Kirk moves towards one-to-one discernment conversations

Those exploring a calling to one of the recognised ministries within the Church of Scotland will now be offered a one-to-one discernment conversation, as the Kirk moves away from the Vocations Conference approach and towards individual discussions.

Woman with the word Ministry to the left of her
The Church of Scotland’s Ministries Council conducted a wider review of their recruitment processes, seeking to eliminate any unnecessary barriers and offer a much more person-centred approach to those exploring their calling.

As part of the shift to one-to-one support, a new ‘ministry’ brand has been developed to bring together the full ministerial journey from the initial vocations exploration through recruitment, to eventual training and ongoing ministry service.

This move merges the previously used ‘Vocations – It’s Your Call’ and ‘Tomorrow’s Calling’ brands, offering a more holistic approach to the ministry journey and all the stages ministries applicants encounter along the way.

Breaking down barriers

In the past, the Church of Scotland has held two Vocations Conferences each year, and these have been a compulsory first step to exploring application for one of the four recognised paths to ministry in the Church of Scotland: Readership, the Diaconate, Ordained Local Ministry and Full Time Ministry of Word and Sacrament.

“What we were finding, however, was what people were really looking for was an opportunity to explore in person their specific questions and possible routes into ministry,” Lezley Stewart, the Church of Scotland’s Recruitment and Support Secretary, said.

Lezley Stewart
Lezley Stewart, the Church of Scotland's Recruitment and Support Secretary

“Queues used to form at the end of the day for these conversations, which couldn’t be adequately responded to in the conference setting.

“Another issue was that, if someone called us in July, the first opportunity for a Vocations Conference was in February, and if they were unable to attend that date, it would be June.

“Someone might lose the opportunity to explore their sense of call at that time in a more meaningful manner.”

In response to this, the Church of Scotland’s Ministries Council conducted a wider review of their recruitment processes, seeking to eliminate any unnecessary barriers and offer a much more person-centred approach to those exploring their calling.

The decision was made to move away from Vocations Conferences and engage those at the first stage with an individual discernment conversation.

Lezley added: “Now, in an informal discernment conversation, which can be set up in a matter of days or weeks, the potential applicant meets with one of the Kirk’s recruitment team to explore their questions and pathways, and has the opportunity to apply to enter discernment from that point onwards.

“Equally, the conversation might be helpful in helping someone recognise that is not the right choice for them at this time.”

‘Ministry is an adventure of faith for every Christian’

Those embarking on the discernment process will continue to be placed with a local mentor and have a presbytery assessor in place, with all the other subsequent stages still remaining as before. You can find more details on our First Steps pages.

“Ministry is an adventure of faith for every Christian,” Lezley said.

“We are all called to minister in some way as we respond to Jesus’ call upon our lives.

“The wider task of the Church is to nurture, encourage and accompany those who may sense a call to ministry service in one of the recognised ministries of the Church.

“We want to take the individual journey as the starting point for all we do in encouraging recruitment for ministry, and recognise that each person has been on a much wider journey of faith before coming to this point.

“The discernment conversation offers that personal focus and a much more tailored response; recognising the importance of this enquiry stage and the person at the heart of it.

“We are also indebted to all those who continue to encourage vocations in local churches. It is very much a partnership with the local church, as that is where faith is nurtured and grown.”

Take your first steps and arrange a conversation today

To find out more, and to set up a meeting with someone in the Kirk’s ministry team to explore your calling, you can email them or call them on 0131 240 2205.

Meetings can either take place in the Church of Scotland offices in Edinburgh or via a video-conference if required.

You can also read more about the journey into the Church of Scotland’s ministries on our website.