The paper examines the responses of Methodist Ministers to the policy of Ministerial Development Review (MDR). A case is made for research led policy making; of how important it is for the Church to pay attention to those affected by a policy, and to seek understanding of their responses from organisational perspectives. The research picks up on previous research by Professor Yvonne Guerrier working with Christopher Bond (Guerrier 2012, Guerrier and Bond 2013, Guerrier and Bond 2014).
The approach adopted in the research is based in a form of Grounded Theory (Strauss and Corbin 1998, Goulding 2002), in an attempt to hear voices of those involved. The schedule of the questions used in the semi structured interview was adapted from that used in Guerrier’s and Bond’s research. 13 in depth interviews were transcribed and themes identified using NVIVO, a tool for qualitative analysis.
The findings of the research in the first place confirm previous work of Bond and Guerrier, indicating complex feelings and thoughts around perceived managerial tasks. The specific responses to the policy of Ministerial Development Review are outlined in the report under the headings of: ‘appraisal and MDR’, ‘knowing what to do’, ‘finding support’. The results indicate a problem with the language of management and a wide breadth of opinion about MDR, its value and help. There also appears to be a difficulty with the relationship of an individual minister and the national Church expressed in terms of identity and a particular understanding of the Covenant relationship. The data shows an inconsistent and wide variety of approaches to how work priorities are set and support found underlining some of the reasons as to why MDR was originally implemented.
The paper suggests the need for further research that would include a more focused evaluation. Certain recommendations are made: a case for the Susanna Wesley Foundation, and for the need for policy makers to find ways of noticing how their policies have an impact on the lives they seek to support and help.