Innovation at Ridley Hall: A Conversation with Robin Barden
Ridley has always been a place where innovative ideas are applied to the meet the needs of the Church. This core value is now recognised in the appointment of Robin Barden as Director of Innovation. We spoke to him about his work and his vision for the new role.
Q: Robin, can you tell us about your role as Director of Innovation?
My focus is on delivering innovation in training without losing the excellence of what we do. My first involvement with Ridley was with a youth ministry programme which I then developed into our current Ridley Lay Ministry programme, introducing block weeks and other innovations. More recently, we established a teaching centre in London which has evolved and been developed to provide dedicated online teaching (see Ridley Online).
Q: What’s the latest innovation that you have been working on?
Our most recent innovation has been the launch of the Ridley Awards. It’s a completely new way for us to do training online. The aim of the Awards is to help our students become more confident in sharing the gospel. We don’t tell our students how to do ministry, rather we encourage them to think for themselves, and build confidence in what they are doing and in the decisions they are making. Our students develop ideas in the contexts they are working in; they learn from what has gone before, but also to develop their own approach to ministry.
Q: The first Ridley Award focuses on sports ministry. Why did you pick this aspect of ministry to start with?
We chose sports ministry because practitioners in this area were asking us to fill a gap between resources that can be downloaded from the internet, and formal training that requires a substantial commitment of time and resources.
Q: So your approach focuses on listening to the needs of the Church rather than just thinking up ideas yourself?
That’s right. The ideas I am working with are not just my own. I look for needs that are being expressed by stakeholders from across the Church. When I hear of a need from different sources, I start to think about how to develop a solution to meet it. The whole process, from a need and an idea to a solution, may take years of effort, time and commitment from external partners and from colleagues within the college.