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Preparation for Ministry

2011-2013 Advisory Handbook on Preparing for Ministry in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)


The revision to the Book of Order approved by the presbyteries in 2011 was intentionally different in tone and purpose from recent versions. Rather than a regulatory manual that provides guidance for all that we do as a church, it is a description of our common life. The Book of Order now opens with “Foundations of Presbyterian Polity” that lay out the important theological and ecclesial principles for the church’s life. The extensively revised Form of Government has many detailed provisions removed, leaving a broad framework within which councils of the church discern what is the best course of action based on their mission context and understanding of God’s will.

In keeping with that approach, the current “Advisory Handbook” guides those discerning a possible call to ordered ministry as teaching elders and those who work with them through the process of preparation for ministry. It explores the changing ministry landscape into which God will “send out laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:38), reviews the current constitutional requirements related to preparation for ordination as a teaching elder, outlines the responsibilities of the different partners in the process, and identifies resources on a variety of related topics.

This resource is no longer published for purchase. It is available without charge through the links below in a variety of formats. Mid-councils are free to use the documents or adapt them for incorporation into their own documents.

The “Advisory Handbook” is regularly updated in response to suggestions from the presbyteries and actions by the church and its agencies. The latest revision is identifiable by the date “March 2013” on the cover page and “Release 1.4” on the copyright page. )

Complete “Advisory Handbook”



Portions related to specific topics are also available as handouts in either Adobe Reader (.pdf) or Microsoft Word (.doc) file formats.

“Preparing for Ministry Today”

Download the PDF

“Walking the Road Together” (Book of Order requirements review)

Preparing for ordination as a teaching elder

                                Inquiry, candidacy, and beyond (G-2.0601; G-3.0307) PDFWord

                                Shared responsibilities for care (G-2.0605) PDFWord

                                Oversight and Immigration Issues PDFWord

                                Changing the partners to the covenant (G-2.0608) PDFWord

                                Take the time necessary (G-2.0602)  PDFWord

                                Preparing for ministry through practice (G-2.0606) PDFWord

                 Inquiry Phase (G-2.0603)

                                Admission to Inquiry PDFWord

                                During Inquiry PDFWord

                                Deciding about “suitability for ordered ministry” PDFWord

                Candidacy Phase (G-2.0604)

                                Entering the Candidacy Phase PDFWord

                                During Candidacy PDFWord

                                Examining Inquirers and Candidates PDFWord
                                Deciding about “fitness and readiness” PDFWord

                Final Assessment and Negotiation for Service

                                Negotiation for Service (G-2.0607) PDFWord

                                Final Assessment (G-2.0607a-d) PDFWord

                                Certified Ready for Examination, Pending a Call (G-2.0607) PDFWord

                Exceptions (G-2.0610) PDFWord

                Removal from Covenant Relationship (G-2.0609) PDFWord

                Ordination (G-2.07) PDFWord


Roles and Responsibilities of Participants

                The Inquirer and Candidate

                                Before the process begins PDFWord

                                Initiating the process with your session PDFWord

                                Taking the session endorsement to the presbytery PDFWord

                                During the inquiry phase PDFWord

                                Considering transition to the candidacy phase  PDFWord

                                During the candidacy phase  PDFWord

                                Final assessment and negotiation for service  PDFWord

                                Receiving a call and ordination PDFWord

                The Session

                                Developing awareness of the call to teaching elder PDFWord

                                Exploring the call to ministry as a teaching elder PDFWord

                                Supporting inquirers and candidates PDFWord

                The Presbytery

                                Responsibilities of the presbytery as a whole PDFWord

                                Organizing to provide for the “full preparation” of teaching elders PDFWord

                                Responsibilities of the entity overseeing preparation for ministry PDFWord

                                Deciding whether to enroll an inquirer PDFWord

                                During the inquiry phase PDFWord

                                Considering transition to the candidacy phase PDFWord

                                During the candidacy phase PDFWord

                                Final assessment and negotiation for service PDFWord

                                Receiving a call and ordination PDFWord

                                General Responsibilities PDFWord

                The Theological Institutions PDFWord

                The Synod and General Assembly PDFWord



                Internet resources PDFWord

                Forms for use in the preparation for ministry process PDFWord

                Alternative Assessment of Competency PDFWord

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