Dreams and Interpretations in Pastoral Ministry

A phenomenological analysis on beliefs about dreams and their interpretations in pastoral ministry among Anglican clergy

josh stenner

Josh Stenner, MTh Applied Theology

My name is Josh Stenner and I’m an ordinand and postgraduate student at Wycliffe Hall Oxford, studying a masters degree in Applied Theology (MTh). I was drawn to this course as I really wanted to explore how our theology is lived out in our various contexts.  Wycliffe Hall has been a great place to train for ordination as it supports pursuing our academic interests (with my focus in theology and psychology) with Christian character formation to grow as a disciple and witness to the world. There’s a great community here that combines Christian scholarship with our worship and spiritual engagement, most often encountered over the table at meal-times or at a morning coffee slot.

Having previously completed a postgraduate degree in psychology (MSc), I’ve been fascinated by dreams, interpretations and how the Holy Spirit might use them to speak to us, both back in the past and now in the present. Although there are many instances of God speaking to His people through dreams across the biblical narrative and into Church history, since the Enlightenment, with its supremacy of science and logic, the Church has largely disregarded dreams and ignored how God might speak to us in what might be a third of our entire lives - when we go to sleep. But does God speak only to our rational and conscious minds?

Only in the last few decades have theologians begun to wrestle with dreams and the contents of the unconscious again. For my own research, I am particularly interested in what Anglican clergy now believe about dreams, their potential interpretations and how they might be encountered in pastoral ministry. I am also interested in understanding how clergy go about ascribing meaning to their dream experiences, and what that might say, if anything, about revelation and the way God might speak to us now.

To offer theological reflection on this exciting subject, the insight of clergy across the spectrum of traditions would be incredibly valuable in exploring how dreams are experienced and encountered. To that end, I am looking to survey clergy via an online questionnaire with potential follow-up interviews that will form the bedrock data of this research project. If you are an Anglican priest or deacon, I would love to hear from you and your beliefs about dreams.

If you are happy and able to participate in this study, please read the attached information sheet (HERE) and complete the online questionnaire via this link:


If you’d like to get in touch with me personally to talk more about the project or more generally about this subject, please feel free to contact me at:


I hope to be able to present this work at a later stage in our graduate research seminars here at Wycliffe Hall, as well as in Churches and theological conferences in the future.