Book Reviews Church of England & Ministry

Being Reverend by Matt Woodcock – Book Review

In Matt’s first book Becoming Reverend he quipped:

…I’ll be a force for positive change in the Church of England, but could end up defrocked by my second year.

Thankfully for us he wasn’t and the fruits of his early years post-ordination are here for us all to read in Being Reverend, the follow up diary. Like his first book, Being Reverend gives an open, honest, hilarious and sometimes cringeworthy look at Matt’s daily life – in ministry in the Church of England; as husband to Anna; and father to their two daughters. An easy read, it will have you laughing out loud, sympathising with his wife, will bring warmth to your heart and perhaps surprise you with an occasional moving moment.

There is no doubt Matt is a funny guy and coupled with stories from ministry life (which most vicars will tell you can sometimes be a bit bonkers) this book makes for hilarious reading. There were so many laugh out loud moments in this book I kept my husband awake sniggering along while reading in bed. Whether you are a church goer or not, the real-life stories of Matt and others are hugely entertaining.

I imagine there will be some who read Being Reverend and wonder what on earth the church is coming to – I mean, a beer festival in the church? heaven forbid! But whatever you might feel about the reverence of a church or its style of worship, Matt’s love of Christ and his church, is entrenched in the pages of this book. His passion to see lives transformed by God and to see the church alive with joy is truly infectious. If he preaches like he writes I bet his sermons are ace.

Much as he jokes about it, I wonder if Matt secretly enjoys not fitting the vicar mould, being a beer-drinking-football-playing-ex-journalist, or as he notes: ‘I’m Sky Sports and Oasis in a world of Radio 4 and Shostakovich’. But there’s an obvious depth to Matt’s faith which is perhaps unexpected and warm. Dropped in from time to time throughout the book are nuggets of wisdom from Larkin, Caravaggio, Sister Cecilia – his spiritual guide, and others. Matt writes touchingly about the hard stuff too – the pressures, the emotional toll, heart breaking encounters, and the reality for the whole family –the battle with keeping a good work-life balance is obvious throughout. Having just written myself about life as a ministry mum, it’s interesting to see the other side from a ministry dad. 

Being Reverend is a book filled with love. Matt’s love for his wife and family is evident and touching. His love of the church, even in tough times, is inspiring and encouraging. And, above all, his love for Jesus clearly shines off the pages and is so apparent with the people he meets. 

Being Reverend is out now, published by Church House Publishing, priced £9.99

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