When I married Rev T, he was going to be an accountant. Eventually he admitted he wanted to
be a vicar. Wanted is the wrong word.
God gave him the career advice.
Rev T took it.
We went through due process. We because all the family is
involved even though only one of them is called to be a vicar: For Baptists, the first part of the process
of deciding a call to ministry is genuine or the product of a cheese dream, is
Talk to your church. If they confirm the call, they help you get
relevant experience before you
Go before the local Ministry Recognition Committee. If they
confirm the call, you go onto
Have an interview at the college where you want to study for
a ministerial qualification. If they
confirm the call you study for a degree for a minimum of three years.
Getting turned down, or told to go away and come back later,
can happen at any stage. The college
told Rev T go away and come back in a bit.
For a bit, we went to work at a church in the middle of one of the most
deprived housing estates in Europe.
After a year, we went back to college.
This time they said yes!
Rev T did the church based degree course over three years. Two days at college, two days at church, plus
Sundays, study day and a day off.
In the final year, you go into Settlement. Aka, finding suitable church based
employment. This is the route to
Settlement. Find a
church willing to call you to be their minister.
If a church calls you to be their minister, then you are
ordained. Baptists only ordain if the
call to ministry is confirmed by a local church.
Commissioning service at the church that’s called you to
Get on with it!
Ministerial posts are scarce. Previously, there were several
full time vacancies per student. When Rev
T was looking, there was one per student. I don’t know if that ratio included
suitable full time posts or took into account students going to do missionary
work aboard or already had a church to go to.
Students were encouraged to consider part time or unpaid posts too.
For qualified ministers looking to move from one church to
another, the ratio is believed to be three people per vacancy.
The Settlement process is like a dating agency. Rev T
wrote a profile outlining his church background, experience etc that included a
reference from the college Principle. He
stated any particular preferences. The
more preferences, the harder it is to find a match. Ours was within commutable distance of Mrs
The churches also wrote a profile with a description of
themselves that includes details of what they want in a minister.
The Settlement Committee meets once a month. They pray though the list and pass suitable
profiles onto a church with a vacancy.
They do not put the names into two hats, pray over them, do a FIFA style
draw and then go to the pub.
If the church wants to take it further, the leadership ask
you to come for interview. If the
interview goes well, you’re invited to come to Preach with a Squint. To lead a service. This allows everyone
to have a look at each other without actually committing to anything
The church then decides if they want you back or not. If they do, you’re asked to come and Preach
With A View. This is the biggie. Same again, followed by a
Q&A with the whole church. Like a panel interview, with a really big
At the next church meeting, they’ll decide whether or not
they want to invite you to be their minister.
If they do, and the minister to be is happy to accept, then it’s all
If they don’t want you to be their minister, then both
parties start the whole process again.
The church isn’t allowed to invite you back if they decide later they’ve
made a mistake.
Mr T’s name was put forward for roles at churches of all
sizes. He had a few interviews that
didn't come to anything and then it got serious ... Names of the churches
withheld for obvious reasons.
Church A was a small to medium sized,
multicultural church in the inner city. Bonus points from the Principal!. They were offering a part time post with a
housing allowance. There wasn’t a
manse. Rev Preached with A View, but they didn’t feel he was right for
them. We were gutted at the time. It worked out for the best. They found a minister with a house elsewhere
who's happy to commute. We found something
Church B was
a moderately sized church in a lovely part of the world. The congregation
were really friendly, welcoming and keen. I would have been the only
person under Forty-mumble and the Tubblet the only child. They loved
their hymns and traditional worship. Rev T loves these things too. In moderation. He prefers more modern songs and has been
known to wave his arms in the air. Rev T went to preach with a squint. We knew, sadly, it wasn’t the right place for
us. Rev T would have been rocking under the pulpit, clutching a bottle of
Jack Daniels three months in. At the time of writing, they were still
looking. We hope they find someone who
loves them and respects their spiritual identity.
Church C is a small church in a Very Big
village. All age and multicultural. Rev T had preached there a few times as it is
fairly near to where we were. Whilst he
was looking, he went there to lead a service.
I suggested that as they were looking for a minister and he was looking
for a church, it was worth having a conversation. It’s worth asking the question even if you
don’t get the answer you want. The
church agreed with me. Rev T went
straight to the preach with a view. A
week later, the church meeting called Mr T unanimously. Unanimous is
unusual and most Ministers have a threshold in their heads of what percentage
they'd accept. It's usually 80 to 90 plus, depending on the size of the
When Rev T / God decides it’s time to move on, we got
through the settlement process again.
Without the ordination bit.
We're now three years in and Rev is completing his probationary
period. Next year he'll be
welcomed as a fully accredited minister with a handshake at Baptist
Church is still small, but growing slowly in numbers and
spirit. We give thanks for Home Mission for help with funding, trust God
and hope for the best.