Experience Scheme represents a core part of the Church of England’s efforts to renew ministry by attracting more young people to ordained and licensed lay ministry.
"The Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord."Jeremiah 1: 7-8
The Ministry Experience Scheme is supported by Allchurches Trust.