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To train for accredited Baptist ministry

The training of ministers lies at the heart of all the Baptist colleges. Accredited Baptist ministers might have pastoral oversight of a church; they might be chaplains in health, education, prisons, the armed forces, business or industry; they might be pioneers seeking to establish a kingdom presence in a new setting; they might be specialists in evangelism or children’s or youth ministry. But in every case, their training is made up of two elements – theological education and ministerial formation. If you wish to become an accredited minister, the colleges will provide the theological teaching necessary for you to gain a diploma or degree. This teaching will be integrated into a programme that will train you in the skills of ministry and encourage the necessary character which we call the Marks of Ministry. You will also gain experience of ministry practice through a training placement.

Please be aware that the colleges can only accept you for ministerial training once your calling has been confirmed by your own Baptist church and by your regional association. If you think God may be calling you to ministry, you should contact your regional minister, ideally having talked it through with your own church minister or leadership team.

The options for ministerial training are broad. They vary from college to college and can be tailored to suit your circumstances and level of experience. We strongly recommend that after reading this and browsing some college websites, you speak directly to a college to talk about your journey.

Geographically, our colleges are based in Bristol, Cardiff, Manchester, Oxford and South London. However, Spurgeon’s College will offer a full ministerial formation programme at their Midlands hub in Birmingham from September 2020. And Northern Baptist College works in partnership with St. Hild’s College in Sheffield and Cranmer Hall in Durham.  In these partnerships, the partner college works with Northern Baptist College to ensure you gain both the necessary theological learning and ministerial formation. Northern Baptist College also has a partnership with the Light College beginning in September 2020. This is for those training for evangelism and pioneering ministry. Please see the pioneering section for more details. 

If you have no prior theological qualifications
Ministerial formation generally takes place over three years if you are a full-time student. In this time, a college will guide you towards either a diploma or a degree in theology.

It is still possible to be college-based, for which you will live in or near college in order to study for a degree. Alongside this study, you will spend a number of hours each week in a church, chaplaincy or mission placement alongside an existing minister.

However, most ministers-in-training these days opt for a congregation-based or mission context-based training route. In this case, you will spend around half of your time as the minister of a church or in another ministry setting. You will spend the remainder of your week in study and learning, coming into college for one or two days a week, or for a number of weekends throughout the year. If you are placed in a church, that church will usually pay you a half-stipend and provide you with housing.  

A third, bi-vocational option is offered by some of the colleges and is the only model offered by South Wales Baptist College. You study at college and gain experience in a church alongside continuing in your current profession or vocation on a part-time basis. This route is challenging but opens up an increasing number of ministry and pioneer opportunities where a full stipend cannot be provided. Bi-vocational training may well extend beyond three years due to its part-time nature.
If you already have a diploma or degree in theology
If you already have a theological qualification to at least diploma level, you will still need to complete the ministerial formation programme at one of the colleges. Generally, this will still take three years and during this time you are likely to be encouraged to enhance your theological qualification to degree or master’s level. However, if your prior theological education included an element of formation, then our Baptist colleges may be able to offer a reduced training programme that fills the gaps in your learning or experience. Regent’s Park College offers a two-year ‘formation pathway’ for exactly this purpose, for example.

If you have a diploma or degree in theology and have considerable experience of leading a church or mission already, it is possible to circumvent college training altogether. In this instance, BUGB accreditation can be gained through the annual three-day Residential Selection Conference. If you think this option may apply to you, you should speak to your regional minister.

Whatever your prior learning or experience, you will be expected to complete a learning module called Baptist History and Principles. This can be studied as a standalone programme at any college.

Photo: Kaleb Tapp on Unsplash
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