Frequently asked questions

FAQs Exploring Ordained Ministry

Methodist Conference 2022 adopted a new candidating process from September 2023

To find out more about the process from 2023 please click here with specific FAQs about the new process answered there. 


  • What qualifications do I need to begin training?

From 2023 - You will be baptised, and a member of a British Methodist church for at least one year in the September in which you candidate. People candidating to either ministry must be available for stationing and able to offer at least 10 years active ministry.

  • How long does it take to train as a Methodist minister – Presbyter or Deacon?

For both orders – 2 years full time, 3 years part time – but these can be extended in certain circumstances, for example to allow further study. Initial training is followed by a period of probation, normally for two years, in a circuit, before ordination

  • How many hours do you have to do for placement?

2023 - Anyone who has church leadership experience may chose not to shadow a minister, but for anyone who wants to have the chance to shadow church leaders in their roles, or undertake some training and reflection, the exploration process is offered.

  • I am licensed to take funerals would be able to continue with this if accepted for training?

If you were training full time then this would not be advised. If you are training part time and this is part of your ongoing employment, then you could continue. The time of training is a time of formation so you have to consider what you need to set aside in order to become a minister. This may be one of those things.

  • I'm currently running youth groups at our church - is it advisable to undergo training as a local preacher before considering the ordination pathway?

We encourage everyone to discern God’s calling at any time , so do explore becoming a local preacher www.methodist.org.uk/for-churches/local-preachers-and-worship-leaders/local-preachers/

From 2023 - Candidates no longer have to be local preachers or worship leaders, but of course they will still have a call to preach or lead worship, therefore it is expected that they will have sought opportunities to do so even if they have not under taken the formal Methodist courses.

See FAQs on candidating and preaching 

  • I have a strong sense that I should be ordained in the Methodist church, I have religious education / theology training, how much training would I have to do?

Training can be tailored according to prior experience; however, being a student minister is about formation as much as it is about training and theological education.

  • What different training pathways are available if accepted as candidate?

The Ministries Committee has approved three learning pathways for ministerial students, all delivered by Queen’s Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education, Birmingham:

  • Full time pathway is college-style, and is usually for two years, although there may be people who are allocated to a three-year pathway for the opportunities that offers them and for the church.
  • Three‐year, part‐time pathway 
  • Three‐year, Circuit‐Based Learning Pathway (CBLP) –you would begin in the full or part time pathway for the first year and then enter CBLP for the remainder of your training.

What kinds of ministries are available to ordained Ministers?

  • How do you decide a pathway? Deacon or Presbyter

This is for many a key part of the discernment journey which incorporates a sense of being as well as what we do.

Being is about who you are – what is your identity and what is God calling you to? Speak to some deacons and presbyters and see how they inhabit their vocation and how they think of it. Accompany them for a while and get a sense of what it means to ‘be’ in that particular sort of ministry.

Then the doing – what is the focus of ministry you feel called to – is it about worship, presiding at sacraments, offering pastoral care for all aspects of a church’s life, supporting the church in the development of its mission and being responsible for congregations. Or is it more about service, developing new work, being a bridge between church and community, more edgy things perhaps. Sometimes it is the sacrament of communion that helps the decision. How essential is presiding at communion to your call? If it is not all that essential, then perhaps you are being called to diaconal ministry. If it is central, perhaps the call is for presbyteral ministry.

Also, consider the religious order element of being a deacon. Do you feel called to enter a religious order with particular disciplines and support?



We really encourage everyone considering candidating to attend the Inhabiting Ordained Diaconal Ministry event 

  • How do you get in to the ‘specialist’ roles? E.g.: Chaplaincy

Some chaplaincy appointments are in the control of the church, such as some Higher Education chaplains, and others are external appointments to which lay and ordained people from any denomination can apply. If a chaplaincy is the former, within the control of the church, then you can apply for that post. For any Minister to take up a role outside of the control of the church there is a process where you are  interviewed by the Stationing Advisory Committee who can grant permission (or not) for you to apply for the role. This sounds complicated but it is all interconnected with the Methodist understanding of the covenant between the church and the ordained.

From 2022 - 

  • Local contexts. A candidate may feel a call to serve in a particular geographical area, or may have personal reasons why they need to serve in that area.
  • Specific contexts (e.g. pioneering, language, cultural, chaplaincy, sector). A candidate may feel a call to serve within a particular community.

For more information on both of these options visit and read C.2

  • Pioneering Ministry – can you candidate to be a Pioneer Minister?

The Methodist Church is committed to growing the numbers of pioneer ministers, this link shows what characteristics we think pioneers require 

Pioneers can be lay or ordained, but there is no think as such as candidating as a pioneer minister.

All presbyteral candidates are trained and formed to take up appointments in circuits.

Some Ministerial appointments have a specific pioneering roles; these people are then invited to join the MPP www.methodist.org.uk/our-work/our-work-in-britain/evangelism-growth/starting-new-places-for-new-people/methodist-pioneering-pathways/ for focused resource and support.

However, for all ministers, there is much freedom in ministry and everyone can develop elements that would be regarded as pioneering. Each person brings to that their own unique gifting, and for some this is a pioneer spirit.

From 2023 - 

  • Specific contexts (e.g. pioneering, language, cultural, chaplaincy, sector). A candidate may feel a call to serve within a particular community.

    Whilst specific contexts cannot be guaranteed at the point at which a student presbyter is ready to be stationed, the content of this form alerts the Connexion to this vocational discernment. It is expected that this discernment will develop through training, and may be confirmed or adapted as a result. The church will do all it can to ensure that at least your probationer appointment is as a pioneer. 

    For more information visit and read C.2
  • Is it possible to be ordained but continue to do your current job as well?

From 2023 - Specific contexts (e.g. pioneering, language, cultural, chaplaincy, sector). A candidate may feel a call to serve within a particular community.

Whilst specific contexts cannot be guaranteed at the point at which a student presbyter is ready to be stationed, the content of this form alerts the Connexion to this vocational discernment. It is expected that this discernment will develop through training, and may be confirmed or adapted as a result. The church will do all it can to ensure that at least your probationer appointment is as a pioneer. 

For more information visit and read C.2

  • Do you have to be a circuit minister if you are ordained?

From 2023 - specific contexts (e.g. pioneering, language, cultural, chaplaincy, sector). A candidate may feel a call to serve within a particular community.

Whilst specific contexts cannot be guaranteed at the point at which a student presbyter is ready to be stationed, the content of this form alerts the Connexion to this vocational discernment. It is expected that this discernment will develop through training, and may be confirmed or adapted as a result. The church will do all it can to ensure that at least your probationer appointment is as a pioneer. 

For more information visit and read C.2

  • Are there only the 2 paths – diaconate/presbyteral. Will this change?

Methodism has two orders of ordained ministry, diaconal and presbyteral, this is unlikely to change. There are also authorised lay ministries, such as Local Preaching, Global Mission Partners and much more www.methodist.org.uk/vocations

  • What areas of Ministry are developing outside the "traditional" roles?

A broad range of ministries, lay and ordained exist within Methodism www.methodist.org.uk/vocations . Here is a link to the Changing Patterns of Ministry.

  • How much can you do with other Churches e.g.: CofE ? Ecumenism Efforts etc

This varies between appointments and what is happening locally but in most places there are ecumenical colleagues who can be a great source of support and colleagueship. Sometimes these relationships will be formal, particularly if you are appointed to a LEP (Local Ecumenical Partnership). There may be clergy meetings or local 'churches together' groups. 

Distinctions between lay and ordained leadership

  • How would you describe the difference between serving as an ordained ministry and those of us who currently serve in lay leadership?

Ordained ministers are ‘set aside’ to be free to offer leadership, in work, sacrament, service and church order, and part of this role as ordained people is to encourage and bring out the gifts of the laity.

  • Why is it only Ministers who are able to preside over Communion?

It is presbyters who preside at communion. This is about being a representative person and operating within church order. The church grants authorisations for some lay people to preside at communion in certain circumstances, but these are not lifelong and they are only given where congregations would otherwise be deprived of the sacrament or for specific missional reasons. Deed of Union clause 4 : “All Methodist preachers are examined tested and approved before they are authorised to minister in holy things. For the sake of church order and not because of any priestly virtue inherent in the office the presbyters of the Methodist Church are set apart by ordination to the ministry of the word and sacraments”. It is ordination that gives the authority to preside at services of Holy Communion. Please see the answer below regarding the way the word ‘Minister’ is understood.

  • Why is it important to know Diaconal or Presbyteral before starting?

Because they are different and you need to feel called to one or the other. (see outline of the orders of ministry above)

Presbyteral Ministry

  • Where does the word Presbyter come from? What does it mean?

From Greek presbyters meaning ‘elder’ or ‘senior’ as seen in Acts 14:23 . It is a similar sense to ‘priest, although Methodist tradition recognises one Priest in Jesus. In Methodist parlance, with our commitment to the ministry of the whole people of God, it has replaced ‘minister’ because minister has a wider usage incorporating deacons and lay people.

  • Why don’t Presbyters sign up to a rule of life?

Diaconal ministry is about an order of ministry as well as a religious order, which includes a rule of life. Presbyters are not a religious order in the same way.  All ministers are in a covenantal relationship with the Methodist Church, which means mutual care and responsibility. “They are held accountable by the Church in respect of their ministry and Christian discipleship, and are accounted for by the Church in respect of their deployment and the support they require for their ministry.” (CPD SO 700 and 701) This is expressed in a new document called ‘A Ministerial Covenant’ that is currently in discussion in circuits and districts and will be discussed in the Conference 2021.  In additional ‘A Methodist Way of Life’ is offering the benefits of a similar structure to life as a Methodist (whether ordained or lay)

Diaconal ministry

  • I feel very called to diaconal ministry but I know my preaching ministry is an important part of my ministry now. I know some deacons preach more than others. Are there appointments where deacons wouldn't be able to fulfil a "traditional" preaching ministry?

Deacons are part of a circuit ministry team, even when their appointments may be more focused in community, project or chaplaincy work.  They are on the Circuit plan and would be expected to offer their gifts in the leading of worship, preaching and proclamation to the Circuit as much or as little as appropriate.

  • Would I be able to limit where I might move to?

The short answer is “No.”  Deacons are under the discipline of direct stationing by the Warden, not only as probationers but throughout their ministry.  While it is recognised that there may be some very particular pastoral circumstances which may arise and need to be born in mind in stationing, deacons are expected to be fully itinerant and to serve where they are sent.

  • Are deacons able to take baptisms, weddings and funerals?
    Often working within communities a deacon will be asked to preside at a rite of passage; also within their circuit, depending upon their appointment and the circuit’s needs.
  • Can deacons be pioneer ministers?
    All diaconal candidates are trained and formed to take up appointments in circuits. Each person brings to that their own unique gifting, and for some this is a pioneer spirit. Diaconal appointments are as diverse and different as the deacons who are sent to serve within them.  Deacons are matched to an appointment given their gifts and the needs of the appointment, and increasingly circuits are seeking deacons to pioneer new ministries within them.

Deacons are also encouraged to access the MPP https://www.methodist.org.uk/our-work/our-work-in-britain/evangelism-growth/starting-new-places-for-new-people/methodist-pioneering-pathways/ for focused resource and support.




  • What is the retirement age in the Ministry?

There is no retirement age but when you candidate you are asked to declare that you can offer at least 10 years of active service

  • Can you be part time?

You can offer for part time or limit your deployability. This is currently under review.

  • Can gay people be Ministers?

They can be, and they are. Of course, like all churches, the Methodist Church has its differences of view on questions of human sexuality, but Conference has long declared and affirmed its welcome to LGBTQ+ people, and celebrated their presence, ministry and leadership within our life at every level. Conference has also resolved that both lay people and ministers may enter a civil partnership or a marriage with someone of the same gender.

  • How does a Methodist member from another country who transferred their membership to British Methodist recently candidate?

From 2023 - You will be baptised, and a member of a British Methodist church for at least one year in the September when you candidate.

  • Is there a cut off age for candidating

You and the church have to be confident that you are able to offer 10 years of service from entering probation.

  • I have a health condition; does this prevent me from training as minister or being a minister?

We welcome candidates for both orders of ministry and having a health concern /impairment is not a bar in itself to candidating or being active in ordained ministry. 

Your health needs, be they physical or mental, and your ability to be resilient, as well as what might be required in terms of meeting with requirements of the Disability Act with reference to reasonable adjustment, are part of the candidating process.

When candidating, you will discuss any support needs with your superintendent at the outset.

It is possible to candidate as a presbyter with a specific context named at the outset, for example if you need to access specific support. You can apply under ‘limited deployabilty’ which means you place restrictions on where you can be stationed, for example if you must be near a particular hospital. Deacons are all direct stationed, therefore your needs and the circuit's needs can be known in detail.

If accepted for training, Queen’s Foundation follow guidance for Higher Education in ensuring reasonable adjustments are made to enable all students to flourish.

If training is completed and you enter probation and then are ordained and received into full Connexion, then you have significant control of your own diary.

There are ministers in the Connexion who are in this situation. You might want to speak with a minister in this situation. Your Superintendent can help you to make such a link.

  • Is there help if I don’t feel confident academically?

In the candidating process you will have support from your Accompanist, Superintendent and the Learning Network 

If accepted for training, Queen’s Foundation follow guidance for Higher Education in ensuring reasonable adjustments are made to enable all students to flourish.

Candidating process

Discerning Ordained Vocation (DOV1) May - September 

You will either have already discerned that call through your previous experience or theological studies, and/or you will have engaged with the Vocational Exploration phase.

You will be appointed an accompanist to journey alongside you, or if you engaged with the Exploration phase you will already have an accompanist.

  • Review the journey so far with your accompanist. They will help you to refine your calling and explore the practical elements with you.
  • Retreat – you will attend a 3-day retreat provided by the Methodist Church, which will lead you through your own deep spiritual discernment. This is your time with God to allow you to listen fully to his calling for you without distraction.
  • Reflect with your accompanist on the experience of the retreat. You will then meet with the Ordained Vocations Advisory Group who will listen to your reflections and have a conversation with you. They will advise you of their view whether or not you should proceed to phase 3, but the decision remains yours.

Discerning Ordained Vocation (DOV2)  September to March

This phase is for those people who feel they have a call to ordained ministry in the Methodist Church in Britain. They should have completed DOV 1 and have a clear view about which order of ministry they are called to and whether it is to local or specific contexts or to an itinerant ministry.

  • Journal to portfolio. The first element in candidating is to produce a portfolio. There will be guidance about the content and length of this, but it is your document in which to demonstrate to the discernment committee that you feel called and you feel you are meeting the competencies expected for those offering for ordained ministry. Your journal will be a very helpful resource to you as you produce your portfolio.
  • The outcome letter from the ordained vocation advisory group
  • From various parties such as: circuit leadership team, critical friend, your accompanist, most recent employer
  • Report from placements or church groups with which you have been involved
  • Candidates Selection committee. You will be invited to a 48-hour event with other candidates during which you will make a presentation, you will be given tasks to carry out with other candidates, you will have one to one conversations and you will have interviews with panels of people. The whole event is surrounded by worship and prayer.
  • Outcome – The candidates’ selection committee will write to you to tell you if you have been recommended to begin training for ordination. If this is not the outcome, it does not mean that God is not calling you, it is just that the church does not think your calling is to ordination. You will be given help to discern your next steps.

What does the Candidating process involve? Will I need to take time off work?Yes you are likely need to take some time off work depending on your work pattern. There is a weekend (Friday evening - Sunday afternoon) retreat in May, and an online panel in DOV1. In DOV 2 there is a weekend (Friday evening to Sunday afternoon) committee  in January.

For full detail on the process visit 


Can you please talk through the experience of psychological testing?

This is now called a ‘resilience assessment’ and is usually an interview by zoom with a psychologist who will ask you questions about your life and background and also how you are thinking about the future. It is a chance to explore things with an expert. You can ask for this to be face to face if you prefer.

How often are the Connexional Candidates Committee wrong in their decision?

Hard to know. Human beings make mistakes but we try very hard to limit these by having well trained and diverse panels of people doing the discerning, discerning through a wide range of mechanisms to see different aspects, matching against criteria to ensure parity while also listening hard for God’s calling through prayer and conversation. If someone is not recommended, they can appeal, also they are able to offer again 2 years later. In addition there is support offered to those who are not recommended to start initial ministerial training.

The process is quite intensive and one has to satisfy in the end a panel - how can one be supported if say you are weak in 1 or 2 areas but the potential is there.

In the candidating process, you will have support from your mentor, Superintendent and the Learning Network to help you evidence your calling against the criteria.


  • As a probationer presbyter do you have any say in where you are stationed or are you just sent? 

Before you are stationed, you will be known well by your tutors and you will complete a stationing profile that you will discuss in detail with your tutor. The tutor will represent your needs, wishes and interests in the stationing matching meeting. All factors you wish to be considered will be taken into account as far as possible but the important thing is that the appointment is the right match for your gifts and graces. There is always an awareness that you are unlikely to flourish if the appointment makes things difficult for your family. The first appointment is direct stationing so both you and the circuit are expected to accept the appointment, but the stationing happens after considerable care and discernment. In forthcoming years it will be possible to offer for ministry in specific local contexts.

Stipends, funding, and housing

  • How does tax on a stipend work?

PAYE each month on the stipend. There are other things you need to declare for  tax (e.g. wedding or funeral fees) and other things you can claim against tax (e.g. books, clerical dress, use of the manse for meetings) so you need to keep good records with receipts.

  • If there is a gap between stationing, does the stipend stop?

It depends why there is a gap. If you choose to go without appointment then yes the stipend and manse stop.

  • What happens when you retire? Do you still get a house etc?

The Methodist Ministers’ Housing Society support by providing housing at reduced rent for eligible ministers. This depends on means testing and on length of service, but is generally in the 10-year range. More details can be found  mmhs.org.uk/about-us/


  • Is it possible to leave ministry? E.g. if you feel God has used you in your capacity and need to move to something else?

Ordination is for life and the church makes a commitment to you for life. So it is not expected that you would ever chose to leave unless something has gone wrong. If you feel you have done all you can in one appointment, you can leave and move to another – either at the end of the term of the appointment or by curtailing (ending the appointment sooner than initially planned). It might be that you feel called to work in a different environment than circuit ministry e.g. chaplaincy of all sorts, theological education and other roles

Resources to help your discernment

Reception in to full connexion and ordination

  • What happens if you get through the ordination process and feel it is no longer for you?

The church discerns with you not only at candidating but also all through training and the 2 or more years of probation to ensure that you are really called and able and ready to be received into full connexion and ordained. It is hoped that the length of that process will give you time to decide if it is not for you and you can choose to withdraw at any point, though that is a very serious process if you are a probationer. However, we hope that no one wishes to withdraw after ordination because by then the church and minister have made lifelong commitments. You can resign from being in full connexion but you cannot be ‘un-ordained’. It isn’t just that someone has made a lifelong commitment but that ordination is to “a permanent lifelong office of ministry” (Methodist Worship Book, p.297).  Someone ordained to the presbyterate or diaconate in the Methodist Church is ordained to the presbyterate or diaconate in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.  Whilst someone can resign (or be removed) from being in Full Connexion with the Methodist Conference, they can’t not be ordained.


Personal life


  • What if your spouse is also an ordained minister?

People are considered individually though family situation is obviously part of a candidate’s identity and therefore could come into the conversations. When it comes to stationing, the probationer’s stationing takes priority. Once both are ordained and in stationing, the couple have to decide which takes priority in stationing. This does not mean one is more important, but it is a decision that you need to make to enable the matching process.

  • What support and guidance is there for partners particularly those who aren’t Christians or indeed any faith?

It is important that the partner is aware from the outset of what a candidate is offering for – and particularly is supportive of the idea of itinerancy, vocation and discipline to the Conference. Candidates are well advised to help their partners perhaps by inviting other ministers’ partners to meet them and talk things through. District Candidates Secretary might be able to help from previous experience.

For these FAQs on personal experience we have asked a few Ministers from around the Connexion to share their personal experiences.

  • How does the Church or Minister deal with people management given the diverse issues people find?


Remember that most people in the church are giving of their time.

Use the body of Christ and gifts and graces of congregation.

Establish and agree an acceptable standard of behaviour that reflects who we are as disciples of Christ.

Do not be afraid to signpost for help when people present with an issue you have not come across before.


  • How do you look after your wellbeing?

“I look after my wellbeing in four ways.

  1. Maintaining a regular prayer life as much as I can. 
  2. Making sure I take my days off, holidays and quarter days - pitting them all in my diary at least 15 months ahead and only moving them if there is somewhere to move them to. 
  3. Managing my diary and ToDo list well, making sure I have space for preparation, looking 5 to 6 weeks ahead to see what needs to be done. Most of all being willing to say no if saying yes will lead to doing too much. It works most of the time but I have to work hard at it. 
  4. Making the best use of supervision and spiritual direction.  

There is always more to do, so do stop. 

There is provision of a counselling service for ministers which is free, I used it once and found it very helpful. 

  • Do you work long hours?

“Sometimes yes! But essentially, you’re in control of your own diary, so you can block time as necessary.”

“I try to remember to let God be God and remind oneself that we can only do so much and it does  not depend on us.” 

“Sometimes! Not all the time and I’m not sure when I do I work any longer hours than my peers who are teachers, accountants, consultants, health care workers. 

I regularly work in the evening but I regularly get to have lunch with my wife during the day or go for a walk in an afternoon knowing I’ll be working in an evening, many of those who come to the evening meetings haven’t been able to do that during the day.”

  • What do you do if/when your personal opinion is conflicting/different from views in Circuit?

We’re never called to act against our conscience so it’s important to express your view even if it does contradict others.  The staff meeting should be a place where you can disagree well and respect each other’s contradictory views.  Remember you’re part of a team, that we work together in a way that differing opinions can be expressed but to remember we are a conferring Church. That means coming to a view together and supporting that view even when we all have different opinions.  

As a church, we try to live with contradictory convictions and there are resources to help us and the church with that. 

  • How do you balance your home life with the demands of the Church?

Use the answerphone and auto responses to emails!

Remember the priority should be God, Family, then Church. 

The ordination service says ‘Let no one suffer through your neglect’ also means you and your family.