Ordained Ministry

Welcome to the Shared Discernment Process for Ordained Ministry

You are here either because you feel that God may be calling you to ordained ministry or you are exploring the process of discernment in the Diocese of Lichfield for someone else; either way you are most welcome.

What is Discernment?

Discernment is ‘the ability to show good judgement about the quality of somebody/something’. Discernment is the responsibility of every Christian; it enables us to make wise and informed decisions. Throughout scriptures, the people of God prayed for the spirit of discernment so that they could comprehend the magnitude of God’s love and action and be encouraged to follow him. It is important to know that discernment is a journey and not a destination. The Diocese of Lichfield recognizes the importance of discernment therefore, the process seeks to be spirit led, accessible, clear, supportive, challenging, and accountable.

Process of Discernment in the Diocese of Lichfield

  • Candidates expressing a desire to explore ordained ministry would normally be allocated to a Vocations Adviser (VA). We have a large team of both lay and ordained Vocations Advisers across the diocese who carry out a phenomenal task of journeying with candidates at initial stages of discernment.
  • After appropriate exploration has taken place, the VA will handover the candidate to the relevant member of the Vocations and Training Team.
  • If the VA discerns that the candidate may have a vocation to ordained ministry, the candidate will be passed on to the Bishops’ Director of Ordinands (BDO) for further discernment.
  • The candidate will have an initial meeting with the BDO and may be allocated to an Assistant Diocesan Director of Ordinands (ADDO).
  • It is normal for candidates to spend 10 – 18 months with the BDO/ADDO so that further discernment can take place. The discernment process with the BDO/ADDO involves reading, written tasks, placements, one-to-one meetings, groups study, and much more.
  • If approved by the Sponsoring Bishop, candidates will proceed to the next level of the National Discernment. For more information, refer to the flowchart.

Why is it called a Shared Discernment Process?

The discernment process is “shared” between the Diocese and the National Discernment Team, thus making the decision-making process more relational.

Main features of the Shared Discernment Process

  • Being attentive to the changing needs of the Church and society, the Shared Discernment Process seeks to be both accessible and rigorous.
  • The foundational qualities of personality, character and relationships remain central to the process whilst focussing on how one’s vocation is rooted in their discipleship and expressed in how they engage with the Church and the world.
  • The Shared Discernment Process is a staged approach which is more formational, accessible, affirming, and developmental.
  • The previous Selection Criteria are now replaced with Qualities for Discernment for both Ordained Priesthood and Distinctive Diaconate.
  • Within these Qualities for discernment (Grids) there is scope to explore Incumbent Level Ministry, Self-Supporting Ministry and Pioneer Ministry.
  • You can view the Qualities for Discernment on the Church of England website
  • Flowchart of the Discernment Process in the Diocese of Lichfield.
  • Bishop’s Guidelines on Age Limits for Ordained Ministry can be found here
  • Church of England – Vocations learn more

What to do next?

If you are interested in exploring ordained ministry, please contact Cath Hughes, Vocations and Training Coordinator to be allocated to a Vocations Adviser.

Page last updated: Thursday 9th November 2023 1:20 PM
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