David Heywood

I was ordained in the Church of England in 1986, having been a secondary school teacher prior to training for ordination. Until 2006, I served in a variety of parish-based roles in Cheltenham, South Croydon and Stoke-on-Trent. During this time, I also contributed to diocesan training programmes for the dioceses of Southwark and Lichfield. I then moved into ministerial training full-time, first as a member of staff at Ripon College Cuddesdon and then as Deputy Director of Mission for the Diocese of Oxford. After retirement in 2020, I contributed to the follow-up to the Church of England report, ‘Setting God’s People Free’, which called on the Church to prioritise lay discipleship. I also work with ReSource, whose aim is to ‘enable little, local and ordinary churches to engage with the Holy Spirit for renewal, discipleship and mission.

From the time I first trained for ordination, I had a deep sense that the Church of England trains its ministers in the wrong way and for the wrong pattern of ministry. Rather than being equipped to enable and empower God’s people for mission and ministry together in every sphere of life, clergy are trained to maintain professional distance from their congregations and to exercise ministry on their behalf. Rather than drawing on the riches of Christian theology to resource their ministry, would-be ministers are inducted into the study of academic theology. Those who teach them are expected to be experts in their academic fields and adopt teaching strategies based on the transfer of content. They are not expected, and may not even be encouraged to develop the educational skills they need to equip their students to apply their understanding of theology to the tasks of ministry, especially that of empowering the whole church to join with the Holy Spirit in God’s mission.

In Colossians chapter 1, the apostle Paul writes about, ‘warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom to present everyone mature in Christ,’ and he goes on to say that this is what he is doing with all the energy with which Christ inspires him. I hope that this same desire to enable every Christian believer to identify their gifts and calling, to be equipped to serve Christ wherever he has placed them, and so to grow to maturity in him has been the motivation behind much of my life’s work.