Training as a Baptist Minister

Spurgeon's College trains people for mission and ministry from every continent. We welcome any student with a calling to ministry, regardless of background, age, gender or denominational allegiance, but we usually only accept students who have been recommended for training by their church leadership.

At Spurgeon's College you will find a programme tailored to your abilities, needs and aspirations, validated by the high-ranking University of Manchester.

Baptist ministry: what we offer

Training attractive, evangelical Baptist ministers is our core activity.

  • All Baptist Union candidates train in mission and ministry; within this overall package they can pursue an emphasis on pastoral leadership, evangelism or pioneer ministry.
  • Baptist ministerial training takes three years full-time or five years part-time.
  • There are two different routes of training – Church-based and College-based. Both routes now lead to an Honours Degree (BA) of the prestigious University of Manchester.
  • For admission to the Church-based route it is a requirement that a suitable placement is found; if this proves impossible we will refer you to a different route or ask you to defer for a year.
  • In the past, ministerial training was always full-time and that is still the preferred option. But we also recognise and accommodate bi-vocational training. Another group of students who can study part-time are parents of young families.
  • You can select from a wide selection of units, which form part of ministerial training.

Baptist ministry: steps to take

If you feel called to the Baptist ministry there are several steps you need to take in the following order:

  1. You need to have been a member of a Baptist church for two years.
  2. Discuss your plans with your own minister, or, if your church is without a minister, talk to your church leaders. These people can help you discern God’s will and calling. The leaders and congregation of your church will test your calling.
  3. Contact one of your Regional Ministers. If you do not know them, we can point you in the right direction.
  4. Your Regional Minister will arrange for you to attend a Ministerial Recognition Committee (MRC). That sounds a bit daunting but the aim is to affirm you in your calling within the wider Baptist family. The Regional Minister will guide you through the MRC process.
  5. Once the MRC has accepted you, it notifies Spurgeon's College. We then invite you to attend an interview day at the College. A mixed interview panel considers whether Spurgeon’s is the right place for you to study and if you have the motivation to complete the programme. If you are married, we invite your spouse to be fully involved by coming with you.

Already studied theology?

Our flexible approach allows us to accommodate any previous training you may have done. There is no need to repeat subjects you have covered. If you have a degree from another institution, you can achieve a Master’s (the MTh, pathway Advanced Christian Studies, also validated by the University of Manchester) at Spurgeon’s while training for the ministry.

How to apply

If you want to become a Baptist minister, please follow the steps 1-5 listed above, but please feel welcome to inform us of your interest at any time. Non-Baptist candidates can complete and submit the application form in consultation with their church leadership.

Not so sure?

Applying for ministerial training could be one of the huge steps in your life. Our Admissions Tutor, Dr Graham Watts, is happy to help you explore your call. Attending an Open Day is a great way to see if Spurgeon’s College is the right place for you to train. Alternatively, ask if you can attend classes for a day!

Conditions for entry

  1. Two A-levels (grade C or above) or equivalent. There are no subject requirements.
  2. Mature students and those with alternative/vocational/overseas qualifications are welcome, as are those who may have a combination of qualifications.
  3. Anyone called to ministry is welcome to join the programme which leads to a Certificate HE in Theology; once that is successfully completed they can progress to a Degree programme.
  4. A score of 6.5 or over on the IELTS test for non-native English speakers.

Did you know that we train almost half of all Baptist ministers in the UK?


Equipped to Minister

In conjunction with the Baptist Union of Great Britain, Equipped to Minister provides training for local church members, in particular for lay preachers and lay pastors. The Course Director is Dr Martin Stokley.

The course is designed to provide practical training for members of local churches and aims to equip participants to preach, pastor and serve in local churches. It follows a curriculum that has been jointly agreed by all Baptist Colleges and the Baptist Union of Great Britain. When accompanied by satisfactory outcomes of an Association’s ministerial recognition process, it is therefore acceptable to the Baptist Union as a pathway of training for those seeking accreditation as lay preachers or lay pastors.

The course takes place at Spurgeon's College on one Saturday per month with the exception of one module (History of Christianity: The Story of God’s People), which is designed for independent personal study using guided reading. The tutors are staff or associate staff of the College.

Who are the courses for?

Equipped to Minister is offered in the first instance to churches in the Eastern Baptist Association, the London Baptist Association and the South East Baptist Association, but the course welcomes participants from other locations and denominations.

This popular and sometimes oversubscribed course attracts a wide range of participants. Through a mixture of lecture, discussion and group work it provides a lively atmosphere to explore key aspects of mission and ministry. It is taught at Access level (about or just above ‘A’ level) and is an ideal starting point for those who wish to deepen their understanding of the Bible, theology, mission, ministry and personal spiritual development, even if they are returning to study after a long break. Many participants also find the course a significant step towards developing their service for God in their churches and are inspired to further their studies. Quite a few graduates go on to join another course at Spurgeon’s.

How does the programme work?

Launched in 2003, Equipped to Minister has proved to be a very popular and highly valued training programme. It works as follows:

  • There are twelve modules, eight of which are required by the BU for lay preachers and twelve for lay pastors:
Reading and Using the Bible 1 and 2 Leading Worship
Exploring Christian Belief 1 and 2 Preaching
Evangelism and Mission Spirituality
Church Management and Leadership Pastoral Care
History of Christianity: The Story of God's People Baptist History and Principles
  • Participants can choose to attend individual modules or work towards gaining the Certificate.
  • The course operates as a rolling programme and so it can be joined at the beginning of any full module.
  • Each module contains 12 hours of contact time divided over two Saturdays (9.00am to 4.00pm) in consecutive months. Drinks are provided at a modest cost and students bring their own lunches.
  • An exception to the above is the module History of Christianity: The Story of God’s People, which is an independent personal study module using guided reading.
  • There is no need to write assignments. However, participants who seek the Certificate of Achievement must submit two assignments per module. (Three for the History of Christianity: The Story of God’s People.) The assignments vary from module to module which ensures their practical value to ministry and mission; they include essays, journals, reflective studies and practical work such as evaluations of preaching and leading worship.
  • After satisfactory completion of eight modules and assignments candidates are awarded a Spurgeon's College Certificate of Achievement, which is an internally validated Spurgeon’s award.
  • Credit can be given for previous studies where these are documented or can be carried forward into other Baptist Union training initiatives.
  • Participants may be seeking accreditation as preachers or lay pastors, may be training for other forms of service or may be intending simply to further their own education.
  • No previous qualifications are required.

Contact details
Course Director: Dr Martin Stokley
Course Administrator: Mrs. Anne Kemp

Spurgeon's College
189 South Norwood Hill
SE25 6DJ
020 8653 1235

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