Friday, 30 October 2009

Ministry Development Review ahoy

A slightly busy and intense time, including a two night residential learning event at Whirlow Grange, Sheffield’s retreat and spirituality centre, exploring Ministry Development Review. National interim guidance consistent with the new Terms and Conditions of Service being implemented in 2010 has brought together the whole ragbag of schemes that have grown up around England in the past 20 years. This event brought together a dozen of us — bishops, archdeacons ministry development officers and a lay reviewer with commercial HR experience, from various dioceses around the country, from Manchester to Truro.

Events like this are rather like a sit-down meal — a lot depends on who you get on your table. Fortunately, this group represented a wide variety of people with different experiences in all kinds of circumstances, with a real commitment to learning together. Excellently led and enabled by Tim Ling, Paul Wright and Karen West, this course took a notional for-instance MDR and slowed it down, giving us space and time to try it for ourselves, then analyse the key issues and opportunities arising, playing with possibilities and backing up our experience alongside national guidelines and local practice.

As Ministry Development Review becomes mandatory across the Church, and different dioceses roll out new schemes, it’s going to be really important to work at making this tool a real enrichment and support to colleagues in their ministry. That will involve conscious work by all of us, as the reviewees and reviewers we all are.

I can understand some clergy fearing MDR as a bit of secular managerialism they could do without. The only way to win their confidence will be to offer people really helpful, spiritually focussed and honest reviews. This won’t happen automatically. The one thing I learned from this event, above all, was how much there is for us all to learn, especially if we have been in and around ministry review processes for years. For example, I came away realising how much I need to raise my game around defining goals that really are goals, not just worthy bits of work.

I very much hope excellent training like this will be made available everywhere to all clergy and lay people delivering MDR.

Doing this properly will, of course, cost — but it will also benefit everyone especially the people we serve in our day to day ministries, as well as each other and, of course, ourselves.

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