All full-time ordinands, regardless of their academic programme of study, engage with the Healthy Church Leadership Programme. The afternoon programme on the mid-week teaching day focuses on ordinands becoming more effective leaders of growing and healthy churches, church plants or pioneering missional initiatives. During these sessions, students integrate the academic theology they are studying with the experience gained from their ministry involvement, explore some of the more practical elements of ministry in the light of theology, prayer and listening to God, and examine specific issues of ministry and church practice and how we might exercise that wisely and well in the church today. Leadership development is more than just learning skills though – it also requires a focus on the sort of people we are becoming and so will consider issues of formation and openness to the work of the Spirit of Christ. Many of these sessions will involve experts and practitioners from the wider church who we bring in to share their experience and wisdom in ministry.
Most terms then have a specific theme which relates to one of the Formation Criteria for ordained ministry in the Church of England:
- Personality, Character and Relationships - character is a fundamental part of the leadership we offer. Sessions include examining and developing character, guarding your heart in leadership, pastoral skills, and resilience and conflict resolution;
- Spirituality and Worship (including preaching) - Sessions include input from a wide range of excellent preachers, sharing their advice and wisdom on this vital task, and some practical sessions on planning and leading worship. This strand also includes Preaching Practice, where students get the chance to give brief talks and sermons and get input and feedback from formation group tutors and peers.
- Leadership, Collaboration and Community – dependent on the programme of study, most full-time students undergo an intensive week of leadership formation at the residential week. The afternoon programme complements this with some practical input on leadership skills from key Christian leaders who share their experiences of ministry and leadership in the areas of understanding, stepping into and exercising church leadership, teams, developing leaders, finance and fundraising, communicating vision, change management, and PCCs, committees & meetings;
- Mission, Evangelism and Discipleship – these sessions look outwards and bring in practitioners to help students think about establishing a culture of mission in whatever context in which they find themselves ministering, whether in terms of context (e.g. rural, urban, suburban) and form of ministry (e.g. established church, church plant, missional community). There is also input here on church planting, discipleship and Youth Ministry.
Leavers' Programme – All students, whether in training for two or three years, follow the leavers’ programme in their final term. This includes sessions on communications (traditional and social media), a chance to hear from SMC alumni about their experiences serving in curacies, an afternoon for new training incumbents to visit the College, and the chance to hear from and put questions to a particularly experienced and influential church leader.
Those with us for three years also have the opportunity to take the following:
- Church Planting track and Pioneer track - This is an opportunity to take a term focussing on church planting or pioneer ministry. These sessions build on the theme of Mission and Evangelism and Discipleship from year 2. Again, we bring in practitioners and leaders from a range of contexts to envision and equip you for what God might want to do in whatever context he calls you to.
Overall our intention is that the programme will enable ordinands to flourish in the following three areas:
- The Life of a Leader – how we can develop in our personal and missional formation as leaders;
- Leading People - how as ordained leaders we can help other people to flourish around us;
- Leading Organisations – how we can effect change in churches, organisations and wider society.
All this is enabled and supplemented through:
- Formation Groups - where we try and draw together the academic teaching students receive with life and ministry experience and try to discern what God is doing and saying in and through their training. They will also provide staff and peer support, prayer and reflection.
- Housekeeping - including tutor-student interviews (particularly related to the writing of annual reports), supervisor day, and so on.