Thinking Anglicans

Green report awarded Fallen Angel prize by Financial Times

Updated three times on Tuesday and again on Friday

Lucy Kellaway writes in today’s Financial Times about a Golden Flannel award made to the Green Report:

… This year I’m awarding a special prize to an organisation that ought to have risen above jargon, but has been dragged down into it. Winner of the inaugural Fallen Angel award goes to the Church of England, which in a paper on training bishops talked of “a radical step change in our development of leaders who can shape and articulate a compelling vision and who are skilled and robust enough to create spaces of safe uncertainty in which the Kingdom grows”. Our Lord, looking down on a sentence in which His Kingdom was obliterated by a dozen dreary management clichés, must have found his genius for forgiveness sorely tested…

Updates

Another article about the Green report, this time by Anderson Jeremiah, has appeared at The Conversation: With regret, the Church of England is turning into The Apprentice.

If you never heard of this website before, it’s explained a bit here.

And Keith Elford has written The Green report: business knows best? You can read about Keith here.

And now, Andrew Lightbown returns to the attack, with this: The Green Report: Fallen Angels and Slippery Slopes.

His earlier articles are here and here.

David Keen has written In Praise of the Green Report.

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Flora Alexander
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Flora Alexander

A well-deserved award!

Fr William
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While Justin narrows the pool to those who have been ‘trained’, Francis it seems throws the doors wide open.

Father David
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Father David

“And so say all of us!” What an own goal for the Church of England with which to begin the new year! Let’s hope the General Synod can salvage something from the wreckage of this P. R. disaster when they come to debate the Green Report next month.

Jean Mayland (Revd)
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Jean Mayland (Revd)

Open wide the doors and let the prophets and the characters in!

Anthony Archer
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Anthony Archer

The FT being (rightly) a big fan of ++Welby is not wrong to demonstrate supposed balance by taking pot shots at other aspects of the CofE, but it was somewhat disigenuous of the wonderful Lucy Kellaway to jump on the ‘bash Green Report’ bandwagon. Few of those who have criticised the report seem to have read it. Some seem to have an axe to grind. I do not defend the report to the hilt (its handling and publication have been disastrous) but what it is addressing and how it is addressing it is sound. Take para14 on p5 for example… Read more »

Rev Michael
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Rev Michael

Oh dear! Why are we so besotted with the language of management and organisation? We don’t honour the Lord, and we don’t impress the world…

James A
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James A

In joining the chorus of congratulations to the C of E for its Golden Flannel award, I can’t help feeling it will make not one bit of difference. Given that both archbishops seem congenitally incapable of collaborative working, of formulating policy decisions by consensus, and being single-minded in their determination to implement far-reaching and ill-conceived policy changes in a quasi-Papal fashion (i.e. neither of them understand Anglican polity and where their authority begins and ends) that I foresee the Green project steaming ahead while the rest of us are made to sit back and shout ‘I told you so’ into… Read more »

Marshall Scott
Guest

Is there another link? From this side of the water the article seems to be behind a pay wall, or at least a membership wall.

Mark Bennet
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Mark Bennet

For what it is worth, the Green report is better than its press. It is uncomfortable for the church to face some of the questions implicit in its approach. It is easy to be critical, but less easy to face the questions – and the questions do need to be faced. Perhaps it is like the magi on their journey visiting Herod first, with all the consequences which flowed from that. But they had to start the journey to get to their destination, and without their detour via Herod they would never have found Jesus. I have yet to see… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

One problem of cute worldly management schemes can be that they take no account of the reality ‘from below’. This can severely disconnect management planning from the reality of resources. Spiritual Leadership ought, surely, to be sourced from the ‘Body’ context – which takes account of the whole, rather than relying on the creme de la creme!

A Board of Management needs to take account of the actual work force in order to achieve permanent results – that benefit everyone. I guess that’s why God decided to ‘en-flesh’ God’s-Self at the Incarnation. Humility was at the heart of it all.

David Runcorn
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David Runcorn

Anthony, I think you make your point well and I agree with you. But a basic principle of implementing any organisational change is that ‘the process is part of the content’. In fact the experience of the process determines to a significant degree how the content is received and whether it is trusted. The process here has been disastrous and inept and it is hardly surprising that a church already anxious and under great pressure should be reacting so strongly against it. Without careful process, change is experienced as coercive and even bullying. So it is frustrating and actually worrying… Read more »

Tom Marshall
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Tom Marshall

I have some sympathy with Mark Bennett’s response – although I think he is rather overstating his case to say that no-one has come up with alternative proposals. Martyn Percy was pretty specific about what was needed (and what was missing) from the process and the content. Michael Sadgrove outlined some basic assumptions which don’t require a doctorate in astrophysics to interpret. Mark Bennett’s point is extremely germane in his allusion to where the real problem lies: in the parishes. Parish clergy are subjected to much higher administrative expectations (none of which are required by the ordinal or the canons),… Read more »

Father David
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Father David

Mark, surely an alternative to all the management-speak jargon in the Green Report would be Prayer? If we want to grow the Church and extend Christ’s Kingdom a greater devotion to the life of prayer must surely be the right way forward. Also, a greater concentration on sharing the gospel which bears your name along with the other three evangelists works is essential. Following the example of the Magi on their pilgrim journey to Bethlehem – more attention to adoration and high quality worship would not come amiss either.

Jane Charman
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Jane Charman

A difficulty the Green report has is that it does not seem to know who its readers are meant to be which perhaps accounts for many of the tonal oddities. Is it a confidential report to the Archbishops, a briefing for the House of Bishops, a working document for DAG, information for potential participants, or what? More recently the group has said that it was intended to be a funding bid for the Church Commissioners rather than for circulation. I write funding bids as part of my work and it does not look like one to me. In some ways… Read more »

Anne M
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Anne M

This is perhaps not wholly relevant to the Green report, but I think Tom Marshall does “people in parishes” rather a disservice. Contrary to his statement, many of us are very keen that our priests should have “theological literacy, engagement with their wider communities, [and] ‘vision'”.

Michael Chancellor
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Michael Chancellor

Jane Charman’s clear and incisive contributions to this debate are just one strand of thoughtful reaction to the Green shambles. I would also like to know when Jane – and so many others – can make their suggestions for improvement. If you read the ‘Papal Encyclical’ from Lambeth Palace (16th December on the C of E’s Tumblr page)reacting to the criticism of the Green Report you get the clear impression that there is no further discussion to be had. That the least episcopally experienced Archbishop of Canterbury (and the least theologically qualified in living memory) should presume to impose such… Read more »

Mark Bennet
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Mark Bennet

Father David – if prayer were sufficient, why would we have 1 Corinthians 12? For too long our model of church has been that one man [sic] can do it all, or that the things the one man doesn’t do are of less value. I stand by my view that the response to the Green report has so far been far too defensively critical. There is sense in its tone of urgent pragmatism – the pragmatists will listen to reason, but the urgency demands that it is constructive. The gospel matters for this generation as well as the next. Someone… Read more »

Laurence Cunnington
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Laurence Cunnington

“If members of the General Synod sit back and allow these proposals (and the designated budget) to proceed unchallenged,” Michael Chancellor

But haven’t we already been told that it’s none of that pesky General Synod’s business how the Church Commissioners spend their money?

Anthony Archer
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Anthony Archer

The Green Report deserves a far more measured response than it have so far been getting, despite the process shambles that I do not seek to play down. What it is recommending is not ‘rocket science’ and although it uses the term ‘radical change’ in places that is only a reflection on where the Church of England currently is. Who can argue with the need for a fit-for-purpose preferment system, particularly in such a flat organisation? When I was elected to the Crown Nominations Commission in 2005 I was presented with two lists of people who were considered to be… Read more »

Father David
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Father David

Mark, I recall that I suggested a recourse to a trinity of prayer, evangelism and worship. Much of the considered criticism of the Green Report has centred upon its lack of any depth of theological, understanding of what the Church is for and about. This was highlighted in the perceptive interview the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford gave on the Sunday programme. I think we would do well to heed Dean Percy’s sage words he was, after all, until very recently Principal of a Theological College which traditionally has in the past provided the C of E with many of… Read more »

Simon R
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Simon R

I continue to be alarmed at a process which was set up with (apparently) minimal consultation and little provision for on-going consultation; with no involvement from noted theologians, experienced theological educators, or academics from business-related disciplines; and an advisory group comprised of people who seem to be ‘tame’ and predisposed to the solutions Green is proposing. That this report would have been kept under wraps until it was ‘leaked’ is more worrying and suggests that alternative perspectives were to be simply dismissed. Overall, it has more than a whiff of the Alpha mentality: we will set the limited questions you… Read more »

Father David
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Father David

It seems to me that the Green Report will be to Archbishop Justin what the Anglican Covenant was to Archbishop Rowan and the Poll Tax was to Maggie. A veritable mill stone. I do hope that “the usual suspects” will help to put a few nails in the coffin of this much maligned and grossly inadequate report. As Deans Percy and Sadgrove (two exceptional deans who have risen to senior ecclesiastical positions under the existing system) have suggested and my teachers often wrote on my school reports “could do better”.

Laurence Cunnington
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Laurence Cunnington

I understand the ‘award’ to have been given not for the ideas proposed in the Green report nor for any faults in the process leading to its production, but for the leaden, dated, management-speak in which it is written.

Mark Bennet
Guest
Mark Bennet

Father David – prayer, evangelism and worship are undoubtedly important – I am involved with them all. But as I argued, albeit briefly, from scripture, reason and tradition there are resources beyond this which the church needs to deploy. Whether we like it or not the church is a large and complex organisation. That is one of the reasons a business based approach will not wholly suit – any business leader would radically simplify the historic ownership of assets and the patronage system, for a start – yet both of these have been resisted (e.g. legal ownership of parsonage houses,… Read more »

David Lamming
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David Lamming

I have not yet read the Green report, so will refrain from commenting on its contents (how it came to be ‘leaked’ and then formally published and whether this is a PR ‘disaster’ for the C of E is a separate issue) but I should like to endorse Father David’s post at 11.34 am yesterday. It echoes some words of Stephen Cottrell, then Diocesan Missioner in Wakefield Diocese, now Bishop of Chelmsford (and hotly tipped to be the next ++York) in an address 20 years ago to the clergy of the Chelmsford Diocese in conference at Caister in Norfolk: “…… Read more »

Stevie Gamble
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Stevie Gamble

It seems to me that the Green Report has received a number of measured responses; the fact that Anthony Archer doesn’t like those measured responses is an entirely different matter. Those of us whose careers were spent in analysing businesses – in my case to determine their tax liabilities – tend to be rather less starry eyed about the presumed efficiencies of the business model, not least because we are only too familiar with the catastrophic consequences of them jumping on the latest bandwagon, only to discover that the wagon has just gone over the cliff and it doesn’t have… Read more »

David Keen
Guest
David Keen

Is it better for potential bishops and deans to get some experience and training prior to discovering they’ve been purpled, or just to drop them in with a few months notice and leave them to pick things up on the hoof? Given that we have a set of national priorities for the CofE, should the way we identify and train the senior pastors of the church reflect these priorities, or carry on as if they didn’t exist? If you don’t trust the current leadership of the CofE, they you won’t trust them whatever system is operating. At least the Green… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Anthony,
I would like to believe that your analysis is right. And I think we all agree that the current system IS a mess and that it does need to change.

But several people here have made very serious comments about the shortcomings of the business model. Andrew Lightbown and Stevie Gamble do so from an insider’s view.

I would be really grateful if you could engage with some of the comments they make and convince us that the proposed model really IS the best way forward.

James A
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James A

In addition to David Lamming’s citation of Stephen Cottrell’s paper, Angela Tilby had an excellent piece in last Friday’s Church Times. It may be behind a pay wall. But I have read no better definition of what the Church’s core activity should be. Put worship first (this is how Anglicans do their primary theology) and the rest will follow. http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2015/2-january/comment/columnists/our-seven-wonders

Father David
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Father David

James, thank you for telling us of Angela Tilby’s article on the primacy of worship. She and you are so correct – put worship first and the rest will follow. Perhaps that’s why so many of our cathedrals are thriving and growing? Angela Tilby also recently wrote an excellent article lauding the superiority of the Traditional version of the Lord’s Prayer over the inferior modern translations, the article first appeared in the Church Times and was later reproduced in the Journal of the Prayer Book Society.

Mark Bennet
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Mark Bennet

James A – the word “worship” appears surprisingly infrequently in the New Testament. One place where it does appear is in Romans 12, where it is linked with the gifts we are given by God as one body in Christ, and the exercise of those gifts, which just happen to include leadership. Since Romans 12 is a classic ordination text, it perhaps provides a bridge across a range of the comments currently being made. It also raises a question about what we mean by worship – the failure to exercise gifts of leadership appropriately could be seen as a failure… Read more »

Charles Read
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Charles Read

For once I agree with Angela Tilby! However, there is a rumour (one hopes false) that the new wave of simplification will include getting rid if the Liturgical Commission. While I think that the Commission has been less than fruitful of late, if we abolish it, what message are we sending regarding worship as a priority? What we need is a Commission that will enable people to be creative and authentically Anglican in their worship – a Commission that will give a lead without caving in to archaising tendencies (‘there’s only one way to do it!’) or capitulating to sheer… Read more »

Mark Brunson
Guest

Models tend to indicate a want of faith, do they not? I include ancient, as well as modern business models, here. It seems to me, when we say “model,” what we mean is not guideline, or type, but “THE LAW,” so that we can wash our hands of the time-consuming and – yes – messy business of discerning faithfully, a sort of production-line approach to ecclesia. I cannot speak for the CofE and offer only my own views, but I can tell you that we ‘Murkans over here have had a “business model” of church for some time, and the… Read more »

James A
Guest
James A

I would have hoped Mark Bennett could be rather less simplistic in his appeal to scripture. If you go to the Pentateuch and Revelation, I think you will find that worship is the most fundamental activity for the people of God. Any decent biblical scholar will tell you that the low incidence of the word in the Pauline (and pseudo Pauline) corpus is related to the issue of pagan and Jewish cultic activity and Christianity’s perceived relationship to it. Whereas the first Epistle of Peter is a mystagogical explanation of the Easter Vigil liturgy. If we are going to cite… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Guest

I”m always sceptical about attempts to establish that ‘X is the most fundamental activity of the Church’; they almost always lead to oversimplification. And worship as a special calling for disciples of Jesus seems to have a remarkably low profile, not only in the letters of Paul but also in the Gospels. I think The New Testament gives us a cluster of activities to which the Church is called – discipleship, mission and evangelism, community and worship being prominent among them. I would argue that the prioritising of worship and the consequent neglect of the others is one of the… Read more »

Mark Bennet
Guest
Mark Bennet

I’m sorry, I don’t think my use of scripture above was at all simplistic. I was using a passage of scripture to pose the deep question of what we mean by worship. Some of the critics of the Green report have pointed to a lack of clarity about “leadership” – well let’s clarify what we mean by the words we use, including “worship”. Romans 12 happens to be a passage from St Paul which links worship and leadership amongst other things, and which, in the liturgical tradition of the Church of England is closely associated with ordination. Our tradition recognises… Read more »

SImon R
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SImon R

Tim Chesterton is entitled to his reductionist and functionalist view of worship, but citing superficial evidence from the Gospels and NT will not do. The Synagogue was a hostile context for the generation which produced the Gospels and NT epistles and, with the destruction of the Temple, it’s hardly surprising that worship has a low profile. A more synoptic view of the early centuries of Christian literature and history tells a very different story – and Tim and Mark would do well to mug-up on this before dismissing the degree to which the Anglican theological character is shaped by our… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Guest

Simon, I think God will judge whether the worship that is offered in the church I serve week by week is of ‘poor quality’ or not. And I suspect that his judgement may have a lot more to do with whether it is offered by sincere hearts, and whether it is lived out in lives of holiness and love. At least, so the Old Testament prophets would have us believe. They are, I seem to remember, rather scathing about those who put all their hope in fine temple liturgies and neglect the other aspects of God’s calling.

Mark Bennet
Guest
Mark Bennet

Simon R – I have twice referred to Romans 12 in a liturgical context as a text which shapes our common understanding of ordination. One thing we know that Jesus did in the Synagogue was to read the scriptures – an interesting choice of reading in this context.

The word “worship” is being used ambiguously in the comments in this thread (it is not, for example, synonymous with liturgy) – and one of my comments was that we should be clearer about what we mean, or we’ll be at cross purposes.

Martyn Percy
Guest
Martyn Percy

Just a brief response to Fr David’s comment on 07 January. I can’t speak for Dean Sadgrove and Durham, but believe Michael was appointed under the older preferment system still operating in 2003? The appointment process for a Dean of Christ Church does not involve the CNC. It is run in a similar way to how many Heads of Houses in Oxford and Cambridge are selected – interviews in stages (formal and informal), presentations, conversations, etc. Further information on the contrasting current CNC interview process for bishops is outlined in “Growth and Management in the Church of England: Some Comments”,… Read more »

Howie Adan
Guest
Howie Adan

Back to the original header. Lucy Kellaway’s podcast version of the article can be found here: http://podcast.ft.com/p/2463

Daniel Lamont
Guest
Daniel Lamont

It is probably past due to comment further on the Green Report, which I have read, but it is still a live issue. I have read both the report itself and supportive comments such as David Keen’s. There is much of interest in the report, it is not devoid of theological reflection and it is undeniable that the CofE has a major problem that has to be addressed. However, I am not convinced that this is the way to do it. I wonder why, other than the fact that ++Justin was an oil executive, Christopher McLaverty from BP was engaged… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

I wonder if TA might commission two pieces from different perspectives for publication at the time of Synod? There were no Christmas reflections here this season I missed them. I have been helped by the contributions on this and earlier threads. I too think the report a little skewed and somewhat incomplete. It lacks the rigor of a good debate. The way it came into the public domain was unfortunate. I applaud inspired leadership, but this is not an area for action without deep reflection and that’s how it seems. Attacking those who were critical and implying they were part… Read more »

Flora Alexander
Guest
Flora Alexander

This thread began as a comment on the use in the report of management cliches, but significantly it has moved into broader discussion of its introduction and content. The content cannot be separated from the language in which it is presented, and something written like this cannot inspire confidence. Like Daniel Lamont I have worked in a changing university system, and I know that you do not get good results if you impose change without proper consultation. It is not encouraging to read (Church Times 19/26 Dec 14) that Christopher McClaverty dismissed the concerns voiced by Jane Charman as ‘turbulence’,… Read more »

Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

Erika Baker encourages me to engage further with some of these comments as being (with +Willesden) one of the few supporters of the Green Report on TA. That is a challenge within Simon’s 400 word edict! A few reminders. The CofE is episcopally led and synodically governed. You may not like that, but it is the ecclesiology and way we are ordered. It is open to the House of Bishops to pioneer initiatives, fund them from the Church Commissioners (if constitutionally able to) and just get on with things. Synod rightly can (and does) hold bishops to account, but the… Read more »

Stevie Gamble
Guest
Stevie Gamble

I note from the comments on David Keen’s website that his experience was not typical; it is always worth bearing in mind the fact that some people are uncomfortable in leadership roles, notwithstanding the fact that they make very valuable contributions as team members. I am still none the wiser as to why anyone thought that the answer to the crisis in confidence in the leadership of the Church of England would best be provided by people with little or no experience in leading not for profit organisations; there are, after all, people with outstanding track records in public service,… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Guest

MDR, INSEAD, FAOC…

?????

Reminds me of the old church sign that read:
1 & 3 HC
2 & 4 MP

Obviously everyone who needed to understand that one, already did!

Stevie Gamble
Guest
Stevie Gamble

Having written a lengthy response, and then watched it disappear into the cyber void, I think it would be a good idea, in future, to copy it before I attempt to dispatch it. Pure incompetence on my part, I must say; technology and me are always a pitiful sight.

I will try rewriting it, but not tonight…

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Anthony, thank you for that. I am still not sure that your comment addresses the main points of the criticism made by, say, Andrew Lightbown, who comments that the business model is usually short term and that the majority of businesses have a short lifespan. I agree with you that change is needed. I am still not sure why an MBA-style approach is the right form of change. The talent pool falls outside normal business practice, where it is more usual for jobs to be advertised and for people who believe they fulfil the stated criteria to apply. It’s the… Read more »