If you’re considering a life in ordained ministry,
you’re bound to have loads of questions. We’ve tried
to answer some of them here, but please
if you have a question we haven’t answered.
WILL PEOPLE THINK I’M STRANGE IF I GO FOR
Probably. Make the most of it, for the sake of
the good news of Jesus! Being a priest is both a
well-known and generally respected profession, but
also deeply counter-cultural, as the values of the
Kingdom of God are often very different from worldly
HOW OLD DO I HAVE TO BE TO BE ORDAINED?
The minimum age to be sponsored for a Bishops’
Advisory Panel is 18, but many people are younger
when they start to talk to their vicar or vocations
adviser. Normally you would be 23 by the time you
CAN WOMEN BE PRIESTS
Yes—women have been able to be ordained as
deacons in the Church of England since 1987, and as
priests since 1994.
CAN PRIESTS GET MARRIED?
In the Church of England, yes—either before or
DOES IT MATTER HOW LONG I’VE BEEN A CHRISTIAN?
Not necessarily, although it’s sensible to have
some serious experience of being part of a
worshipping Christian community before aspiring to
IS ORDINATION FOR LIFE?
Ordination lasts your whole life, yes. There are
lots of different ways of exercising ordained
ministry. Some people work part-time as an unpaid
priest whilst holding down a ‘day job’. Also,
ordained ministers do not usually remain in one
particular appointment for the whole of their
ministry. You can be a parish priest in different
parishes, or become chaplain to a variety of
organisations or groups of people.
ISN’T BEING A PRIEST BORING?
That’s the last thing you need to worry about! In
fact, you’d find the variety mind-bending. Of
course, there are bits of every job which are
tedious, but the mixture of people, intellectual
challenges and emotional engagements make it much
more likely that you will have to deal with overload
WHAT DOES A PARISH PRIEST DO ALL DAY?
The day usually starts with morning prayer in the
church; after that, every day is different! You’ll
spend time in prayer and reading the Bible.
Sometimes there’ll be services to take or to prepare
for; holy communion, or a baptism, wedding or
funeral. There will be sick people to visit, either
at home or in hospital, and distressed people who
need to talk matters through with you. As a parish
priest you will take an active part in what goes on
in your local community; schools welcome visits, for
example, and might ask you to speak to students, or
to take assemblies. There are lots of meetings, too,
sharing with others the organising of the life and
outreach of your church and supporting the lay
people who serve in a variety of ways. A lot of this
will happen in the evenings, so you need to make
sure you have some time off during the day.
DO MY SCHOOL OR UNIVERSITY GRADES MATTER?
Yes. The job is intellectually demanding, and the
academic side of your calling is just as important
as any other. In principle, ordained ministry is a
graduate profession. The demands are high, and the
highest possible levels of mental, emotional and
physical stamina are desirable. If the Church agrees
with your sense of call to ordained ministry, it
will help to provide the resources you need in order
to fulfil that call.
WILL I GET TRAINING TO BE A PRIEST?
Yes. If you’re sponsored by your bishop for
training, the Church of England will pay for your
training. You can train residentially in a college,
or non-residentially on a course. After ordination,
you will work as a curate with a more experienced
priest, perhaps in a team with several priests, as
well as continuing training alongside others who
were ordained at the same time as you. You will also
be encouraged to continue to attend training events
and courses throughout your ministry, and funding is
available for this. Find out more about
CAN I CHOOSE WHERE I WORK?
Pretty much. But it will come down to where you
conclude, in collaboration and consultation with
your bishop (and his representatives, the parish and
thus—in a representative way—the Church as a whole!)
where the best place would be for you to work.
CAN I CHANGE DIOCESE?
Once ordained in a particular diocese you are not
obliged to stay there for the rest of your working
WILL I GET PAID?
Yes, if you’re in a job which is on the payroll.
However, some jobs are non-stipendiary (unpaid),
although you won’t be placed in one of those unless
you are fully in agreement. Also, some people are
ordained but then remain in their secular job, so
they aren’t paid by the Church. When they retire
from their secular work, they may choose to give
much of their time as priests in a local
WHERE DOES A VICAR LIVE?
In a vicarage or rectory—a house in the parish
where he or she ministers, which is provided by the
Church free of rent and council tax.
WHY BE A PRIEST WHEN SO FEW PEOPLE GO TO CHURCH NOWADAYS?
Although 70% of people in the UK still claim to
be Christian, that’s the way society is
moving for the moment. You can be a missionary and
an evangelist as well as a priest! Like Jesus,
priests often spend a lot of their time with people
who don’t go to church, trying to bring the love of
God into their lives and reflecting the values of
SHOULD I TALK ABOUT IT WITH MY FAMILY AND
Yes, if you feel they will listen. If they’re
interested in what you’re doing, they’ll be keen to
know all about it; and if you want their support—or
even just their understanding—you’ll need to keep
them in the picture. You’ll probably be surprised by
how much support and encouragement you get from
I’VE BEEN BAPTISED, BUT NOT CONFIRMED—DOES IT
Baptism and confirmation together make up the
Church of England's process of Christian initiation, so it will be normal for any candidate
to be confirmed, or welcomed into the Church of
England from another Church, before she or he is
SHOULD I BE GOING TO CHURCH EVERY WEEK?
Ideally, yes. If you’re ordained, you’re likely
to be perceived by some people (not necessarily
correctly) as the walking embodiment of the
Church—so it's not a bad idea to get used to
spending a lot of time there. You also need to
involve yourself deeply in the life of the world
apart from the Church, for there you will also
discover God at work.
WHERE CAN I FIND A GOOD CHURCH TO GO TO?
That depends on what you mean by 'good'! A parish
system works best, on the whole, when people attend
their own local church. In that way the whole
community gets to form a church which mirrors its
life and diversity—and thus presents the gospel in a
joined-up way to all the people who either live
there or pass through. But there can be all sorts of
good reasons why you might prefer to go to a church
which is not your parish church.