Mental Health and Wellbeing for ministers

The Churches Ministerial Counselling Service is service open to student ministers, ministers, their spouses and young adults over 18 who live with the minister. It is a confidential service with a counsellor to discuss issues that are of concern. It is short term service of up to 12 sessions but if longer term issues are identified, then there is scope for more to be applied for through a private arrangement outside CMCS . Ministers can contribute to the cost of sessions if they wish.  

 For further information about the service go directly to  www.cmincs.net

Wellbeing team

Linda Robotham robothaml@methodistchurch.org.uk and Josephine Lawrence lawrencej@methodistchurch.org.uk are the point of contact for ministers seeking support and they can advise on support available, access to funds etc

Supporting you own wellbeing

Some resources to support mental health and wellbeing April 2020 (Pdf)

Two wellbeing articles that might be helpful

Ever feel disconnected from your true self? 

Decision making  

Wellbeing Research and the response of the Ministries Committee

There is no doubt that ministry is not, and has never been easy.  The pressures of ministry can creep up on any of us, even for those of us who are flourishing. 

As I hope you are aware the wellbeing of ministers has been high on the church’s agenda for the past couple of years.  Following a listening day in 2018 at Methodist Church House, the Ministries Committee commissioned a full-scale piece of research to see what was enabling ministers to flourish, and crucially, what was negatively affecting ministers’ wellbeing.  The research led to over 30 recommendations being presented to the Ministries Committee.  

The committee acknowledged that systemic changes were needed. I have set out below a little more of what the Connexional Team has been asked to do to enable ministerial flourishing.  Some of the recommendations will potentially lead to changes in our candidating and stationing processes. 

I have divided the recommendations into ministers, superintendents and Chairs of District.  You are encouraged to discuss these recommendations in staff meetings, circuit leadership teams and district meetings.  I was particularly tasked with sharing with you some of the recommendations that only we as individuals can make happen.  The committee in no way wants to suggest that ministerial flourishing is only up to individuals.  However, some things can only be done by change in our local contexts.  

Recommendations to all ministers


Over the years the Connexional Team has been tasked with providing support at different points in ministry.  These include First Moves in Ministry, Re-charge (the mid-ministry retreat), and the 25-30 years ministry reflection space. See Reflection and Conversation spaces for Ministers (methodist.org.uk). The Pre-retirement course Retirement (methodist.org.uk) is open to anyone due to retire in the next 7 years.  

Further support is offered at the Superintendents’ induction,  and the Superintendents’ Conference See Superintendents (methodist.org.uk).

Ministers are encouraged to take up these opportunities designed to enable ministerial flourishing.  Over the next year we will form a number of online communities of practice/support groups to enable ministers facing similar challenges (e.g. single ministers) these will gather online and will be known as the Voices of Identity.   


Ministers are reminded that we are given a stipend in order that we might model a way of being. We are not “paid” to do a job, or worse still to keep the show on the road.  As ministers we are called by God to be a representative person, leading the people of God in mission and ministry. Therefore, you are invited to adopt a Methodist Way of Life as part of your discipleship, through an accountability group, or maybe as part of the staff meeting. 

Holidays and rest time

The ministries committee spent a long time discussing the recommendations in CPD Book Vii Part 3 relating to holidays and rest time.  We do not speak of days off from ministry, because ministry is a way of life.  However, CPD states ministers should have a minimum of 24 hours rest in each seven-day period.  The research revealed that many ministers felt their wellbeing was impaired by not having 48 hours rest in a 7day period.  The committee reminds all ministers that the stationing committee works on the assumption that all full-time appointments involve 12 sessions a week (a session being a morning, afternoon or evening).  This might equate to 6 days of 2 sessions a week or fewer days if the 3 sessions are deemed to have been used in the work of ministry.  The committee encourages a dialogue between ministers and circuits to use the flexibility built into the system to enable the flourishing of the Church and those serving it. 

Encouraging ministers to work 12 sessions a week may feel like increasing the pressure on the ‘to do’ list, particularly if we perceive the demands outweigh the time available to us.   As a minister saying no is never easy, nor is it easy to hear as a member of the church.  However, every minster and church member when agreeing to do something new is asked to consider what they might lay down to allow time for the new work to flourish. 

Take it to Supervision

If you think your ministerial flourishing and wellbeing is being diminished by the systems of the institution you are invited to take these to supervision.  You may then ask your supervisor to refer any particular concerns on to the Supervision Reference Group (supervision@methodistchurch.org.uk).  These will then be addressed by the group, which reports to the Ministries Committee.

You might also feel that you need to take some issues out of supervision and seek further support. You are reminded that the Ministerial Counselling service is available to all ministers and the committee commends the service, which you can apply directly to.  www.cmincs.net

You are encouraged to have a conversation with a minister in oversight about your “work/life” balance, at least annually.  This is included in the new MDR guidance.  Additionally, you are encouraged to develop a support plan with a colleague or friend.  This should identify who you will talk to when times are difficult and a plan of action that you might follow.  The ministries committee recommend you share this with your minister in oversight.  The template for this can be found in the Ministers’ Handbook.

When your appointment ends, you should be offered a moving on conversation with the CLT (or you can ask for it).  Here issues encountered in the station might be clearly articulated.  Guidelines can be found here Planning for good endings (methodist.org.uk)

Recommendations to Superintendents

Superintendents are asked to use and embed a Methodist way of Life into staff meetings including regularly asking colleagues “how is your wellbeing/how are you flourishing?”. 

The ministries committee recognises that ministers can take on a whole range of things that prevent their ministry flourishing.  You are asked to consider how you might enable ministers to make good decisions about the use of their time.  Circuits are encouraged to consider employing lay people to appropriate roles that might free ministers to minister and engage in mission. 

Recommendations for Chairs of Districts

You are asked to emphasise at Welcome Services and other district events that ministry is a way of life not a job!

Within the research, the power of testimony was once again emphasised as a way of inspiring other ordained colleagues.  You are encouraged to include ordained testimony in both ministerial and representative sessions of synod. 

The research highlighted differing opinions as to how much support should be offered to a minister’s partner, it was noted that every relationship is different with some ministers expecting support of their partner and others finding this intrusive. You are encouraged to explore the most appropriate way forward with ministers in your district.  The ministries committee expresses thanks to district chairs as you navigate your way around this complex area. 

Ministries: Vocation and Worship team was charged with:

A section on support, accountability and wellbeing pages 41-44

The Ministerial Covenant

Ministerial wellbeing: emails and communication. The stress of the email inbox is often cited by ministers who approach the wellbeing team so it is helped that the recommendations about communication help those ministers.  These can be found in the ministers’ handbook, appendix 5

A support plan: an invitation for you to set aside some time to put in place what you think you will need when times get really tough. Appendix 2

Capacity questions: an invitation to think through your capacity to take on a new piece of work, activity or responsibility. Appendix 3

Use of a Methodist Way of Life: staying grounded in God. Appendix 1

  • Developing the Continuing Development in Ministry pages on the website so that all ministers might know what development possibilities are available. This links to the various Learning Network events some of which are also good CDiM.
  • Drawing together the available resources to help circuits build good leadership teams. This is ongoing
  • Drafting materials to be made available to members of the Methodist Church to explain the Ministerial Covenant in everyday language. These will be published in 2023-2024
  • Asking the Faith and Order Committee to draft a theological definition of ministerial wellbeing and flourishing.
  • Posting, on the website stories of creative lay employment.

We are committed to doing all we can to reduce pressures on ministerial wellbeing and encourage flourishing in mission and ministry. 

Therefore other support is now also part of the team's workplan including various Reflection spaces for ministers at specific times in ministry. Ongoing support of lay leaders. Joint support from MVW, E&G and others as you merge churches.

Paul Wood

Director of the Ministries Team

July 2023

Corin Pilling's keynote from the Superintendents' Conference in Blackpool 2023