Reimagining Ministerial Formation

The Church is currently experiencing a transition in the way it understands and practises both mission and ministry. It is to be outward-looking, engaging with the wider community, involving all its members in mission and clergy are to play the role of enablers and equippers of the ministry of the whole church.

However, ministerial formation in colleges and courses throughout the country lags behind this emerging consensus. ‘Theological education’ is still largely based on academic models.

Reimagining Ministerial Formation offers a new way forward, where ‘ministry’ comes to be about the whole church, and ministerial formation is about collaboration between clergy and laity. It argues strongly for a shift away from ‘front-loaded’ training, to a new focus on formation as a life-long process.

Endorsements from around the world

This is a magnificent book which is a timely, imaginative, grounded and prophetic contribution to re-imagining ministerial formation.  Timely because it speaks directly into a church which is committed to placing discipleship at the heart of its life and especially at the heart of its ministerial formation.  Imaginative in painting a picture of what good lifelong formation might look like and the kinds of structures which might enable it.  Grounded through the rich experience of the author, who has devoted a lifetime to this kingdom learning from within the context of his ministry in parish, Diocesan and ministerial formation contexts.  Prophetic in drawing in much overlooked capacities such as emotional intelligence into the centre of the formational process and giving real substance to what that might look like in a formational curriculum. 

Ian McIntosh, Head of Formation for the Church of England

Arm yourself with courage before you read this book and find yourself filled with hope. In the third of his ‘trilogy’ ­– Reimagining Ministry, Kingdom Learning and now Reimagining Ministerial Formation – Heywood takes up recent initiatives in the life of the Church of England and questions what taking each of them seriously might really mean. Who are the ministers and what do we mean by formation? Working his way through these questions in relation to clericalism, theological education, everyday discipleship, life-long learning, collaborative ministry and missional discipleship, Heywood tackles these with a fearless clarity of thought combined with the empathy of someone who brings a life time of experience and reflection about these areas of the Church’s life.  In prophetic style, Heywood offers sharp analysis and critique together with the wisdom of Christ-centred faith and the phronesis of a practitioner. Whether you are a theological educator, a bishop, clergy person, a lay church leader or a follower of Jesus who longs to see God’s church flourish, this book offers a hopeful and practical vision. I hope that many will read it and have the courage to act on it.

Eeva John, Enabling Officer, Living in Love and Faith

We still have much to learn about what it means to be formed into a Church of disciples who are gathered and sent, such that our gathered worship strengthens and forms every person to be sent out to live their faith in everyday life. This book raises vital questions about what needs to be addressed, not least in how the formation of clergy needs to be strongly focused from the outset on enabling all baptised followers of Christ of every age to be formed and transformed as everyday disciples, Sunday to Saturday. I found the book refreshing and heartening.

Rachel Treweek, Bishop of Gloucester

This is an important and timely book from a seasoned theologian full of practical wisdom. David Heywood unfolds with lucidity and wisdom a new paradigm for ministerial formation. In doing so he provides a clear and informed assessment of the current situation and problems associated with the prevailing academic and skills-based approach to theological education. Heywood offers a more integrative, practical and mission focussed approach to formation for the local church. This book will be of immense value for those involved in the development of ministry formation programs and all who seek to serve the mission of God as disciples of Christ.

Stephen Pickard, Executive Director, Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture and author of Theological Foundations for Collaborative Ministry

In this excellent and challenging book, David Heywood builds on his earlier studies that examined how ministry might be reimagined and shaped by the learning dynamic of the Kingdom of God.  Reimagining Ministerial Formation offers hope in its call for a life-long wholistic engagement with reflective learning.  It doesn’t just offer the Church hope, it has potential to transform the landscape of higher education too.

Helen-Ann Hartley, Bishop of Ripon and formerly co-principal of St John’s College, Auckland

The processes by which women and men are prepared for ordained Christian ministry have changed dramatically over recent decades, but there is so much further to travel, away from training that focused too heavily upon the acquisition of academic knowledge and towards the whole of life discipleship that forms people after the character of Christ. Central to this are the creating of communities of practice and the forming of godly habits, and David Heywood shows with clarity and imagination how this can be developed further in his own Church of England. It is, however, an ecumenical task, vital for each church that forms women and men for participation in the mission of the church and this book will have wide appeal for many traditions.

Paul Goodliff, General Secretary, Churches Together in England

David Heywood has written a wise, nuanced and thoughtful book which will enrich the debate about ministerial formation in the next season of the life of the Church of England. It should be the blueprint for the future of ministerial education.

Mandy Ford, Dean of Bristol and formerly interim Director of Ministry for the Church of England

Built on the firm foundation of decades of teaching and research this book identifies barriers and blocks to formation of the whole people of God and offers generative solutions for transforming our paradigm and practices in this. I thoroughly recommend it to all who are concerned with being a church of missionary disciples.

Nick Shepherd, Programme Director for Setting God’s People Free

I have long believed with David Heywood that ministerial formation in the Church of England (and by extension much more widely) is not fit for purpose. I hope this book, drawing as it does on years of experience, real world research and extensive literature, will act like a ‘good virus’ to infect our Churches with a vision of what is possible in the formation of the whole people of God so that they can participate in the mission of God. I trust that it will be read, reflected and acted on by Church leaders and theological educators right across this land and many others.

Nigel Rooms, Leader of Partnership for Missional Church UK and Editor of Practical Theology

This book presents us with a compelling vision for a formation that is missional and outward looking.  Backed up with solid scholarship and stories emerging from data, Heywood offers an approach to formation for ministry that is life-long, rooted in the local and every-day nature of our faith, collaborative, experiential and supported by learning cohorts that embed diversity.  It is an approach that is real, workable and long overdue.  I warmly commend this book to theological educators and all who wish to take their own formation seriously.

Cathy Ross, Head of Pioneer Mission Leadership, CMS Oxford

David Heywood presents a vision of ministerial formation that makes my heart sing: aimed at the discipling of the whole church in a variety of ministries for the sake of God’s kingdom, it is local, contextual, accessible to all, holistic, non-hierarchical, and gloriously every-day. With a cornerstone of theological reflection, collaborative and individual, and keeping the goal of emotionally intelligent, pastorally imaginative and wise practitioners in mind, his vision presents a coherent argument and a compelling call to all involved in shaping the future of learning in the church. 

Tina Hodgett, Evangelism and Pioneer Team Leader, Diocese of Bath and Wells

David Heywood’s book is timely. The cracks in the system and its effectiveness, let alone its cost are showing. The book speaks to many issues: the need to make theological reflection a core discipline and practice, training together of lay and people for licensed ministries, the danger of training an elite, centring on Christian practices rather than intellectual subjects, questioning the efficacy of frontloading of education, training as timely rather than all at the beginning. As such it opens up a rather closed debate about the current provision of theological education and suggests a new path for the future.

Phillip Tovey, Principal of the Oxford Local Ministry Pathway

There has long been the temptation for the pragmatic to win out and for the theological to be downplayed, yet more than ever we need a careful and theological discussion of what we mean by ministry in its broadest sense and of the various contribution of theological colleges and courses. In this book David offers us a clear and accessible route through these vital issues. It is a book I welcome enormously. As someone who for the last fifteen years has been responsible for the preparation of ministers in a Baptist college context and has oversight of the college’s work in what is often called ‘lay training’, there is a real sense that we have been on the same journey.

Anthony Clarke, Senior Tutor, Regents Park College, Oxford

I welcome David Heywood’s vision of a new theoretical and practical paradigm for ministerial formation.  There can be few authors as well qualified to write on this topic, not only by the depth of their study and reflection, but also through their practical experience of teaching and ministry. David’s book deserves to be taken seriously by all those in the churches who are concerned with ‘theological education’, with reuniting discipleship and ministry, or with the connection that lies at the heart of true Christian learning between our human experience and the resources of the gospel.

Jeff Astley, Honorary Professor in the Department of Theology and Religion, Durham University

This is a well researched book which draws on a wide range of contexts to root the discussion in practice and the footnotes show the breadth and depth of sources engaged with allowing follow up for those who wish to delve more deeply into particular aspects.  I commend this book to anyone wanting to reflect on formation and training for mission, ministry and whole life discipleship.

Sally Nash, Theological Educator and Researcher