Thinking Anglicans

Clergy Flourishing

The Church of England has published the latest report from its Living Ministry project: Ministerial Effectiveness and Wellbeing: Exploring the flourishing of clergy and ordinands.

There is an accompanying press release, copied below.

New research findings published on clergy flourishing
05/12/2019

A new set of findings from a 10-year study into the well-being and flourishing of ordained ministers in the Church of England has been published today.

The Living Ministry programme tracks the progress of groups of clergy ordained in 2006, 2011 and 2015 and women and men who entered training for ordination in 2016, seeking to understand what helps clergy to flourish in ministry.

The latest research from the project includes responses from 579 ordained clergy and 113 people training for ordained ministry in the Church of England.

The quantitative study includes research into physical and mental, relational, financial and material and spiritual and vocational well-being as well as responses to questions about ministerial effectiveness.

The Rt Revd Dr Chris Goldsmith, Director of the Ministry Division of the Church of England said: “This 10-year programme is providing valuable long-term insights into the experiences of our ordained clergy from initial training and curacy and throughout ministry.

“The findings will help inform the dioceses and theological education colleges and courses in their vital work in the selection, formation and long-term support of ordained clergy.”

Dr Liz Graveling, who is overseeing the research programme for the Ministry Division, said: “I’m pleased to release this next stage of the Living Ministry research, which has allowed us to look in more depth at specific areas of clergy flourishing and start to build up a picture over time. As we follow our participants into the next chapter of their ministry, we are continuing to explore some of these themes in the ongoing qualitative work, which is due to report next year.”

Further information:

Living Ministry was set up in 2016 by the Church of England with the aim of helping support the dioceses, theological education institutions and national church in the selection, training and long-term support of clergy.

Living Ministry is a mixed-methods, longitudinal study. This report presents the findings of Wave 2 of the panel survey, which took place in early 2019. The survey built on the exploration of clergy wellbeing in Wave 1 (2017) by both monitoring this and including questions on ministerial effectiveness.

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Bernard SilvermanHelen KingSusannah ClarkStanley MonkhouseShamus Recent comment authors
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Shamus
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Shamus

The fact that no-one has commented on this says something, perhaps that the results are fairly unsurprising, and despite the detail, somewhat vague. Or it is a subject that doesn’t interest many? The term “Flourishing” has become much overused (almost as overused as “Mission”). I remind myself that Jesus “flourished” all the way to the Cross.

Stanley Monkhouse
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The results are at odds with anecdotal evidence, what I heard at chapter meetings or over coffee, or read on FB or discussion groups. People are wary of saying what they really think or feel for fear of consequences, real or imagined. Clerics may not wish to be seen or heard to “let the side down”, loyal dissent not being much valued. And it’s easy now for a TA contributor to pour scorn on this comment on the ground that I tend to be critical of hierarchies and institutions (which is indeed the case) and associate only with the like-minded… Read more »

Helen King
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Helen King

I suspect the lack of comments is itself a response. “The relationship between satisfaction with the training incumbent relationship and wellbeing was investigated using a series of Pearson product-moment correlation coefficients.” Super.

Bernard Silverman
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Bernard Silverman

Helen, and your point is?

Helen King
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Helen King

That this whole exercise seems unreal to me. Lots of unsurprising results, and expressed in jargon around self-assessing one’s ‘ministerial effectiveness’.

Stanley Monkhouse
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And a self-selected sample. When I was a medical scientist, I doubt this kind of stuff would have been tolerated even for a bachelor thesis. But think of the jobs it’s created.

Bernard Silverman
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Bernard Silverman

Indeed—even if you do the right sort of statistical analysis, it can only be as good as the data actually collected. If (as I think you suggest) the purpose of explaining the analysis is to “blind the reader with science” then the right thing to do is to explain the analysis in an appendix or footnote. But please don’t confuse a precise description of an analysis carried out (“correlation coefficients”) with what you accurately describe as “jargon around self-assessing one’s ‘ministerial effectiveness’”. It seems to me that measuring the “effectiveness” of anything like ministry is not at all straightforward—to say… Read more »

Helen King
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Helen King

It’s the sense of ‘oh look, we are doing proper analysis with statistics!’ combined with the subjective ‘do you think you are successful?’ questions which irritates me. Also the belief that increasing numbers means being effective. Oh yes, and indeed, how much it costs to produce a report like this, not forgetting the time of those who fill in the questionnaires. And what about those who left ministry in the cohorts being studied? Life is all so much more complicated than the current obsessions of the central C of E would suggest!

Bernard Silverman
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Bernard Silverman

Absolutely.

Susannah Clark
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Susannah Clark

Jargon? I had to use Google Translate to understand your opening quote.

It’s a really important subject though. Watching my own priest and the demands and the pressure, it does concern me how much we expect. It can be unreasonable and I worry for priests as human beings.