Areas of Exploration for Discussion

The following five areas need to be explored in some depth with the discerner. Click on each topic to expand for additional information.

The questions are suggestions that can be adapted, added to, followed through on or deleted at need, but should provide guidelines for beginning the discussions. The discerner should know in advance about the areas and kinds of questions that are to be explored so that he or she can engage with them prayerfully and thoughtfully.


Call to Ministry

The CCOM listens to and supports the discerner in articulating her or his sense of call to ministry. If the call being explored is to ordination (diaconate or priesthood), how does the discerner distinguish between the two vocations? What is it about the ordained expression of ministry that the discerner cannot offer as a committed lay person? Who have been role models for the discerner? What does the discerner understand about the concept of servant leadership in terms of the ministry of deacon or priest? How does the discerner experience the sacramental nature of the ministry he or she is exploring? Has the discerner studied and prayed with the appropriate ordination rites in the Book of Common Prayer? What stands out from those rites for the discerner?

Spiritual Life and Prayer

The CCOM explores with the discerner the nature of her or his spiritual life – prayer and other spiritual disciplines. What regular routines of prayer, worship, study, Sabbath and service does the person use? Does he or she see a spiritual director regularly? What is that relationship like? How does the discerner understand her or his relationship with God? Does the discerner feel more or less in relationship with one or another of the Persons of the Trinity? How does he or she understand and experience the Eucharist? How does the discerner experience and understand his or her relationship to and responsibility for the rest of creation? How does that effect her or his spirituality? How has the discerner experienced growth and change in her/his spiritual life during his/her lifetime? What kinds of blocks have there been? Special moments?

Family Life and Self Care

The CCOM explores with the discerner the nature of his or her family life and other close relationships. How does his or her spouse or partner (if in a such a committed relationship) feel about this exploration of a possible call. Is the spouse or partner supportive? Uncertain? What concerns have been raised. How have they worked out the possible difficulties that responding to such a call could bring? What about children or other dependents? Parents? Siblings? Do they know? How are they reacting?

What kind of relationship does the person have with her or his family of origin? If the person is not in a familial relationship, explorations can be made of close friendships. What family of origin issues or current relationship issues might challenge or create difficulty for the discerner in the ministry she or he is exploring.

What sort of financial considerations might there be, particularly in terms of seminary or the School for Deacons? How will these and other related expenses be covered? What sort of debt load is the discerner currently carrying?

How does the discerner care for him or herself both physically and mentally? What issues might there be surrounding health? What does she or he do for relaxation, for fun? What kind of reading does he or she do for enjoyment?

Leadership and Ecclesiology (Theology of the Church)

The CCOM explores with the discerner how she or he understands and relates to the church both institutionally and as the Body of Christ. How has the discerner experienced life in the institutional church in the past? In the present? What has changed? How does the discerner see the institutional church moving into the future? Is he or she hopeful about the future church? Worried? Discouraged? All of the above? How does the discerner see his or her role in the present and future church?

What sort of leadership experience does the discerner have? How would she or he describe his or her leadership style? Where does the discerner need to grow in leadership? How might this growth be sought and nurtured? How have others described the discerner’s leadership gifts?

How does the discerner understand the authority of the Bishop, the Convention, General Convention, priests and deacons? How does the discerner understand the relationship of clergy and bishop on this diocese? If the question is to discern a possible call to the Diaconate, is the person prepared to go wherever the Bishop asks?

If the discerner is exploring a call to a non-parochial way of living a call to ordination (for example, hospital, school, prison chaplaincy, ordination within a religious or other intentional community, etc.) how does she or he believe that his or her call would be lived out within the larger life of the Church?

How does the discerner handle conflict? Where are her or his growing edges in this area? Can the discerner talk about times when he or she made a major mistake of some sort and what was learned from that experience? How does that experience influence the way the discerner might handle disagreements and conflict?

Academics and Intellectual Life

The CCOM explores with the discerner his or her interest in the faithful life of the mind – learning, connecting intellect with faith, stretching mentally.

What formal educational formation, if any, has the discerner had in the Christian faith? In the Anglican/Episcopal way of living that faith? How has the discerner studied and learned outside the realm of formal academic training? What areas are of particular interest to the discerner? Where does the discerner think that she or he needs extra work to learn. How would the discerner go about teaching others about Christianity? The CCOM might explore different scenarios in which the discerner would need to share the traditions and teachings of Christianity.

How familiar is the discerner with the Diocese of Northern California’s requirements for ordination?

What is the discerner’s academic background; both their strengths and weaknesses? Is the discerner familiar with the typical Seminary curriculum or that of the School for Deacons? Does the discerner have the intellectual and financial resources to make education at a Seminary or The School for Deacons realistic?

How is the discerner currently developing his or her knowledge? What has the discerner recently read that has been intellectually and spiritually challenging? What is he or she looking forward to reading next and why?

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