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 :-)