God calls each of us to serve him according to the unique gifts we have been given. This ministry of service can take many different forms; the purpose of these pages is to help you to discern how God is calling you to live out your particular vocation. As you scroll down this page, you will find examples of different types of calling, while the red menu bar above give advice on next steps and how the Diocesan team can help.
Ministry of service
For most Christians, their calling will take the form of living out their faith within their communities and service in their local church, sharing in its mission, tasks and activities. To find out about how you might become more involved in the work and mission of your church, speak to your vicar or chaplain. Some examples of what you might do can be found by clicking 'Ministry of service', below.
Ministry of service
This can take many forms, including:
- outreach – seeking those outside the church; accepting responsibilities within the community
- pastoral – welcoming newcomers; visiting the sick or housebound; working with children and young people
- liturgy – leading intercessions; reading in services; acting as chalice assistant; involvement in the musical life of the church
- leadership, administration and communication – being a member of the Parochial Church Council (PCC) or other church committees; becoming a churchwarden; engaging with social media on behalf of the church
- group leadership – leading a Bible study group; running a parent-toddler group, a youth group, a group for the elderly or a charitable project based at the church.
Authorised and licensed ministry
Some people’s calling has a specifically ministerial dimension, and involves being formally licensed or commissioned as a lay minister; having their ministry, whether it happens inside the church or in the wider community, affirmed in their local parish; joining a religious order; or being ordained as a priest or deacon. You can find more information about these different types of ministry below.
Lay ministry takes many forms. Within the Diocese of Southwark, lay ministers include:
- Readers, who teach the faith (preaching, teaching, and leading worship), enable mission, and lead in church and society (assisting in pastoral, evangelistic and liturgical work in the local church and community)
- Pastoral ministry (including Southwark Pastoral Auxiliaries), who help to develop caring and pastoral work on behalf of the Church. This may take place within the local church, or in the wider community
- Lay Pioneers, who connect with people outside of the Church, creating new ways of doing church together in the community
- Church Army Evangelists, who work to transform lives and local communities, and to enable people to come to faith
- Children’s and Youth Workers, who nurture and encourage young people in their Christian faith and support them in the local community
- Spiritual Directors, who walk alongside people in their journey of faith, helping them to reflect on their lives and experiences and to explore how they might become more open to the movements of the Holy Spirit.
You can find more information on the roles and responsibilities of lay ministry on the Lay Ministries and Pioneer Ministries pages.
Ordained ministry comes in two forms:
Deacons live a life of visible self-giving. They may preach, teach, baptise and lead the church community in prayer, and have a particular care for the vulnerable and marginalised.
Priests are ordained to lead the people of God through word and sacrament. They exercise an extremely diverse ministry: in parishes, cathedrals, hospitals, schools and colleges, prisons, the armed services and in Diocesan roles.
You can find more information on the roles and responsibilities of ordained ministry on the Ordained Ministries pages.
The Church of England has a number of religious communities, made up of monks and nuns. The members of each community take vows, which usually include some combination of poverty, chastity, obedience, stability and conversion of life.
Find out more about the practicalities of pursuing a religious life at: https://www.churchofengland.org/life-events/vocations/religious-life
For each of these paths there is a discernment and selection process. If you think you might be called to serve in one of these roles, you can find more information on what to do next on the Discernment and selection page.