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Training and development: Ministerial Development Review for Licensed Lay Ministers

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In any ministry, in any work there is a constant danger that we do things simply because we’ve always done it that way or because someone tells us that this is the right way to do it. We can fall into practices without thinking whether or not this is best practice or is going to further the Kingdom of God. Ministerial Development Review is now a well tried and tested method to help those in ministry take a step back and reflect on skills, talents, attitudes, and vocational calling in a safe and encouraging situation.

Ministerial Development Review is not a checking-up process, but rather a minister-led reflection on current ministry which offers outcomes for support, development, fresh opportunity and continuing training & education.

MDR should, then:

  • Formalise the ‘How’s it going’ question
  • Be a two-way conversation
  • Offer possibilities for support and development
  • Give opportunity for change, refocusing or expansion of role
  • Ensure that no-one is undertaking a ministry that they are unable or unwilling to continue

It should be encouraging, challenging, offer agreed outcomes and give organised feedback. It will be an opportunity to stand back with your incumbent once a year, and with a trained independent consultant ever three years, for the benefit of each person’s ministry and for the ministry of God’s church.

This Ministry Development Scheme builds on the success of many years’ experience of Ministerial Development Review for clergy in the Diocese of London, along with experience in Lay MDR in parts of London Diocese and extensive research into how best this can be used to support, develop and encourage Lay Ministers across London.

The MDR scheme for Licensed Lay Ministers and Readers outlined in these pages is to be introduced across London during 2013. For more information about the implementation in each Area contact the Area warden of Director of Training and Development.

Aim and objectives of MDR

The aim of Ministerial Development Reviews is that ministers should become more effective Christians in the service of Jesus Christ through self-reflection and challenge as well as affirmation and encouragement of their peers.

The objectives are that ministers:

  1. be given an opportunity to pray and reflect on their vocation and ministry
  2. take stock of their ministry thus far and identify areas on which to build and areas of need which should be given attention
  3. be given an opportunity to celebrate their ministry and receive affirmation
  4. be given an opportunity to be encouraged and challenged
  5. become realistic about their strengths and weaknesses
  6. set goals for their work and personal development
  7. identify and access both personal and professional training, support and development needs

Outline of the Lay MDR scheme

These aims and objectives will be achieved through the following framework:

  1. An annual review of your Working Agreement with your Incumbent/Priest in Charge
  2. A three yearly facilitated self-review of your ministry with an external consultant (the Consultant MDR)
  • Input to the MDR will be a simple preparation form together with your most recent working agreement and feedback from your incumbent
  • An agreed Summary of the MDR discussion will be captured at the end of the meeting, including objectives and Continuing Ministerial Development needs for planning and future reference.
  • The MDR summary will be copied to the Bishop, Area Warden and your incumbent
  • You will receive a response from the Bishop/Warden/CMD Officer as appropriate.
  • Your incumbent will discuss with you any next steps arising out of the MDR

Most of the information following relates to the triennial Consultant MDR so that you get the most out of this part of the MDR process. However, it is very important to ensure that you meet with your incumbent annually to review your Working Agreement (LLM21).

Annual review

The foundations of MDR rest on the Annual Review with your Incumbent. Although there may not be much change year on year, the annual review gives a vital opportunity to look at each section of the working agreement together, to have a two way conversation and to answer the questions posed in the introduction:

  • How’s it going?
  • How can we provide the support and development you need?
  • Is there an opportunity or need to change, refocus or expand your role and how can we achieve that?
  • Are there any aspects of your ministry that you are unable or unwilling to continue?

The outcome of the annual review will be agreed revisions to your work agreement (or an agreement that no change is necessary). No formal report is expected, only that any new version Work Agreement is sent to the Area Warden of LLMs with a note of the changes or a confirmation that no changes have been made.

The consultant MDR discussion

This is an opportunity for you to sit down with a trained consultant of your choosing (selected by you from a list of consultants) who is independent from your work, but familiar with the church and ministry in London. The discussion will be for about two hours every three years and will focus on your ministry and your parish. You may determine the precise agenda but it will include what has gone well and what has contributed to this and areas that have been more difficult and whether there are possibilities for action. There will also be an opportunity to agree some realistic goals for the next three years and to identify further support or development needs that might help in the attainment of these goals

The discussion will be aided by your most recent Work Agreement, feedback from your incumbent and a preparation form which will provide the background for your review. The content of the preparation form and the discussion will be confidential between you and your consultant, who will respond in a non-directive way to the topics you wish to discuss.

At the end of the discussion you will prepare and agree a brief summary statement which will be sent to the Bishop and Area Warden.

Theological foundations of MDR

Many theological strands can be picked up in the MDR process and it is useful to be reminded of some of these.

Often, in his ministry, Jesus took time aside to reflect and to pray; Ministerial Development Review and the preparation of the self-assessment form provides an ideal opportunity to reflect on ministry in a structured way, which is different from a retreat or Quiet Days.

At the heart of MDR is the need to hold and to work on ‘Vision’. We are called not just to bumble along but rather to see ourselves and our ministry within the whole work of God and the Vision of the Kingdom of God. We are reminded by the writer of Proverbs that

“Where there is no vision, there the people perish” Proverbs 29:18

Perhaps most compelling though, is St Paul urging the people of Ephesus to be equipped for the task that is set before them:

“The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.” Ephesians 4:11-13

Ministry is a gift therefore for which each individual holds account. MDR provides a structure for this accountability to God, to the parish/congregation, to the Bishop whose license we hold and to the wider Church and society. To be aware of our strengths and weakness, to receive organised and meaningful feedback, to identify our development needs; this will contribute in a major way to enabling us to equip ourselves and will also remind us of our shared responsibility with our colleagues in ministry and our responsibility to ourselves.

How do I carry out a review?

Read the step-by-step process of the review in this article

Read guidelines on filling in the forms, and download them from these pages:

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