Frequently Asked Questions - Ordination Training
Yes – if you are working there already, it is often possible to stay based in your present church while doing your training. If you are already working there full-time, you will have to go half-time to make time for the academic part of the course, but we have many students who are able to continue their work in their local church while training for ministry.
Yes we probably can. We have a number of churches in london and sometimes beyond, both large and small, who are looking for ordinands to be placed with them. These include Holy Trinity Brompton, giving the chance to work half time on the staff of one of the most vibrant and dynamic churches in the uk while doing your theological training. It also includes a range of other churches of different types and sizes. Please contact us for details of churches you might be placed with.
No. Both ‘regular’ ordinands and opm candidates train with us. We have a focus in the practical part of our training on church planting – either for those who want to learn how to plant a church, or to help students prepare to lead churches that are growing enough to be able to plant. As peter wagner says, ‘church planting is the quickest method of evangelism under heaven’. However, we take ordinands training for ‘normal’ ministry and pioneers.
We don’t think so. Our staff team is a mix of high class academic teachers, including people such as our core staff and our visiting professors, alister mcgrath and keith ward who regularly teach with us, and practitioners – those with seasoned experience of church leadership and church planting, such as, nicky gumbel, pioneer of the alpha course, bishop graham cray, who heads up fresh expressions, and pete greig, director of 24/7 prayer. We often find the academic teaching comes alive for students because they are actually involved with ministry at the same time, and therefore able to apply it more immediately. Those who want to focus on the academic side can do so, choosing a ‘tutorial route’, where they are offered oxbridge-style tutorials with core staff throughout the course.
It depends how you want to focus your time. The minimum is two days a week on each. So, some students who want to focus on the academic side can spend up to four days a week studying. Others can focus more on the ministry side, spending three or four days a week on practical ministry, and just two days a week for study.
You can train through a unique combination of an ma in theology and ministry with King’s College London, and practical ministry training at sptc, while still being rooted in a local church.
SPTC is based in Holy Trinity Brompton. That means some students can be based on the staff there while they are doing their training. Others however have the opportunity to observe and study this vibrant church that has planted 20 churches over the past 20 years and also just grown a new congregation for 20-somethings from zero to 1000 in 2 years. It offers a unique opportunity to study a real live growing church at close quarters. Not everyone will run a church like HTB, but there are lessons to be learnt for all churches there.
All course fees are paid by central church funds. Your living allowance comes partly from a part-time salary paid by the church you are working in, topped up to what you need from grants from central funds and your local diocese.
Ordinands normally come into sptc for one day’s study a week over three terms of the year. They also join with the students at NTMTC (the other part of St Mellitus college) for seven residential weekends and a residential week each year. Students would normally put aside at least one other day for private study. The rest of the time, they work on the staff of a church, fresh expression of church, or some other mission context. Further details on the course can be found here.
There are three routes; the full time established theological college training (e.g. Ridley, Trinity, Wycliffe). There is also the part time course route where you train just on evenings and some residential weekends alongside doing a full time secular job.
There is now a third route available for training through St. Mellitus College, a new theological traning institution in the Diocese of London and Chelmsford. St. Paul’s Theological Centre is part of St. Mellitus and we offer full time non residential ordination training. You will spend half of your time doing academic studying up to high level and you will spend the other half of your time in a Church or expression of Church or Church plant or Pioneering setting for the duration of your training. This has the strengths of balancing theological study with the practice of Ministry throughout the period of your training and in many cases allows people to stay in the settings that they are currently in.
Discussing these options needs to be pursued with your DDO as part of the selection process and we also encourage you to come and visit us on one of our open days held at St. Paul’s Theological Centre which is where the full time non residential training is based in London.
Generally speaking, before beginning down the road to becoming ordained in the Church of England you should have experience of being part of an Anglican Church. This would include attending and being involved in the church.
The first step to take when considering ordination is to speak to your Vicar/Parish Priest. This will determine whether you will be deemed appropriate for the journey of training and eventual position in Ministry. If your Vicar/Priest is keen to support your application, he will send you to your DDO (Diocesan Director of Ordinands). Your DDO is the person in the Diocese who is responsible for overseeing the process of applications for ordination training.
Subsequent to this, and should your application be approved, you would usually then meet with the Bishop. Following this approval you would be put forward for a national selection conference, this is usually a two day process of interviews, presentations and exercises that will lead to either you being approved for training within the Church of England or not.
One of St Paul’s Theological Centre’s core values is the desire to ‘bring theology back into the heart of the Church. Our conviction is that to train people for leadership within local churches, it make sense to do that while they are actually working in local churches. It is best to train for Christian ministry by being involved in Christian ministry.
Therefore, all of SPTC’s routes to ordination, as part of St Mellitus College, are ‘Church based’, in other words, offering a combination of academic study alongside significant practical experience in local church or mission context. Students on these courses are ‘full-time, non-residential students’, which means that we consider them to be engaged in full-time preparation for ordained ministry, but with half of their training happening ‘on the job’. Our aim is to provide academic training that is just as high quality as could be found in the best residential colleges or universities, alongside practical experience of growing churches or fresh expressions of church under experienced leadership. A vital part of the course is regular sessions of ‘theological reflection’ where in groups, students share issues they are facing in their practical ministry, and learn to analyse and address them with the help of the theology they are learning.
There are three main components of a student’s time on the full time Church based training:
- Practical experience of ministry in a local church, fresh expression or Christian ministry for at least two days a week
- One day a week of teaching at SPTC (usually Mondays) and a day a week for private study
- Seven residential weekends and one residential week per year, along with other St Mellitus ordinands. So for example, a student might be employed in a local church for 3 days a week, have two days free for study (one in SPTC weekly, one for private study) and one or two days off per week, and in addition be available for residential weeks and weekends.
Another possible combination for those who do not require a salary from a church would be volunteer work in a Fresh Expression, or Christian ministry of some kind for two days a week, with the rest of the week free for extended study.
A third combination for those whose church cannot afford to pay them for the work they do, might be two days a week volunteer work in the church, two days a week put aside for study and two days a week in paid secular employment to help cover living costs. This would then still leave one day off a week.
These courses are designed around those who envisage being involved at some stage in church planting, establishing new forms of church life, or those training for more traditional forms of church, but who are looking for a missional ‘edge’ to their training. It is particularly appropriate for Pioneer Ministers, as they often require ministry focused training that has a focus on Fresh Expressions or church planting.
The courses are:
- BA in Contextual Theology (Middlesex University)
- Diploma in Higher Education in Contextual Theology (Middlesex University)
- MA (King’s College London) with Ordination training at SPTC
All ordinands follow the ‘Leadership and Church planting training’ Monday afternoon sessions which cover the key elements of ordained ministry and leadership in the church, with a particular focus on church planting and new forms of church life.
Every student has a Personal Tutor at SPTC, and a Supervisor is appointed within the Primary Placement, to oversee the practical ministry part of the training.
To download the brochure please visit
Hear what past guests have to say about their experience on the SPTC theological courses.
Never has been it more urgent for Christians to give a reason for the faith that is within them. In the midst of the conflict between literalism in religion and the disintegrating world view, the appeal of mature biblical faith is very clearThe Rt Revd Richard Chartres
Bishop of London
Patron of SPTC
In my view this is the most interesting and important thing that is happening in British theological education