Thursday, 27 September 2012

Reviewing the situation…

(This is from our new October Parish Magazine - you can read the whole of it online by clicking the link. Meanwhile we've been updating the Calendar and Sermon / Homily pages on this blog, as well as our parish website)

It’s time for my “Ministerial Development Review.” Doesn’t time fly? This is the process by which clergy are encouraged to assess where they are in the exercise of their ministry and priesthood - and they are now helped by a parallel process of gathering “feedback” from lay people in their parishes and others with whom they work.

I first engaged with this sort of process on a voluntary basis many years ago. We called it “appraisal” then - no forms were filled in and no records made of the discussions. But it was a positive experience - the more so because the person who did the appraising was himself a volunteer, and he wasn’t going to pass anything on to anyone else. After that the diocese set up a scheme of “Ministry Review,” recommended but voluntary. I’ve had an excellent peer consultant in this process and till recently met with him every three or four months - mainly I would do the talking, but his silences were a wonderful steer on the new directions I should be considering.

But a number of years ago things got official. The “Pastoral Conversation” was introduced - and with it came forms and a meeting with a member of the Bishop’s Staff Team. I don’t think you could be forced to do it, but there’d probably be some frowning if you didn’t. I happen to think that there does need to be a review process for all clergy - but I wondered just what happened to all the sheets of paper I covered in ink, and how much anyone took notice of the summary of the “Conversation” itself.

The latest incarnation is the “Ministerial Development Review.” It’s required of everyone who holds a post by “Common Tenure”… which means the Castleside bit of me needs to do it, but the Benfieldside bit could plead exemption by virtue of “Freehold.” Along with the paperwork I’ve submitted, eight people from the two parishes and beyond have been asked to fill in “feedback forms.” I’m very grateful to them, because they looked dreadful. As for my own form it asked me to start by listing the objectives agreed at my last MDR and to indicate both the extent to which they have been achieved and what has come from working at them. So I rang the Archdeacon to say there weren’t any. Apparently the form has changed - and I should review my “Role Description” - which has never been agreed (in fact it’s still a work in progress). I’ve managed something in the end.

The moral is, I suspect, that you’ll get so frustrated by the whole process that it forces you to think what you really should be doing with your time. Perhaps it’s by such processes that we all learn!