Five Minutes With: the Director of a Bible College (Robin Barden from Ridley Hall, Cambridge)

We’ve spent the last few weeks talking lots about the Ridley Lay Ministry course at Ridley Hall in Cambridge: we were invited to partner with Ridley to share our thoughts about the course, and to chat about my experience of studying there. While these are sponsored posts, I jumped at the opportunity: my experience at Ridley was one of the most important, formative times of my career – so I was thrilled to have the chance to shout about how great the course is.

I was not the kid who ever thought they would go to university – I just about made it through school and sixth form, and then I was done with being in a classroom. But when I did an internship year and realized that I needed to take this calling into youth work and ministry seriously, the idea of studying at Ridley came up – and I am so glad that I went for it.

Today we had the chance to catch five minutes with the busiest man in the world – Robin heads up the course here at RLM, and has been a huge influence in my life, and many other students who have passed through Ridley. This guy has got some wisdom, and it was a pleasure to sit down with him today:


Hey Robin! Thanks for catching some time with us in the middle of a pretty busy day. What are you up to today?

To be honest, no two days are the same. But if you’re asking what else I have in my diary today – apart from us meeting (the highlight, of course!), I will be catching up with colleagues, talking to partners (churches, diocese’s etc), chatting with the Principal, answering student queries and, of course, endless emails!


That’s a cool job! How did you end up here?

Well back in the day, I studied youth work and theology as a mature (26 year old) student! I had volunteered in church since I was 16, but it was when my church employed me as their first paid youth worker that the opportunity to study at Ridley came about.

After graduating I worked in a prison, a local faith charity and as a Social Work Practice teacher, but I also managed to get seconded one day a week to Ridley as a part-time lecturer and gradually went from there!

The vision for RLM came from my long held belief that all ministerial posts within churches should be recognized as equal. This not only requires us to provide good quality theological and ministerial education for everyone going into ministry – whatever their ministry – but also to ensure it is recognized as on-a-par with minister or vicar training.

Providing the same theological training as vicars while ensuring that students have the opportunity to really apply this into their area of specialism enables us to do this. Our dream is for children, family, youth, pioneer ministers to be working in the church with the same recognition, opportunities and pay as vicars or ministers!


Who would you say should consider looking at studying at RLM?

There are a number of colleges out there and it is always good to look at more than one – prayer is everything!

But if you feel called to children, family, youth or pioneer ministry (or other!) we could be right for you. It doesn’t matter what church tradition you come from and we have a number of partner organizations offering amazing placement opportunities, so you don’t even need to have a placement – just give us a call/email, book an open day or come and visit!


What’s your favourite part of the course, and of the Ridley experience?

It’s got to be seeing students transformed and hearing stories of how God has worked through them to transform the lives of others – even whole communities! It’s not uncommon for us to be left with tears in our eyes – the emotion is real!


What do you wish you had known when you were starting off working with people, and in ministry?

God’s got this!


What are you excited about – what’s coming up for RLM?

We have a number of developments in the pipeline: Ridley London has just come online, which provides more accessible training for people from London.

We are starting to think about sports ministry more deeply and we have some ideas around supporting Christian entrepreneurs! Whatever happens, we will always be reflecting on the course and looking to improve it for next year.


How to Find Out More:

The Ridley Lay Ministry course (called CYM back in the day) was the course that I studied right at the beginning of my ministry – if you are even beginning to think about a calling into ministry and mission, I would highly recommend having a look.

The RLM Website is the best place to start – give them a call or an email to get the conversation started, book in to an open day or go for a visit.


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