Full-Time Church- Based Training FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions about our "Full-Time Church-Based Ordination Training" Route
Can I carry on working in my home church?
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.
What if I don’t have a church placement? Can you fix me up with one?
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.
Do I have to be an ordained pioneer minister to train with SPTC?
No. Both ‘regular’ ordinands and OPM candidates train with us. We have a focus in the practical part of our training on leadership for 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.
Won’t I miss out on good academic training?
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, Keith Ward and Richard Bauckham, who regularly teach with us. It also includes 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, Mark Russell, Chief Executive of the Church Army 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.
How much time would I spend on practical ministry and how much on study?
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.
What if I’m a theology graduate?
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.
What’s the link with HTB?
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.
How do the finances work?
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.
What would a normal week look like?
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.
How do I become an ordinand in the Church of England?
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 a local Anglican 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 to begin the journey of training and eventual position in ordained 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. Different dioceses run the selection procedure differently, but at some stage, if all goes smoothly, 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 your being selected for training for ordination in the Church of England or not. At some stage in this process you would also look at where might be the best place and pathway for you to train for ordination.
Once selected for ordination what are my training options?
There are basically three routes. The first is full time residential theological college training. The second is a part time 'Course' route where you train alongside doing a full time secular job. The third route is A 'Mixed Mode' course, of which our 'Church-Based, Full-time, Non-residential Ordination training' at St Mellitus (SPTC) is the largest in the country.
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.
How do I know if I have a calling to ordained ministry in the Church of England?
To download a brochure about this, please visit
The Bishop of London Richard Chartres
“At a time when fragmentation and partisanship can appear to threaten the credibility and effectiveness of our ministry, St Mellitus represents a bold step of faith and trust. We believe that as we pursue the harder path of unity in diversity, the College will prove to be an instrument of the Spirit in equipping the whole people of God to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The Bishop of Chelmsford Stephen Cottrell
“As we seek to train men and women for ministry and mission in a rapidly changing context, St Mellitus College offers the Chelmsford Diocese a flexible and inclusive approach for theological and ministerial education and formation. It is very exciting to be part of this pioneering initiative.”
The Dean Revd Dr Graham Tomlin
“St Mellitus College is a very exciting place to work. It brings together students from across the spectrum of the church to learn about and prepare for mission in the contemporary world, in a way that tries to be open to the Spirit of God and learning from each other. We have a fantastic group of students, a great staff team and it is a privilege to be part of it.”
Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge University, David Ford
"One of the most important experiments to have happened in British theology and church theological education for a long time. The way it is bringing together academy and church, including church at the grass roots - that collaboration is just full of potential for the future and I feel everyone should watch this space. What it can do is something that really no other theological institution in the country can achieve at the moment."