Becoming Reverend
Matt Woodcock, CHP, 2016

£9.99 (Approx)
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What does it say on the tin?

Becoming a vicar seems a long shot. Becoming a dad will take a miracle.

Matt Woodcock’s frank, funny real-life diaries reveal what it was like for him to train as a vicar while struggling against all odds to become a father. In them he lays bare his joys and struggles as he attempts to reconcile his calling as a vicar with his life a s a part-loving journalist, footy-freak and incorrigible extrovert.

Becoming Reverend is a compelling and original account of how faith can work in the midst of a messy life, combing family, fertility, faith and friendship with the story of a divine – but unlikely – calling.

What do you get?

Paperback book plus online, downloadable discussion guide. Latter comprises 3 A4 sheets for group discussion:

  • Prologue – 2 questions
  • Year One – 5 questions
  • Year Two – 17 questions
  • Year Three – 8 questions

Also available as a Kindle book, and an audiobook, read by Woodcock, via amazon.

Who is it for?

Adult, small groups, beginning, enquiring, growing. Older youth would appreciate it too.


  • What is the overall quality of material presentation?

    Entertaining and unique opportunity to delve into the world of the ‘trainee vicar'.

    How clear are its aims and outcomes?

    The downloadable questions seem a bit of an afterthought rather than integral to the book; however, they do encourage further explorations of the issues raised. Like the book, they are well pitched to appeal to both Christians and others interested.

    How accessible are the leader's notes?

    Just the A4 sheets with introduction and questions. These are divided into four sections, but Prologue and Year One would work well together for one session. Woodcock is a former journalist so the book is well written and entertaining. Looking on the website will help you decide if this resource will suit your group.

    Who could lead it?

    Any group member with a bit of experience of leading.

    How helpful are the participants' resources?

    The book is easy to read, unusual and enjoyable. Its self-deprecating style will draw readers in, and make them laugh. Woodcock's situation may be specific, but most of the issues raised are common to us all.

    How good is any digital material?

    Some brief videos on the website, which are, like the book, generally entertaining and inviting. See below.

    How much prep will I have to do?

    Read the book! Decide how many sessions to do – three would probably be about right.

    Is there website support? Links? is in one way a book promotion site, but also includes the videos – both of Woodcock introducing the topics of the book, and animated versions of the same. Some extra questions and thoughts here under the tabs: Faith, Friendship, Marriage, Fertility, Calling. Link to for further help and interest.

  • How well does it encourage interaction with the group?

    This would be up to the leader to enable. There is no material or structure apart from the book and the questions. Latter should provoke honest and good discussion.

    How well does it cater for a variety of both learning and delivery styles?

    As above – just the book and the questions, so the group would need to be one that enjoyed that; or the leader would need to put some other elements in to the time.

    How adaptable is it to my situation?

    Woodcock wrote the book to be accessible to ‘those who know and love the Church, and for those who don't', and has generally succeeded in his aim. His overall surprise in finding himself studying to be a minister is reflected in his attitude to the journey, so his writing is down-to-earth and ‘normal'. For those considering becoming a minister, this book will of course be extremely relevant, and contribute to the deliberations. Looking on the website will help you decide if this resource will suit your group.

    How well does it encourage people to work together in applying the material?

    Questions should encourage honesty and good personal reflection; any ongoing application would be up to the group and the individual.

  • How much of the material is Bible-based?

    Woodcock is studying theology so refers both to broad concepts and specifics, scattered throughout the narrative.

    How well is the biblical material presented and used?

    Woodcock uses a light approach, but refers to the challenges of biblical study as well as how the word of God is alive and active in his life.

    How well does it apply biblical material to everyday life?

    Honest and helpful interaction with biblical concepts and texts, as Woodcock wrestles with life's ups and downs.

    Is there a particular theological perspective?

    Broadly evangelical.

  • How well does it inspire people towards whole-life discipleship?

    Despite the fact that not many group members will be in Woodcock's situation of theological study and ‘vicar training', there is plenty of material in his life that is common to most of us.

    How well does it encourage and enable people to grow in their faith?

    Hopefully this book will raise helpful questions for those who are not yet Christians, and for Christians, alike.

    How well does it stretch faith and vision of God and his purposes?

    Woodcock invites us in to his experience of wrestling with his faith and its implications, which helpfully raises issues we can engage with as well.

    How well does it connect with real life issues?

    Though his ordination journey is specific, Woodcock writes about it in ‘human' and relatable-to ways. His various personal and family trials are some that many will share.

  • How well does it encourage personal evangelism?

    This is a passion of Woodcock's which comes across clearly and should inspire.

    How well does it encourage local or network-based community involvement?

    Lots of examples of this in Woodcock's life and ministry, both through the book and the website.

    How well does it connect with global issues?

    Not a particular focus.

    How well does it encourage global mission?

    Implicit but not a focus.

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