three disciples on the road to Emmaus red sign post with trees in background

Spiritual Direction: Choosing a Spiritual Companion

When we want to grow in our journey of faith…

When we want to deepen our relationship with God…

When we sense a vocational call…

When we are training for licensed or accredited ministry within the church…

When we are engaged in accredited or licensed ministry within the Church…

... it is important to find the support and encouragement and the accountability in faith this growth requires.

One way in which we can be supported and encouraged is by choosing to have a spiritual companion/guide/director. 

Have a look at the informaiton below, and contact those listed at the bottom of the page if you need to know more or go deeper.

  • What or who is a spiritual companion?

    Spiritual companions, or spiritual guides, or directors as they are sometimes called, are mature Christian men and women, who have been specially trained and have the experience and gifts to listen to you and encourage you. They may be lay or ordained or belong to a religious order.

  • A scriptural model of companionship

    The exemplar of spiritual companionship, or spiritual direction, from the Scriptures is the story of Jesus meeting the two disciples on the Emmaus Road. The two disciples walked along the road together. The ‘direction’ is about where they are walking to. It is Jesus himself who is their guide. He came to where they were on the road and walked with them, listening, encouraging and gently challenging.

    It was Christ himself who opened the Scripture for them and made himself known in the breaking of the bread. In spiritual companionship or direction, one disciple acts as a ‘life servant’ to the other and holds the sacred space so that Christ can come and meet with them both.

  • What should I expect?

    A spiritual guide will not tell you how to pray or what to do. He or she understands that it is God who is the prime mover. A good spiritual guide works with you to discern God’s guidance.

    A spiritual guide will:

    • Listen attentively to you and to God
    • Pray with and for you
    • Help you to explore and to grow in prayer
    • Help you to see more clearly how God is calling you and working in your life
    • Help you to celebrate the good things God is doing in your life
    • Help you to discern where God may be leading
    • Encourage you in your faith journey
    • Accept you as you are, whoever you are, without judging
    • Treat what you say as confidential within the safeguarding regulations laid down by the Church of England
  • Who is this for?

    Spiritual guidance is for anyone, of any denomination, who would welcome this ministry. There is no one, lay or ordained, whose life would not be enriched by it. Perhaps this is for you?

  • How can I find a spiritual companion?

    A spiritual guide can be found through approaching one of the area co-ordinators (see below) or the Revd Ann Coleman who chairs the co-coordinators group . He or she will offer to talk with you about spiritual direction in more detail. They are happy to explain anything you are uncertain about. They will help you to find the right guide for you and will give you contact details.

    The next step after that is for you to arrange to meet with your prospective guide. The purpose of that meeting is for you both to discern if this might be a fruitful relationship. If you decide to go ahead, the two of you would decide how often you will meet. This may be monthly, or every two or three months. Each meeting is usually for about an hour.

    Spiritual guidance is usually free of charge. Some guides do ask for a donation but they will make this clear at the outset.

    • If you are an ordinand, you may wish to contact your DDO in the first instance.
    • If you are training to be an LLM you may wish to contact the Lay Training Adviser in the first instance
    • If you are already in accredited or licensed ministry you may wish to contact the Wellbeing Adviser in the first instance
  • Questions to reflect on before making initial contact:
    • Would you like your spiritual guide to be a man, or a woman, or perhaps you do not mind either?
    • Would you like your spiritual guide to be lay, or ordained, or a religious brother or sister, or perhaps this is not an issue for you?
    • Would you like someone the same sort of age as you? Or someone older? Or younger?
    • Would you like someone from the same denomination as yourself or who has a similar faith/church experience to yourself?
    • Would you like someone with a particular area of expertise in prayer? e.g some people feel they would like to experience more about Ignatian ways of prayer.
    • Is there anything about your own gifts and experience which you feel needs to resonate with a spiritual guide? e.g. some musicians pray through music and want a spiritual guide who understands this or perhaps does the same.
    • Would you like someone who lives close by or are you happy to travel?

For more information or to report anything wrong with this page please contact Sarah Wilson