In recent years it has been recognised that there is a gap between diocesan discipleship courses and training for licensed and ordained ministries. In response ERMC has developed the one-year Foundations for Ministry course, offering enthusiastic students with and without formal qualifications a groundwork in academic study. This course enables and supports students as they respond to the call of Christ and discern a future vocation in the Church. This non-accredited one year course has been devised in partnership with two Church of England dioceses in the East of England.
Who is the course for?
This course is for those in a lay leadership role in their local church, or who aspire to lead in the near future. It also provides an opportunity for those who want to explore their faith at a deeper level. The focus on vocation in the third term can lead to an emerging vocation for some students. Where students are exploring an existing vocation to licensed lay or ordained ministry, it can also be a sound preparation for further training and academic study.
The course has also been studied by some individuals so they can grow in their knowledge of the love of God: they want to engage their faith more fully by developing a deeper academic understanding.
Structure and content of Foundations for Ministry
The course focuses on the Bible, Christian beliefs and ministry. There are three modules, one module per term, assessed by a written assignment at the end of each module.
- Module 1 – the basics of Biblical studies, exploring set texts from Isaiah 40-55 and Matthew’s gospel;
- Module 2 – the development of Christian beliefs in the early church and then modern doctrine, covering key ideas and debates to help students understand their beliefs more fully and articulate them to others;
- Module 3 – exploring issues of mission that affect individuals, churches, local communities and society. Students apply their learning to case studies each week, which stimulates discussion in the online forum.
What are the benefits to the diocese?
- Foundations for Ministry increases the pool of talented individuals who may then be ready to study for ordination or lay ministry with a Level 3 qualification (A level and equivalent, non-accredited) and confidence in their own ability to study.
- Completion of the course has been recognised as a valuable contribution to the discernment process.
- The course helps to develop volunteers who are keen to assist in ministry.
- It supports the active development of a new pool of potential future leaders from diverse backgrounds who can lead in mission and develop thriving churches.
- Foundations for Ministry is cost effective – the full course is undertaken online with dedicated online tutors providing support and stimulating discussion.
- Dioceses can add additional formational or vocational face-to-face sessions in line with diocesan priorities.
“In the diocese of St Albans, we have found the course has deepened people’s discipleship and equipped them for lay ministry in their local context. For some it has also been an invaluable resource in preparing them for further training towards licensed ministry.”
Rev’d Phil Bryson, former Lay Ministry Training Officer, Diocese of St Albans
What are the benefits for students?
- Students are encouraged to explore their faith at a deeper level as they consider their future engagement in God’s mission and how they will proclaim the Gospel in the world.
- The course is online and is studied asynchronously, so students can study from any location and study flexibly to fit around work or caring commitments.
- There are online forums for module discussion and to provide support and encouragement from their peers and the module tutor.
- Students receive an informal qualification at Level 3 and the experience of academic study so they are ready to take the next step.
- Study materials include videos, podcasts, artworks and reading to benefit students who learn in different ways and maximise inclusivity.
- Tutors take a caring, encouraging approach to assignments and grades to boost confidence.
- At the start of the Foundations for Ministry there’s a valuable Introduction to Academic Studies to help students who have been out of formal education for a number of years.
- Just three hours of study each week is recommended, so the time commitment is not onerous.
- The course broadens students’ horizons by looking at a very wide range of theologies, so everyone feels included and valued.
“The course has helped me to learn more about my call and how I can be a part of the church to spread the good news, show God’s love, compassion and joy to the people in the local community. I highly recommend this course to all who want to discern their vocation in ministry to play their part in the growth of the Church.”
Comment from a student in the 2021/22 cohort
To discuss Foundations for Ministry in more detail, please contact Rev’d Dr Alex Jensen on firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01223 760444.