“Are you dancing?”

“Are you asking?”

“I’m asking!”

“Then I’m dancing!”


When it comes to travelling the pathways towards ministry, there can be a coyness in our following that mirrors the old banter of the dancehall. While the inner niggles gnaw away at us, when we start considering what God is calling us to do, we often do this dance with Him. We want to, but can’t appear too eager! Who me? Are you sure?

Isn’t it amazing how God uses the smallest, the youngest, the fearful or those who think of themselves as the least. David, Jonah and Gideon, even the boy with fish and bread, all are led to give something of themselves (or at least their lunch) to the story of God’s interaction with us.

As our Church changes, we need to reflect on the place of call, not just for those in our national ministries, but for every single member. While the natural focus has been on (the lack of) those within the national ministries, maybe we can pay more attention to the nurture of those who outwork their ministry in their own community, village or town.

When I reflect on my own pathway to ministry, it was with the encouragement of my minister who took risks with me and others, and allowed us to try-on and try-out ministry. The reading of the lesson on a Sunday was a big thing! It was initially a bit scary, what of the big words that I couldn’t pronounce! And…. a prayer….I didn’t do words or writing! Who was I to stand up before elders and Sunday School teachers and lead sections of a service?

It was only when I was a minister myself that I realised how risky that was. Was my heart thumping when someone couldn’t be heard properly or rushed through or missed something out? It takes a particular mix of patience and hardiness when working in such ways with others. It also takes grace and encouragement on the part of a congregation.

Some will journey and find themselves in our national ministries; others will find themselves deeply fulfilled within their local context, reaching out to community through school work, nursing homes, pastoral care and worship leading. This is not just helping the minister out, but the fulfilling of their call to their ministry in their local context.

This August, we launch Church of Scotland Learning. It is a resource that will help better equip our members to build their confidence in their God-given abilities. It will develop leadership skills and root knowledge into practice. It will lead some to explore other avenues of ministry, take on new leadership roles, bringing others to consider how best they can serve God.

Yet, we are also aware that to enable new people to meet the missional challenges ahead for the whole Church, we need to be radical and bold. We are presently asking some difficult questions – what would a new apprenticeship route into ministry look like? What other pathways can we explore? What can we learn from other denominations who have more specialised training routes for both younger and older people or pioneers or chaplains?

Our key is recognising that we are on a pathway to ministry. That it is for every person to discern their calling, whether local or national; with the national Church, Presbyteries and local congregations working together to be supportive of that journey.

So, we are asking! Are you dancing? You’re dancing! Then come and dance the different pathways of ministry with us!


Please consider encouraging someone to come to our “Celebrating Calling” event on Saturday 26 August in Hamilton.

The day will start with coffee from 10.30 am and, on either side of a light lunch, will feature various seminars, each addressing an aspect of the process of considering one or other of the church’s ministries – enquiring, exploring, evaluating and, ultimately, entering.

This is a ‘zero commitment’ day. Our aim is simply to help clarify best next-steps for people.

Contact ministry@churchofscotland.org.uk for more information.