Thank you for your report which makes interesting reading indeed and certainly gets 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 off 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 the 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 star' roles so ably demonstrate). This is what we need - not giving the privileged and able more whilst those who 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 where 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.'