Friday, 19 December 2014

Dear Lord Green

Thank you for your report which makes interesting reading indeed and get one thinking. here are my thoughts:

i. The Church is only as effective as the people on the ground and this means equipping and releasing laity and those engaged with the people around them (i.e. parochial clergy) but what I am seeing is a 'top down' and hierarchical structure that would be the pride of any corporate entity I have worked in or with. What this reports appears to be seeking is a Lee Iacocca or Steve Jobs at the top who is surrounded by an inner guard of alumni. A visionary and bold explorer who will be the subject of conversations and songs of praise from the workforce as they sit around the fire. BUT we already have this in the person of Jesus, the Christ.

ii. Agents of change are found not in the corporate headquarters but on the ground where the money and workers are few and the need is at its greatest - but this is also where the weaknesses of the CofE are best seen - for the pointy hats and the diocesan hordes often don't have a scooby about the real needs. My fear is that this report, albeit well intended, will do nothing to change things and will merely breed a bunch of experts who know how to turn of the lights and pull the plug on the ventilator maintaining the life of many churches!

iii. Working in an Urban Priority setting of Church, although we are broke and struggle to win souls, we have seen many come to faith and progress towards lay and ordained ministry over the past few years. People who will probably never enter the 'training pool' or be elevated to senior office but many of them will be soul winners and life changers nonetheless; and it is the pastorally engaged and able rather than the managerially enhanced who will save the CofE from extinction! What makes it worse is that some of those who are able and would serve the Church well will never be in to comfortable position of being able to swim in the pool and minister to those around them - and so elitism and preferment and the reward of being a 'have' becomes a reality.

iv. Having been engaged in Industrial Engineering, change management and real life delivery of customer-facing teams (management and building) I am aware that knowledge of processes and procedures is helpful but, at the point of delivery, quite useless if the conditions on the ground are not fully understood. Take for instance a soldier who has operational tours and the Army under his belt and progresses through to what we used to call a 'late entry' commission. These people combine ability, experience and subsequent training to make them superb senior officers (as many who are now in 'one str' roles so ably demonstrate). This is what we need - not giving the privileged and able more whilst those ho have little are given less.

v. Noting use of the term 'absolute standards' I would have hoped that rather than refer to academic veracity the standards would be those required of us as Christians, for I fear that I have read little to make me think we will be building a spiritual house for the bishops to reside in at this rate. What we are looking at is the pursuit of excellence; a place where performance and knowledge is all but what we need is flatter structures where we perhaps have business managers to do the nuts and bolts and bishops and others engaged in pastoring the pastors, preaching the word and being people of God. For, and I quote from the same ordinal the report quotes:

'Bishops are ordained to be shepherds of Christ’s flock and guardians of the faith of the apostles, proclaiming the Gospel of God’s kingdom and leading his people in mission...With the Shepherd’s love, they are to be merciful, but with firmness; to minister discipline, but with compassion.' Bishops are called to exercise authority 'to heal, not to hurt; to build up, not to destroy.'

In the light of the report perhaps we should modify it to:

Bishops are not called to be regional managers but pastors proclaiming the Gospel and, by visibly living it, to proclaim it and set others on fire for, through and for it so that the Gospel might be seen to be authoritative, attractive and compelling. They are to maintain order and discipline with humility, understanding and compassion - to 'heal and not hurt' to 'build up and not destroy' and to 'draw on ministry experience, not academe or books alone but, to advise and model'

Now what's so blesséd difficult about that? Why are we looking at entering the corporate when what we need it to proclaim the spiritual for goodness sakes?

Now I know that I am a cleric with a limited grasp of things and consider myself fortunate to be considered worthy to wear a dog collar and to shepherd people analog the road to the cross. I have no ambitions to enter the pool because I know I'd drown as soon as enter it for and I have no axe to grind because I'm a shepherd, not a woodcutter.

But as much as I applaud the 'Finding Talent' report for trying to address the woeful managerial, pastoral, organisational and (sadly) spiritual elements of those in senior ministry - I think we are in danger of exchanging our priestly birthright for a mess of management and business modelled pottage. We need to keep the management training and accentuate the theological and spiritual.

I submit this as my thinking with due respect for my senior clergy colleagues - for I am not trying to hit out at them - and in Christian love for the church of which I am privileged to serve.

Morning Prayer - 20 December 14

Psalm 144
Blessed be the Lord my rock, who teaches my hands for war and my fingers for battle; My steadfast help and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield in whom I trust, who subdues the peoples under me.

O Lord, what are mortals that you should consider them; mere human beings, that you should take thought for them? They are like a breath of wind; their days pass away like a shadow. Bow your heavens, O Lord, and come down; touch the mountains and they shall smoke. Cast down your lightnings and scatter them; shoot out your arrows and let thunder roar. Reach down your hand from on high; deliver me and take me out of the great waters, from the hand of foreign enemies, Whose mouth speaks wickedness and their right hand is the hand of falsehood.

O God, I will sing to you a new song; I will play to you on a ten-stringed harp, You that give salvation to kings and have delivered David your servant. Save me from the peril of the sword and deliver me from the hand of foreign enemies, Whose mouth speaks wickedness and whose right hand is the hand of falsehood; So that our sons in their youth may be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters like pillars carved for the corners of the temple; Our barns be filled with all manner of store; our flocks bearing thousands, and ten thousands in our fields; Our cattle be heavy with young:  may there be no miscarriage or untimely birth, no cry of distress in our streets.

Happy are the people whose blessing this is. Happy are the people who have the Lord for their God.

Psalm 146
Alleluia.
Praise the Lord, O my soul: while I live will I praise the Lord; as long as I have any being, I will sing praises to my God.

Put not your trust in princes, nor in any human power, for there is no help in them. When their breath goes forth, they return to the earth; on that day all their thoughts perish. Happy are those who have the God of Jacob for their help, whose hope is in the Lord their God; Who made heaven and earth,
the sea and all that is in them; who keeps his promise for ever; Who gives justice to those that suffer wrong and bread to those who hunger.

The Lord looses those that are bound;
the Lord opens the eyes of the blind;
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous;
The Lord watches over the stranger in the land; he upholds the orphan and widow; but the way of the wicked he turns upside down.
The Lord shall reign for ever,  your God, O Zion, throughout all generations.
Alleluia.

Isaiah 51.17-end
Rouse yourself, rouse yourself! Stand up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk at the hand of the Lord the cup of his wrath, who have drunk to the dregs the bowl of staggering. There is no one to guide her among all the children she has borne; there is no one to take her by the hand among all the children she has brought up. These two things have befallen you—who will grieve with you?—devastation and destruction, famine and sword—who will comfort you? Your children have fainted, they lie at the head of every street like an antelope in a net; they are full of the wrath of the Lord, the rebuke of your God.

Therefore hear this, you who are wounded, who are drunk, but not with wine: Thus says your Sovereign, the Lord, your God who pleads the cause of his people: See, I have taken from your hand the cup of staggering; you shall drink no more from the bowl of my wrath. And I will put it into the hand of your tormentors, who have said to you,
‘Bow down, that we may walk on you’; and you have made your back like the ground and like the street for them to walk on.

2 Thessalonians 3
Finally, brothers and sisters, pray for us, so that the word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be glorified everywhere, just as it is among you, and that we may be rescued from wicked and evil people; for not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you are doing and will go on doing the things that we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.
Now we command you, beloved, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from believers who are living in idleness and not according to the tradition that they received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, and we did not eat anyone’s bread without paying for it; but with toil and labour we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you. This was not because we do not have that right, but in order to give you an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat. For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. Brothers and sisters, do not be weary in doing what is right.

Take note of those who do not obey what we say in this letter; have nothing to do with them, so that they may be ashamed. Do not regard them as enemies, but warn them as believers.
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in all ways. The Lord be with all of you.

I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. This is the mark in every letter of mine; it is the way I write. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all of you.

The Collect
O Lord Jesus Christ, who at your first coming sent your messenger to prepare your way before you: grant that the ministers and stewards of your mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready your way by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at your second coming to judge the world we may be found an acceptable people in your sight; for you are alive and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

One last school Christmas event

Having reached the end of the journey with the 'Finding Talent' report I am now free to read what others have said on it but there is something of more merit, of more joy and of more encouragement for me as a bit of a low key cleric - the penultimate school service of the Christmas period!

Tonight I will be celebrating Christmas with one of our local schools and as this nears:

I have to say that I have been blessed by tiny children singing 'Glory to God' and telling the age old nativity story through fresh eyes (the eyes of a 'Stable Rat').

I have done Christingle services with children and had the joy of seeing them pass by on their way home with their glowstick 'Christ lights' shining in the darkness (please Lord, may it shine in their homes and in the lives of all who enter them).

I have prayed, read Bible passages, blessed and sung my heart out in the old familiar carols.

I have sung strange songs from foreign lands and been challenged by people who wanted to substitute 'Father' when speaking of God for the term 'Mother' (and one person even wanted God as an 'it'!).

I have endured folk religion and struggled with odd understanding relating to God and His Son, Jesus, the Christ (and not all of it was from the clergy ;-) )

BUT

I have to say that Jesus, the blesséd babe of Bethlehem has shone through and I want to express my Christmas wishes to each and every person who passes by this place of madness that is my blog. So I thought I'd wish each and every one of you a blessed and peaceful Christmas and give thanks for Mary's 'Yes' - God made flesh - Immanuel.


video



Finding Talent: The Pool and a Plea

So who's going to be in the 'Talent Pool' then?

The report tells us that the programme is to offered to 'a small number of outstanding individuals'. These will be people who have consistently delivered high quality stuff over a 'sustained' period of time. Time in the pool is limited (five years being cited as average duration) and staying in the pool will be determined by making the grades and fulfilling the potential that got them in.

This is not as bad as many are viewing it because there's no point in trying to polish a brick but there is plenty of point in polishing something that is gold. There is also the fact that whilst there are many clergy out there who are trying (and some are very trying) there are few who are consistently hitting the spot and producing the goods and where this is seen (hopefully regardless of school and university background) it will be acted upon with an offer of time in the pool!

This is going to be something of a high inertial load with regard to the loading of the programme and the report envisages that once running there will be around thirty people a year effectively graduating and these will form an 'alumni' who will mentor, coach and act as role models. Once in the pool the training will be tailored and include a degree of inductive learning (which these courses always have). I am intrigued to see how those selected will be able to spend time in the pool and continue their day job.

What this report is really saying is that we have a number of people in senior and influential roles within the Church of England who are effectively not fit for purpose and this 'finding talent' exercise is about replacing them with people who understand structures, organisations and management; and can bring them to bear in the organisation. This has to be good, especially when things like 'conduct meaningful MDRs' appears on the menu because effective, helpful and meaningful they are not (if those I talk with are being honest - and I suspect they are)! 

The continuing their day job elements leads me to think that many of those who are loaded onto the course will not be parish clergy. My thinking for this is that those who are hidden within the cathedrals and diocesan and national church roles are those who can step back without major impact; something that is not the case for a minister in a parish setting, especially when they are effectively already overworked or highly engaged such that they will be noticed! Here begins my concerns that 'elitist' and 'jobs for the boys' will begin to bite.


The problems I can see (as a bear of extremely limited brain) are:

i. The Church is only as effective as the people on the ground and this means equipping and releasing laity and those engaged with the people around them (i.e. parochial clergy) but what I am seeing is a 'top down' and hierarchical structure that would be the pride of any corporate entity I have worked in or with. What this reports appears to be seeking is a Lee Iacocca or Steve Jobs at the top who is surrounded by an inner guard of alumni. A visionary and bold explorer who will be the subject of conversations and songs of praise from the workforce as they sit around the fire. BUT we already have this in the person of Jesus, the Christ.

ii. Agents of change are found not in the corporate headquarters but on the ground where the money and workers are few and the need is at its greatest - but this is also where the weaknesses of the CofE are best seen - for the pointy hats and the diocesan hordes often don't have a scooby about the real needs. My fear is that this report, albeit well intended, will do nothing to change things and will merely breed a bunch of experts who know how to turn of the lights and pull the plug on the ventilator maintaining the life of many churches!

iii. Working in an Urban Priority setting of Church, although we are broke and struggle to win souls, we have seen many come to faith and progress towards lay and ordained ministry over the past few years. People who will probably never enter the 'training pool' or be elevated to senior office but many of them will be soul winners and life changers nonetheless; and it is the pastorally engaged and able rather than the managerially enhanced who will save the CofE from extinction! What makes it worse is that some of those who are able and would serve the Church well will never be in to comfortable position of being able to swim in the pool and minister to those around them - and so elitism and preferment and the reward of being a 'have' becomes a reality.

iv. Having been engaged in Industrial Engineering, change management and real life delivery of customer-facing teams (management and building) I am aware that knowledge of processes and procedures is helpful but, at the point of delivery, quite useless if the conditions on the ground are not fully understood. Take for instance a soldier who has operational tours and the Army under his belt and progresses through to what we used to call a 'late entry' commission. These people combine ability, experience and subsequent training to make them superb senior officers (as many who are now in 'one str' roles so ably demonstrate). This is what we need - not giving the privileged and able more whilst those ho have little are given less.

v. Noting use of the term 'absolute standards' I would have hoped that rather than refer to academic veracity the standards would be those required of us as Christians, for I fear that I have read little to make me think we will be building a spiritual house for the bishops to reside in at this rate. What we are looking at is the pursuit of excellence; a place where performance and knowledge is all but what we need is flatter structures where we perhaps have business managers to do the nuts and bolts and bishops and others engaged in pastoring the pastors, preaching the word and being people of God. For, and I quote from the same ordinal the report quotes:

'Bishops are ordained to be shepherds of Christ’s flock and guardians of the faith of the apostles, proclaiming the Gospel of God’s kingdom and leading his people in mission...With the Shepherd’s love, they are to be merciful, but with firmness; to minister discipline, but with compassion.' Bishops are called to exercise authority 'to heal, not to hurt; to build up, not to destroy.'

Bishops are not called to be regional managers but pastors proclaiming the Gospel and, by visibly living it, to proclaim it and set others on fire for, through and for it so that the Gospel might be seen to be authoritative, attractive and compelling. They are to maintain order and discipline with humility, understanding and compassion - to 'heal and not hurt' to 'build up and not destroy' and to 'draw on experience, not books alone, to advise and model'

Now what's so blesséd difficult about that? Why are we looking at entering the corporate when what we need it to proclaim the spiritual for goodness sakes?

Now I know that I am a cleric with a limited grasp of things and consider myself fortunate to be considered worthy to wear a dog collar and to shepherd people analog the road to the cross. I have no ambitions to enter the pool because I know I'd drown as soon as enter it for and I have no axe to grind because I'm a shepherd, not a woodcutter.

But as much as I applaud the 'Finding Talent' report for trying to address the woeful managerial, pastoral, organisational and (sadly) spiritual elements of those in senior ministry - I think we are in danger of exchanging our priestly birthright for a mess of management and business modelled pottage.

I submit this as my thinking with due respect for my senior clergy colleagues - for I am not trying to hit out at them - and in Christian love for the church of which I am privileged to serve.

It's rough and scribbled on the hoof - done between carol services, communions, Christingles and counselling - it's probably full of typos and grammatical collisions as edits conspire to add to the confusion that is me. But it is honest and hopeful;.

May God bless us all :-)

Morning Prayer - 18 December 14

Psalm 76
In Judah God is known; his name is great in Israel. At Salem is his tabernacle, and his dwelling place in Zion. There broke he the flashing arrows of the bow, the shield, the sword and the weapons of war. In the light of splendour you appeared, glorious from the eternal mountains.

The boastful were plundered; they have slept their sleep; none of the warriors can lift their hand. At your rebuke, O God of Jacob, both horse and chariot fell stunned. Terrible are you in majesty: who can stand before your face when you are angry?

You caused your judgement to be heard from heaven; the earth trembled and was still, When God arose to judgement, to save all the meek upon earth. You crushed the wrath of the peoples and bridled the wrathful remnant.

Make a vow to the Lord your God and keep it; let all who are round about him bring gifts to him that is worthy to be feared. He breaks down the spirit of princes and strikes terror in the kings of the earth.

Psalm 97
The Lord is king: let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of the isles be glad. Clouds and darkness are round about him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Fire goes before him and burns up his enemies on every side. His lightnings lit up the world; the earth saw it and trembled.
The mountains melted like wax at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.
The heavens declared his righteousness and all the peoples have seen his glory.
Confounded be all who worship carved images and delight in mere idols. Bow down before him, all you gods. Zion heard and was glad, and the daughters of Judah rejoiced, because of your judgements, O Lord. For you, Lord, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.

The Lord loves those who hate evil; he preserves the lives of his faithful and delivers them from the hand of the wicked. Light has sprung up for the righteous and joy for the true of heart. Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name.

Isaiah 51.9-16
Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord!
Awake, as in days of old, the generations of long ago!
Was it not you who cut Rahab in pieces, who pierced the dragon?
Was it not you who dried up the sea, the waters of the great deep; who made the depths of the sea a way for the redeemed to cross over?

So the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

I, I am he who comforts you; why then are you afraid of a mere mortal who must die, a human being who fades like grass?

You have forgotten the Lord, your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth.
You fear continually all day long because of the fury of the oppressor; who is bent on destruction.
But where is the fury of the oppressor?

The oppressed shall speedily be released; they shall not die and go down to the Pit, nor shall they lack bread.
For I am the Lord your God, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar - the Lord of hosts is his name.

I have put my words in your mouth, and hidden you in the shadow of my hand, stretching out the heavens and laying the foundations of the earth, and saying to Zion, ‘You are my people.’

2 Thessalonians 2
As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here. Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction. He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, declaring himself to be God. Do you not remember that I told you these things when I was still with you? And you know what is now restraining him, so that he may be revealed when his time comes. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but only until the one who now restrains it is removed. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will destroy with the breath of his mouth, annihilating him by the manifestation of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is apparent in the working of Satan, who uses all power, signs, lying wonders, and every kind of wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion, leading them to believe what is false, so that all who have not believed the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness will be condemned.

But we must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth. For this purpose he called you through our proclamation of the good news, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter.

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word.

The Collect
O Lord Jesus Christ, who at your first coming sent your messenger to prepare your way before you: grant that the ministers and stewards of your mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready your way by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at your second coming to judge the world we may be found an acceptable people in your sight; for you are alive and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Mixed Economy Gym

Had to be done: Watch the difference between established church and fresh expression in a Gym setting:

video


The term 'Mixed economy' comes from former Archbishop Rowan William. He used it to explain how 'Fresh Expressions of Church' could exist alongside traditional 'inherited forms of church' without interfering or hindering each other in any way.

This is a great demonstration of the steady 'established' running (literally) alongside the more charismatic expression and bot run their race beautifully - and drink tea in the lough afterwards too I'd reckon!

* If people think this is useful - let me know and I'll stick it on the web so you can download it!


Finding Talent: The Modules

The report tells us that the means by which training is to be delivered is a 'modular development programme' undertaken over a period of 12-18 months consisting of three modules which are (and I quote directly here):


Module One - Building Healthy Organisations.
In preparation for this module, learners will be asked to work through a suite of on-line tools that will measure the effectiveness of the team they lead. They will also be asked to participate in a 360 degree feedback exercise. The module will start by exploring the current context of the Church and the challenges and opportunities that face the organisation now and in the future. The spiritual focus of the programme will be underlined. Ecclesiology and perspectives from different traditions in the Church will be included. The ‘healthy organisation’ will be defined as the foundation for the success of the Church in the future. Learners will work on their team and individual 360 feedback reports and construct action plans around their development needs.

Time will be spent on approaches to change management and how to lead complex decentralised organisations through change. Conflict and coaching support for difficult conversations will be included. External perspectives will be supplied from organisations like the National Trust, BBC, NHS Health Trusts and the Armed Services. The module will conclude with examining the importance of measurement and controls, including an overview of financial and other measurement tools and techniques. Refresher and updated material will be offered to cover safeguarding and legal issues. Each cohort will be divided into action learning sets and these sets will agree development tasks focused on the healthy organisation for completion before the second module. The action learning sets will also form the basis for prayer and spiritual reflection between each module.

Module Two - Leading Growth.
This module will look at the challenges and opportunities presented by the intent to grow the Church. As course preparation, learners will be asked to review any planning material for their diocese and come prepared to discuss and share plans. The module will open with an exploration of growth, why evangelism is so important for the future of the Church and will examine the importance of planning for growth. The module will aim to offer peer reviews of existing diocesan plans and assistance to design and implement a plan where none exists. Work on team effectiveness from the first module will be revisited to examine in more detail the importance of building the right partnership between lay and ordained ministries. A field trip will be organised so the cohort can experience personally a part of the Church that is experiencing growth and this will lead to sessions sharing best practice and looking at successful initiatives, including ecumenical perspectives. The module will conclude with action learning sets agreeing development tasks focused on evangelism and growth, for completion before the third module. Once again the action learning set will be the basis for prayer and spiritual reflection.

Module Three - Re-inventing the Ministry.
The final module will focus on the capabilities required from senior leaders to improve talent management in the Church. As preparation, each learner will be asked to review the current status of MDRs in their diocese and review their senior staff meetings from the perspective of how it could be better used to identify talented individuals. This module will help participants to both conduct and receive a MDR and will work on best practice. The module will include further work on developing coaching and mentoring skills. The new approach to identifying talent within the Church will be highlighted, together with the key role of senior clergy within the process. The module will conclude with sharing best practice in ministerial development, using case studies both from lay and ordained ministries.



This is nothing more than the basic management courses that would elsewhere lead to a DMS* type qualification which with the addition of communications, marketing and financial papers would form at its highest level an MBA. What is sad (from where I recline) is that these skills should have inductively been added to the portfolio of anyone who has been around in the real world of management and are no great shakes at all. So what;s the fuss about with those who had texted and mailed to tell me it's 'elitist' - for what's on offer here is merely bread and butter skills (for £2m - have I mentioned this - not sure we're getting value for money or even looking at the right people to deliver the training to either!).

The 'healthy organisation' is something that should be featuring large in today's organisation and yet, if those I engage with are being honest, they don't appear to feature even barely in some places! Growth as a learned and transferable reality is also great fun for, wearing my missioner hat, I don't find that replication comes through ageing what is seen any more than it comes by buying into to 'the only effective ± ten years of the minister's age' theory!

Re-inventing the ministry is a little bit insulting. Insulting because it's not the ministry that need 're-inventing' it is the way that senior church people use the talent that already exists - and this is about more than 'releasing the laity' (also known as 'skint so can't afford to pay') and MDR (Major Drain on Resources?) as an exercise that keeps blue riband clergy frustrated and leaves the hopeless and hapless clergy hopeless too.

But here are the words, read them for yourself and see that there's nothing special here - that's going to be the people they pick perhaps?




*Diploma in Management Studies

C of E to groom talent for top jobs: Contributing to the Common Good

My first thought was the 'contributing to the Common Good' was about people and engagement not politics and that this shows how much those who produce such stuff have missed the mark. What I think we are seeing in Project: Finding Talent seems to be more about becoming a secular and political organisation rather than an engaged and authoritative spiritual body. Regarding the report as a whole, it's nice to see a few Bible references thrown in and it's great to use a bit of Christianspeak but in the final analysis I am finding my support (which still exists) just a little cooler as I see nothing different in what is on offer here to the two year course I had to undertake to become an Industrial Engineer and Management Consultant type person.*

I have to ask myself whether this is really an area we need to be sending our senior people (and those in the pool for preferment) to 'high quality academic institutions' to learn. After all, and I know I'm being naive, this is something that those who are 'Church' should already know something about.
Contributing to the common good is who we are, isn't it? If it is merely about politics then I have to offer the thought that if they haven't learnt about politics by now it's all probably just a little too late to start doing in with them now (did I mention £2m?) isn't it?

There are a number of ways in which we should be doing this:

Serving the community directly through engagement with them in the shape of Foodbanks, care on the streets, mental health, addiction, unemployment, homelessness and so many other provisions of support, advice and care.

Being engaged in political parties where we bring the Christian voice to bear and by our presence (a true 'presence' ministry) bring about cohesion and change - which is where I wish we hadn't decided merely to remove ourselves from some political groups rather than engage and encounter them from within. After all, who listens to those outside. Isn't that what Jesus taught us to do - get involved and into relationship?

Getting in to politics at local, national and European levels - wouldn't it be nice to find more ground level Christians in politics where they could be an influence. After all, great to teach the uberchristians all this stuff but what the hey, a bishop speaks on something and the majority outside of the church merely shrug and generally ignore (sorry Justin, my non-christian friends think you're a good guy but generally ignore you because you are 'pontificating' and because you're being a 'do gooder' - actually doing good speaks lasting and louder words).

What I would have preferred to see here is those who are in senior posts encouraging those below them to plan and communicate and publicise and inform and create a warm feeling with those who engage with vitriol and bile against the Church.

I would like less indulgence and more full-on engagement from the people at the top (yes, know you're busy, you're supposed to be!) and less of the naff photo opportunities and toepointingly awful engagements and pronouncements that so often grace the media (local and national).

The 'common good' for me is to be found in the Acts church where we lived in our homes, met in the temple and all that stuff - it is seen in Malachi where we bring ALL of our tithe into the storehouse so that none might go without, and it is seen in the pouring of something precious over the feet of Jesus, the Christ (//) - and that precious oil is discipleship, obedience, worship, sacrifice, service, and prayer.

Not rocket science, is it?

* I will post the outlines of the three taught modules in the next blog so we can see :-)