*** DEBUG START ***
*** DEBUG END ***

Angela Tilby: What is Continuing Ministerial Development for?

19 January 2018

iStock

FOR five years, I was Oxford Diocesan Adviser on Continuing Ministerial Development. We produced a programme of training events, and clergy and lay ministers signed up to come. Inevitably, on the day, there were those who never arrived. Others pulled out at the last minute, or turned up unexpectedly. Some of the things that we did, especially putting on residential conferences for new incumbents, were, I think, really useful. These were regarded as mandatory, although there were always some who managed to slide out of them.

Some dioceses are pretty prescriptive about CMD, others less so. But the trend, as in so many aspects of church life, is to look for a national consensus, and there is a gradually tightening expectation of what CMD should mean. The section on ministry on the C of E’s new website states that the purpose of CMD is to “strengthen a culture of lifelong learning in the Church”, and it is recommended that ministers set aside at least five days a year for their own development as well as an annual retreat.

I have no problems with that in theory, although I find the nannying tone of “at least five days a year” irritating. But then, reading on, I found something more disturbing: “Good practice in both provision and participation is ultimately evidenced in spiritual and numerical growth.” Really? So, if I am not seeing growth as a result of my participation in CMD, there is either something wrong with me or with the programme provided. I find this extraordinary: a veiled threat to add to the burden of anxiety that many sensitive clergy already bear.

Unlike the national Church, I never quite knew what CMD should be, or felt sure that we were getting it right. When the clergy were asked in the course of their annual review what they thought they needed for their ministerial development, the main issue was time. Time to pray, time to study, time for the family, time to sleep. Taking time out to do a course on, for example, time management was not always the first priority.

In my last year in the post, I convened a group of clergy and lay ministers on a cold autumn Saturday at Ripon College, Cuddesdon. We came to refresh our knowledge of St Matthew’s Gospel: Year A was coming up. Dr Michael Lakey, the New Testament Tutor at Cuddesdon, reminded us of Matthew’s distinctive themes, and encouraged us to think about how we might take account of these in our preaching and teaching. It seemed to me to be exactly what CMD should be about: gathering around scripture, renewing our knowledge, listening and talking to one another, and deepening our insights.

As for numerical and spiritual growth, that is God’s business, and cannot be guaranteed.

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Letters to the editor

Letters for publication should be sent to letters@churchtimes.co.uk.

Letters should be exclusive to the Church Times, and include a full postal address. Your name and address will appear below your letter unless requested otherwise.

Forthcoming Events

 

Church Times Month

March 2024

For the whole of March, Church Times is offering completely FREE online access, so you can share stories without a paywall.

We are also asking our readers to spread the news of the Church Times among their friends, acquaintances, and fellow churchgoers (and non-churchgoers).

Find out more

 

Keeping faith in Journalism: a Church Times Webinar

11 March 2024 | 6pm GMT

An expert panel discusses trust between the media and the public

Online Tickets available

 

Church Times/RSCM:

Festival of Faith and Music

26 - 28 April 2024

See the full programme on the festival website. 

Early bird tickets available

 

Green Church Awards

Closing date: 30 June 2024

Read more details about the awards

 

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times

 

You are able to read this for FREE as part of Church Times Promotional Month, where for the whole of March, we are offering unlimited web access to the newspaper.

From next month to explore the Church Times website fully, you will need to sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers will return to only being able to read four articles for free each month.