This means that you are offering to serve full-time, for which you will be paid by the diocese and provided with a home within the parish. Initially you will be a curate for about 3 years which is a time to complete your initial training ‘on the job’. After that, most people go on to be vicars or priests-in-charge of parishes. Every parish offers differing opportunities and challenges according to the kind of place it is. There is huge variety during the course of a ministry. Some people serve in Chaplaincy settings – for example hospitals, schools, prisons, armed forces and whilst a curacy might enable you to explore this to some extent, it is after curacy you can really consider doing this as the sole focus of ministry.
Self-Supporting ministry (SSM) & Ministers in secular employment (MSE)
This means that you are offering to serve without seeking remuneration, or being required to move home. SSMs offer anything between a Sunday and one evening a week through to Sunday and 3 or 4 days a week. It will be important to begin to weigh up what you can offer at an early stage of the exploration. It is unlikely that the parish you are asked to serve is the one you have come from, but it is not usually too far away from home, usually no more than 10 miles. Some people feel that their place of work is more than simply a place where they like to be known as a Christian, but that it is a place in which to focus ordained ministry. MSEs are usually self-supporting ministers, linked to parishes but seeing their workplace as a main arena of ministry.
Some people feel a particular call to pioneer “new forms of church for our changing culture, established primarily for the benefit of people who are not yet members of any church.” These are commonly known as fresh expressions of church. Whilst all ministry is concerned with seeing the church grow, for some people there is a distinct calling to venture into particularly unreached areas or groups of people, plant the gospel and grow a church. See www.freshexpressions.org.uk for more information.
All ordained ministers are initially ordained deacon, and then during their curacy ordained as priests. Some people feel called to remain as deacons, and will have been through selection knowing this already. This is more likely to be a self-supporting ministry, but not always. Ministry as a deacon is a ministry of service within the community, and of assistance to their ordained priest colleague. Sometimes distinctive deacons will say that they see themselves at the doorway of the church more than at the altar or in the pulpit.
“Sharing faith through words and action”, Church Army is about “communicating the unchanging message of an unchanging God to a fast-changing culture”. It is an order of Lay Evangelists, with selection procedures and criteria very similar to those for ordained ministry, and so exploration of a calling to Church Army is handled by the Diocesan Director of Ordinands. Some Church Army evangelists are in diocesan posts, others are employed in parish-paid posts, and others raise their own funding, rather like an overseas mission partner does. Sometimes Church Army Evangelists will say that they see themselves working outside the church to bring people in, rather than working within the church to send people out. See www.churcharmy.org.uk for more information.