The lack of support and encouragement for this amazingly vital and valid course from those who should be promoting it and shouting about what it gave them (which of course because they haven't done it they can't - and if it doesn't come from the upper echelons then the laity (of which we are all part) won't engage with it either).
What is sown spiritually by the leadership comes to pass in the people they lead!
This is why so many in the pews are so taken up with numbers, and especially
How much money we have to pay for what we have!
How many people we have so that we can be seen to be valid!
The report lends an air of spiritual validity to itself because it speaks of 'spiritual and numerical growth' but to get numbers we need to be appealing and attractive - and generally we are not (for a number of reasons which we will note and pass by for now). That said Justin Welby is doing stuff to gain some profile and make waves (more about that in the next blog entry) and Church is being seen to be engaged and active
What we need is to be a more prayerful bunch and this needs to come from the top. If people see their leaders praying then they will pray with them and continue when they are on their own.
We need to be reading our Bibles and acting as if what we have before us is holy writ and not some 'pick and mix' offering where that which allows us to 'be happy' and allows us to justify our actions, attitudes and lifestyles is taken up and the other stuff consigned to the 'no longer valid - that was for when the people weren't as smart as us!' bin.
We will be seeing growth when the people who call themselves Christian are committed and engaged and educated and equipped and released - those who have made it to the top floor are generally Oxbridge and educated and generally well-informed - what we need is good communication skills and good news (I'm sure I've read about the 'Good News' somewhere) and positive experiences.
We need those who are struggling to be come alongside and helped and those who are doing stuff that works to share it in their deaneries and Churches Together groups and to be willing to say that things aren't great and accept help and bless fresh expressions and plants from others (as long as they don't steal my sheep that is ;-) ).
I'm still applauding the reports aims but feel the 'growth' area could end up being about money and numbers - because that's what academic business models do (I know, I been there and remember visiting a company held up as an exemplar of great management and shrewd business modelling - a year later it had folded owing millions!).
We need to use organisations theory (that's Handy ;-) ) and to understand what works rather than reinvent the wheel when we don't have the momentum to try and fail for ourselves. The report is right in so many ways and yet in this area (leading growth) there is a danger that we might leave the spiritual main line and head off along the down the business branch line to corporate city.
I have to say that were the Church of England to invest £2m in making its grassroots ministers and ministry more effective there might be more to celebrate but instead we're going to invest in those in whom we have already invested much already (I assume we did send them to college and probably, because we want 'young' ordinands this means more academic laurels were also on the menu) - and the 'meritocracy' that we are to develop means that it will be the 'haves' who find themselves having even more. Perhaps spending it on those who have already been flagged up and 'needy' in MDRs* would yield something more with regard to spiritual (and numeric) growth and be a motivator that pays dividends for the Church across the board (and denominations).
Just a thought - sorry this has been a soapbox splurge, I just get too passionate :-)
* MDR - Ministry Development Review