FORGE Ministry Apprenticeship Scheme

Launched in 2022, FORGE is an exciting Ministry Apprenticeship Scheme to enable young Christians to develop a strong and enduring faith through training and service in the church. It offers young disciples aged 18–25 the opportunity to explore Christian ministry, discover their gifts, learn new skills, and serve Jesus. Applications for 2023–24 will open in April.

FORGE logo
FORGE logo



The Diocese of Down and Dromore in partnership with our churches and church plants, has launched FORGE – a Ministry Apprenticeship Scheme – for young Christians aged  18–25 to help them grow in their faith, explore Christian ministry, discover and develop their gifts and serve Jesus within Down and Dromore.

Down and Dromore is one of 11 dioceses within the Church of Ireland. Led by Bishop David McClay, we are actively committed to evangelism, discipleship and to raising up a new generation of leaders for God’s church. Currently we have 111 churches and 9 church plants. 

This scheme provides an opportunity for young disciples to work and learn in an apprenticeship model with church leaders and their teams in host churches and church plants within the diocese.

Apprentices will be fully involved in the life and witness of their host church and participate in the ministries of the church especially children’s and youth programmes. Where available, there will also be the opportunity to gain experience in schools’, outreach and compassion ministries. They will also contribute to diocesan–wide ministry programmes such as Saturday Night Live and our Kilbroney Camp programmes.

The Apprentice year starts with induction and includes monthly release for training, group visits to Christian ministries and an end of year celebration event.


During their year, Apprentices will:

  • Grow in their faith
  • Understand the biblical foundations for ministry
  • Gain insight into their strengths and weaknesses
  • Acquire new interpersonal, teamworking, leadership, teaching and evangelism skills
  • Gain experience in church–based and diocese–wide ministries
  • Develop longstanding friendships with Christian brothers and sisters
  • Have explored a call to Christian ministry

Host churches will:

  • Extend the reach of their existing ministries
  • Develop new ministries and outreaches

The diocese will:

  • Raise up a new generation of ministry leaders
What does being an Apprentice involve?

A commitment to growing in faith:

  • Attending worship in their host church
  • Participating in life groups, prayer meetings and staff devotions
  • Practising spiritual disciplines

Serving in Christian ministries in their host church:

  • The apprentice will be supported to plan, prepare and deliver exciting programmes for children and/or young people as part of a team.  This may include programmes such as Youth Groups, after school clubs, Youth Alpha, Youth discipleship courses, Holiday bible clubs, Sunday School, Kid’s Club, ministries in schools (Scripture Union Groups; School Assemblies), Life groups, pastoral visits and compassion ministries.
  • Attending regular staff meetings and supervision sessions in their host church.
  • Undertaking administrative and other tasks necessary for the running of ministries within their host church.
  • Participating in diocesan ministries to enable faith development in children and young people such as Saturday Night Live, Kilbroney Adventure Camps, J.A.M Camp, and Kilbroney Weekend Blast.
  • Engaging in training opportunities in their host church and diocese which enable them to undertake their ministry roles.
  • Partnering with other Christian organisations to develop ministry programmes.
What training will an Apprentice receive?

The host church and the diocese will provide all the training that is required to enable Apprentices to do the work they are undertaking. This will be provided through:

  • Local and diocesan induction
  • Training in their host church
  • Ministry development days (1/month) coordinated by the Diocesan Youth, Children’s and Families Department.
  • Group visits to Christian ministries
Where will the placements be?

Placement Hosts will be churches and church plants in the diocese which have been selected based on their commitment to Youth, Children’s and Family Ministry and their ability to support a Ministry Apprentice.

Each Placement Host will:

  • Appoint a named supervisor for the Apprentice,
  • Organise an induction to the placement (including a 1–week work shadowing),
  • Offer pastoral support,
  • Offer in–house training,
  • Ensure access to office space and
  • Provide a placement allowance for the Apprentice.

Accommodation is not provided for Apprentices on this programme except during any residentials that the host church or diocese organises.

What is the time commitment?

Apprenticeships involve full–time placement

Host churches will agree a weekly schedule with their Apprentice(s)

This schedule will include time for Placement Host team meetings, youth, children’s and families’ ministry activities in the church (including preparation time), school–based ministry (if available) and supervision meetings. In addition, time will be scheduled for participation in Development Days and other training activities as well as engaging in the Diocesan Youth and Children’s Ministry Programme.

FORGE finances

Although FORGE, as a Ministry Apprenticeship Scheme, is an unpaid programme, participants will receive training and valuable experience.   

Placement hosts: Placement Hosts will provide an allowance to cover travel costs and meals consumed during work.

Diocesan team: The Diocese of Down and Dromore will cover the expenses associated with the monthly Development Days and any other events the diocese organises

Accommodation is not provided during placements.

Who can apply to become a Ministry Apprentice?

Successful applicants will have an active and growing faith in Jesus, be able to subscribe to “Being a Christian” (follow this link) and regularly attend a Christian church.

They will be aged between 18 and 25 on the start date of the programme. They will have the right to live and volunteer in Northern Ireland.

Successful applicants should have a heart for Christian ministry and a genuine desire to serve their local community through the church. They should have high personal integrity, be able to work confidentially and be committed to safeguarding children and young people. It’s desirable that they be team players who have good communication and interpersonal skills, are flexible and eager to learn.

FORGE is ideal for school–leavers, graduates or people taking a gap year.

What is the timeline?

The FORGE programme will commence each year at the start of September. At the end of the following year the diocese will organise a Celebration Event where Apprentices will give a snapshot presentation about their year on the scheme and receive Achievement Awards acknowledging their completion of the programme.

Applying to FORGE

Applications for 2023–24 will open in April 2023, so please check back for an application form.

The Diocese of Down and Dromore acknowledges the generous support of Benefact Trust, Church of Ireland Youth Department, Church of Ireland Orphans and Children Society for the counties of Antrim and Down, and the House of Vic–Ryn Trust.