Comments: Business school style training proposed for some clergy

1. It's always both/and, never either/or.
2. Most of the negative stuff about these proposals comes from the training and CME industry, who have a vested interest in keeping the existing system going.
3. Of course the ordinal and spirituality underpins all this stuff. But people may have noticed that the church is full of priests and bishops who find conflict difficult, who aren't strategic, who find it hard to tell hard facts to people who aren't doing their priestly task, and whose understanding of the seriousness of the task facing the CofE is not there, because they're in denial.

If we want to re-evangelise England and let God build his kingdom here, we need a bit of backbone and leadership as well as being servants, shepherds and prophets. The old wet liberal ethos has no traction any more.

Posted by Pete Broadbent at Friday, 12 December 2014 at 5:53pm GMT

Business school style training - yet more management speak when what is required is a Spiritual school style training. We don't so much need managers and manageresses in purple shirts but Spiritual Directors.
Good Lord, deliver us!

Posted by Father David at Friday, 12 December 2014 at 6:27pm GMT

Nothing has quite spoiled my Friday morning - not even the prospect of a politically correct Christingle for a non-church and significantly Muslim school at 11 am - as this has done. It is lamentable. In one form or another it has always been going on - I know from attending selection conferences when I was assistant DDO that people, even at that stage, are labelled as potential high fliers (a doubtful enough practice) - but to institutionalize it like this is woeful. The problem about wearing the coats of other creatures is that one inherits their parasites, and in this case the parasites that come with the garments of corporate managerialism are malignant. I worked in the university sector for 30 years before ordination, so please believe me. It is this sort of move by the powers that be that drives me towards the former flying bishops - not necessarily because of the chromosomal constitution of the priests, but because of a vision of the church that accords with what has been handed down to us.

Posted by Fr William at Friday, 12 December 2014 at 8:33pm GMT

"The old wet liberal ethos has no traction any more."

Is incompetence really a "liberal ethos?" We don't find that here in the US. Some liberals have spines, some don't. I admit that it's irritating when they don't, but I don't ascribe it to liberalism/conservatism/etc.

It is a bit harsh to say incompetence, because everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. The clergy with difficulty in some of the corporate areas are likely excellent pastors. We all need training in the areas where we're weaker. And these corporate skills are teachable and learnable, whilst compassion and engagement with the Living God are harder to teach.

Posted by Cynthia at Friday, 12 December 2014 at 9:16pm GMT

Thank goodness for Martyn Percy because he has taken the trouble to say what is wrong with this report in a way that is both measured and wise. I'm afraid I don't have the patience.

Posted by Philip at Friday, 12 December 2014 at 10:39pm GMT

Pete
For someone who claims your point 1 you are very cavalier in your points 2 and 3. I for one have not spent the last 15 years of my ministry working in a CME 'industry'. I totally accept that ministry needs to draw widely for its insights and think you would find this in programmes I have been proud to be part of.
'Of course the ordinal and spirituality underpins all this stuff'. I am far from convinced it does actually. That's a core part of the problem. And my concern is that business theory needs to be located within a robustly discerning spirituality - not become the driver with a presumption that somewhere in the background we are still praying.

Posted by David Runcorn at Friday, 12 December 2014 at 10:57pm GMT

Thank you both to the Church Times Leader writer and to Martyn Percy for so eloquently drawing attention to the disturbing, really disturbing, deficiencies of this Report.
Re Pete Broadbent. 1) In what conceivable sense are Christian 'leadership and backbone' separable from the call to be 'servants, shepherds and prophets'? I can think of no great leader of the Church who wasn't such because of 'backbone' - 'profound faith in Christ' might be better - in their call to be one or more of those three, though by all means train them in conflict management and strategic thinking. 2)If we wish to work with God in establishing his Kingdom here - 'letting' him do it strikes me as a little presumptuous - then, as Bonhoeffer might remind us, that may be very different from re-evangelisation, may involve a very deliberate rejection of models apparently successful in the secular sphere, and would certainly involve a faithful adherence to the Sermon on the Mount, itself a rejection of worldly models of 'success', or even what the world might consider sense.

Posted by Fr Rob Hall at Saturday, 13 December 2014 at 12:07am GMT

Re Martyn Percy,

"The Green report represents a straightforward bid for power from a small group of elite executive managers ... the proponents need reminding that their ministry is serving and supporting the Church, not leading and controlling it.'

In other words, these are not the Druids you are looking for.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Saturday, 13 December 2014 at 4:18am GMT

In an age dominated by individualism and Commercialisation - shewn at its worst excesses recently by "Black Friday" - the last thing the Established church needs is to be dominated by some managerial business model. People's souls are crying out to be fed by a vibrant spirituality and true religion. If ever the National Church needed to hear and heed the Baptist's cry it is now. Repent ye, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand?

Posted by Father David at Saturday, 13 December 2014 at 6:14am GMT

O dear!
The Green report actually seems to me to be a scathing attack of the whole approach of the Faith and Order Commission's approach to senior leadership.
There is no doubt that we do need a new way of identifying and providing the necessary support and training for potential future leaders and senior pastors than we have at present. Our current system seems still to be cloaked and secretive and those who are nominated for preferment may need to have training in specific skills and aspects of quality leadership.
But how are these new 150 "illuminati" to be chosen? 4 nominated from each diocese? If not, how will we ensure a balance of selection from across the whole of the Church of England; rather than just a few dioceses? Will there be an open and transparent application process so that any who may feel interested (have a vocation?) to such a future post be able to apply?
I do hope that, as and when these Green proposals are published, there will be time and space for genuine consultation and openness to a wider wisdom before rushing into a new system that could prove to be even worse than that we have now.

Posted by Paul Richardson at Saturday, 13 December 2014 at 9:20am GMT

Speaking as a parish priest I think that there are some teachable and learnable skills which we need, mainly to do with running a parish - marriage law, faculties, graveyard admin, website and social media skills (so that we can communicate effectively), musical skills or at least basic knowledge, organising baptisms, weddings and funerals in ways that genuinely welcome people (the weddings, funerals and christenings projects are really helping with this), and of course, boiler maintenance... These things, which are so crucial when you actually get out into a parish, can shipwreck a ministry far more easily than an inadequate understanding of the theology of the letter to the Romans. They are also intricately linked with spirituality, because they are about actual, practical care for those with whom we deal - people don't feel loved if you have forgotten to read their banns...
Many clergy seem to come out of theological colleges and courses assuming that there will be adminstrators, churchwardens etc. who can deal with all these things, while they should be able to concentrate on preaching and praying and pastoral work. My experience is that they often think that they really shouldn't be doing these things at all - they are the job of the laity. This is fine if you have lay people who have the time and ability to do them, but many churches, especially those who are struggling, don't, and a priest who isn't fazed by the practicalities will be vital. Neither can we rely on training incumbents to teach these things, since they may not have these skills either. No one is teaching us this sort of stuff, and we can't afford to find it out by trial and error.
It is about basic competencies for ministry, and all through my 20+ years of ministry I have felt that this was something which training courses should have covered, at least in outline. Perhaps the problem is that many ordinands, for obvious reasons, come from larger churches where the priests don't have to do this stuff. Statistically, though, they are likely to become incumbents of smaller churches where they will need to be able to do a wide range of jobs. The ideal might be to find lay people to take these things on, but if the parish priest hasn't got a clue about them, it's far less likely that they will be able to equip someone to do so.

It seems to me that this report is starting in the wrong place. It's no good simply creaming off the priests who look as if they know what they are doing, training them up a bit more, and putting them in positions of oversight. It is in the parishes that the Church of England lives or dies, and giving greater priority in training to basic competencies of ministry would not only provide a greater pool of priests capable of the kind of leadership that is being suggested, but also benefit the whole church.

Posted by Anne2 at Saturday, 13 December 2014 at 9:22am GMT

I reflect that the central era of Israel’s history, recorded in 1&2 Samuel, began with a society anxious about its leadership - which was widely felt to be failing. The response was to try and buy in a new model from outside. ‘Give us a king like they have got’. Half a glance at what this leadership was like in practice over the borders would have made clear this was not a rational request. It was also a non-theological request. So we should hardly be surprised that it struggled unevenly to have a theological outcome. The final redaction of that long narrative monarchy and nationhood happened in exile.
In his book ‘A failure of nerve – leadership in the age of quick fix’, rabbi, therapist and business consultant, Edwin Freidman describes our context as ‘leadership toxic’ and comments that ‘when anxiety reaches certain thresholds even the most learned ideas can begin to function as superstition.’ (p1. 2007)

Posted by David Runcorn at Saturday, 13 December 2014 at 9:34am GMT

It’s alarming to hear a bishop refer to the servant leadership modelled by Christ the Good Shepherd as ‘the old wet liberal ethos’. And the bishops are kidding themselves if they think the proposals in the Lord Green report are cutting edge. The ‘heroic’ model of individual leadership which was current in Lord Green’s heyday is no longer secular best practice even in the context of big business where latest thinking is far more engaged with ideas of trust based and distributed leadership. The sadness is that there is a really big rich conversation which the Church and the business sector could have together, with benefit to both. For that to happen the bishops would need to engage with younger leaders not just the men of their own generation and older.

The bishop is mistaken if he believes that concerns about these proposals are only being voiced by what he calls ‘the training and CMD industry which has a vested interested in keeping the existing system going'. The debate is now on. Directors of Ministry and CMD Advisors deliver much excellent learning including leadership development of a more contemporary and authentically Christian kind than Green offers. We are ambitious for further change and improvement but we are starved of resources. The Church of England is responsible for delivering CMD for around 18,000 people. There is no national funding for this and never has been. The Lord Green group is proposing to spend £2.3 million on 150 bishops and deans and would be bishops and deans whom bishops will select, and has commissioned business schools as the providers. The group is made up of bishops and people with business backgrounds but has nobody with adult education or CMD expertise or indeed any ordained person apart from the bishops. The funding has been approved by the bishops outside of synodical structures. In the light of this the bishop’s remark about ‘vested interest’ seems a bit boomerang shaped to me.

Posted by Jane Charman at Saturday, 13 December 2014 at 10:58am GMT

Quelle Surprise! It was only a matter of time before this report was unleashed. Yet another example of Justin Welby's 'Cultural Revolution' where everything is swept clean, where those with sustained experience are done away with, and a 'new way of being church' (fashioned in the image and likeness of the corporate culture of the PLCs) is imposed on us. How on earth did we reach this point where the nature of vocation and leadership strategy has come adrift from its theological moorings? It comes in a week when yet another priest has been given a P45 (from the Ministry Division, no less). I can only applaud Martyn Percy's analysis of the content and methodology of this report, and the woefully myopic composition of the review panel. 'Folk like us' indeed.

Under this system, we would never have had prophets like David Jenkins and David Sheppard; no poets and visionaries like John V Taylor and Rowan Williams; no agile theological minds like Peter Selby and Stephen Sykes; no people of holiness like Simon Barrington-Ward and Michael Fisher.

To allow a group like this to come up with a proposal that will, effectively, produce grey, corporate robots is as arrogant as it is foolish. And, while the liturgical commission is set the task of re-writing the ordinal in the light of this re-designation of the episcopal character, who will be bearing the human cost of this high-achieving culture of the Gospel of Success, where (despite all the rhetoric to the contrary) there will be a clear distinctions made between those who are 'on' the track, those who are 'not on' it - and worse, those who were 'on' it but have been chucked off?

Posted by Simon R at Saturday, 13 December 2014 at 12:28pm GMT

I didn't describe servant leadership as wet liberal. As I said, it's both/and. But the expression of leadership in the Church has not exactly been great over the past years.

There has always been a list of people who were suggested for appointment to senior posts - what this proposal does is to abolish the old preferment list (which was unfocussed and delivered just a list of names) and make it clear that we will put resources into training and developing people for senior leadership.

And what everyone seems to be missing is that there is a parallel proposal in one of the other task group reports to put additional funding nationally into helping dioceses develop their CMD programmes for the rest of the clergy (and possibly laity too). The "let's put the boot into this proposal because we can't influence it" approach has skewed the debate. When the Resourcing Ministerial Education Report is out and placed alongside this proposal, then people will be able to see that there is a comprehensive approach to the development of the priestly skills of all our clergy. But meanwhile, why not just carry on putting the boot in without an informed understanding of the big picture?

Posted by Pete Broadbent at Saturday, 13 December 2014 at 1:15pm GMT

Very well put Jane. Thank you. And deserves a thoughtful response.

Posted by David Runcorn at Saturday, 13 December 2014 at 1:47pm GMT

Pete Broadbent:

"... the rest of the clergy"

says it all really.

Pete, you are the second bishop I've seen railing against those who don't like this proposal and branding them as not worth listening to for some reason.

Those of us who have worked in organisations where 'management training' has been the path to the top do have something valuable to say about how the no doubt excellent principles propounded in training courses manifest on the ground in situations where real people are involved rather than case studies.

Posted by Pam Smith at Saturday, 13 December 2014 at 1:53pm GMT

"When the Resourcing Ministerial Education Report is out and placed alongside this proposal, then people will be able to see that there is a comprehensive approach to the development of the priestly skills of all our clergy. But meanwhile, why not just carry on putting the boot in without an informed understanding of the big picture? "

Perhaps it would have been more helpful for the Resourcing Ministerial Education Report to have been released at the same time. I hadn't heard of its existence (nor had I heard of these proposals until they came out in CT yesterday). If we are ill informed, then it might be because no one has informed us.
I would have thought, however, that the members of the panel that produced this report might value the input of clergy and laity who can contribute the view from "ground level" so to speak. It's not about putting the boot in, but about it being recognised that we might know a thing or two about the life of the Church (perhaps even that we might know things that the members of the panel don't.)

Posted by Anne2 at Saturday, 13 December 2014 at 2:18pm GMT

Principled disagreement is not 'putting the boot in', and being told not to criticise because you don't know what is going on is not the most reassuring thing to hear from a bishop. Ten years of ordained ministry, in parish (I grew it!), chaplaincy, and even as a part-time member of the 'training industry' might entitle one to have an opinion. It may even give one a bit of the 'big picture'. Instead of ad hominem dismissals, it would be refreshing to hear supporters of this report addressing the substantive objections raised by the likes of Martyn Percy, or relating their findings to the biblical and theological work done by the FAOC on senior leadership.

Posted by Brett Gray at Saturday, 13 December 2014 at 3:04pm GMT

That's because none of the reports are out yet! This one's only being discussed because it's been leaked. And doesn't require Synodical debate (though no doubt there will be some of that...)

The reports have only just been to House of Bishops, Archbishops' Council and Church Commissioners Board of Governors. They are timetabled for February Synod.

Posted by Pete Broadbent at Saturday, 13 December 2014 at 3:06pm GMT

I thought that Bishops were supposed to be chief pastors, not chief executives? Why on earth don't we employ managers to manage and priests and bishops to minister? And who asked me if my part of the £2million should be spent on this folly?

Posted by Richard Ashby at Saturday, 13 December 2014 at 5:05pm GMT

What Anne2 said - there are some basic things which are frequently done poorly in the CofE because people are never trained for it. One example is chairing meetings. Considering how long we spend in PCCs, Synods and various committees, you'd think the clergy might get some training in it, but no.

I also agree with your point on talent spotting - this a key role of the ordained leadership of the CofE, all the more so as clergy numbers dwindle but parish units are maintained, vicars cannot be the focal leader in the churches they oversee. Again, there is a lamentable lack of training for the leadership caste within the CofE in identifying, developing and deploying the gifts and skills of church members.

And doing this stuff well is good pastoral care, it is good priestly ministry. There is no either/or between good management and leadership practice, and faithful ministry.

Posted by David Keen at Saturday, 13 December 2014 at 5:58pm GMT

Holy talent pool Batman, what a great reality TV series this could be. Just think of the royalty ( money not crown) potential. Given just the usual level of intrigue, gossip, and manipulation in the church, this could make Survivor look like amateur hour. Who gets fired from the talent pool this week?Each episode could end with ” You are out of the pool” like for instance, ” Durham, you are OUT of the pool”. Needs a catchy title though like “Exit Cathedra” or ‘Parable of the Talent-less” or “Pawn Your Bishop”. Where is C.S. Lewis when you need him?

Posted by Rod Gillis at Saturday, 13 December 2014 at 6:19pm GMT

Excuse me, but is this the same Bishop Broadbent who comments on other cleric's radio contributions without having heard them or read the text? If it is, he's got a nerve to berate those who are now commenting on the 'Talent Management' report. At least they've read it!

Posted by Commentator at Saturday, 13 December 2014 at 8:54pm GMT

Then, Pete, if there's been a leak, why don't you encourage the rapid publication of the other reports so we can see "the big picture"?

The criticisms of the make up of the group who put this report together, however, remain. As do Martyn Percy's animadversions regarding the lack of theological basis to their work and their reliance on disputed management and leadership theory.

Posted by Jeremy Pemberton at Saturday, 13 December 2014 at 9:10pm GMT

I completely agree with +Pete that people need an informed understanding of these proposals in order to discuss them well. I have put some time and effort into trying to achieve that.

The bishops received the Lord Green report at the end of July. By September the proposals were beginning to be rolled out. I was given the report by my bishop early in October and was immediately struck by the wide ranging and controversial nature of the contents. At General Synod in early November I asked how Synod members could access the report and to whom they should address any questions and comments. We were told that a 'digest' of the report would be circulated in January. I then asked whether the bishops thought that given the important nature of the report there ought to be a discussion at the February Synod. We were told that it was not for the bishops to decide.

At the end of November after repeated requests the report was circulated to Directors of Ministry in time for our annual meeting. +Ely, Caroline Boddington and Christopher McClaverty who is the main architect of the report joined us for an hour. We shared concerns and asked them to pause the process until there could be some wider consultation. The answer was a categorical no. We were told that the Church of England is in crisis, the need urgent, the new direction non negotiable. If people are uncertain about the proposals it is because they are change averse and displaying resistance which needs to be overcome by senior leaders. Christopher McClaverty described our concerns as 'turbulence' which he interpreted as 'a sign that change management is working'. It was an extremely poor encounter which raised more questions than it answered.

I have looked at the draft agenda for the February meeting of General Synod and the Lord Green report is not on it. My analysis is that far from having confidence in the proposals, the bishops are very uncertain that they would get synodical support so have set things up in a way that, as +Pete says, 'doesn't require Synodical debate'. As he also observes, there are other ways of getting matters debated in Synod and no doubt some of those will now be attempted.

I want to ask: why are we all behaving like this? +Pete is correct in saying that the debate is now skewed. He puts it down to what he calls the 'let's put the boot into this proposal because we can't influence it approach' but I believe that clergy and lay members of the Church have both a right and a responsibility to be part of this discussion. People have tried hard to engage but the elastic of patience has snapped and they are now finding other less constructive ways of surfacing their concerns.

If anyone would like to show some pastoral leadership at this point that would be very helpful.

Posted by Jane Charman at Saturday, 13 December 2014 at 9:33pm GMT

Given the leak, it would certainly be strategic (pace, my Lord of Willesden) to facilitate a discussion of the other reports which, allegedly, don't encourage one to despair of this one. That way, one could, allegedly, see that this wasn't a pile of secularist, out-dated nonsense but, rather, the Kingdom-focused, spiritual gift to which the Bishop alludes.

Posted by Richard at Saturday, 13 December 2014 at 10:06pm GMT

Two questions for Bishop Pete:
1) If we want a moral, ethical and prophetic vision of leadership, do we really want to ask a banker?
2) If the report is a leak that hasn't been to Synod yet, how come it's also being reported that £2,000,000 of the Synod budget has been re-allocated to train the 150.

And one observation. I can't help thinking the 150 is a cut price version of the macho 300. Can we have Gerard Butler playing Cantuar, please?

Posted by Doug Chaplin at Saturday, 13 December 2014 at 10:27pm GMT

Thank you Martyn Percy - you have spoken out as a sentinel watching ... full of wisdom and willing to speak out.

Posted by julie mintern at Saturday, 13 December 2014 at 10:35pm GMT

Wow, that's hit a nerve! Anyone would think this is rocket science. Tiresome theologians and no doubt turbulent priests are on the warpath galvanising the troops to pull up the drawbridge and repel all morally decayed secular influences. That is precisely the problem the report is trying to address. It was not a Royal Commission, although given the severity of the CofE's problems a fully-fledged Royal Commission style report might have been in order. The problem that it is trying to solve is the inexorable decline of the Church of England. Given that there is no bidder to rescue the church (at least not a human one), the church must take action itself. The notion that the answer was to do all this in time honoured fashion through the General Synod (with the usual suspects pontificating) is laughable. This report deals with the critical need to fix the leadership of the church (not an overnight task). It is not about ecclesiastical preferment per se, but about equipping future leaders to ensure that the church has the people it needs to lead it into spiritual and numerical growth, without which there will be no CofE in 40 years. It also deals with the fact that existing leaders need a wake-up call in how they exercise leadership and model collaborative ministry. In what is one of the flattest organisational structures there is, clergy (not just those with potential for senior office) need to be equipped and empowered. MDR needs to work. Bishops need to submit to MDR. CMD provision needs to be sharper. The clergy of not one single diocese believe that their CMD is effective. There needs to be proper accountability. It's basic management to a John Lewis (or dare I say HSBC). But with no HR and limited strategic capability in the dioceses, making progress is hard work. The expectations placed on church leaders are not difficult to formulate. And by the way, could bishops please be reminded that the laity represent the most significant resource available to the church and its mission and yet in few parishes is there any evidence of collaborative working?

Posted by Anthony Archer at Sunday, 14 December 2014 at 8:57am GMT

This proposal is dreadful. I have little to add to Martyn Piercy's and Jane Charman's excellent critique and other critical comments already made.In particular, Martyn Piercy is right that the proposed process will concentrate power in a few unaccountable hands. Anthony Archer is right about the need for change and better training but this is not the way to go about it. Importing an out-dated and discredited managerialism is not the way to solve the problems of the CofE. Moreover,these proposal disempower the laity. I assume that he is being ironic when he says 'Tiresome theologians and no doubt turbulent priests are on the warpath galvanising the troops to pull up the drawbridge and repel all morally decayed secular influences.' If he has not, he has mis-read what is being said.

I have been here before. Higher education, in which I worked for 35 years, has been infected by the same disease of managerialism and aping large corporations. This has been successful in creating very large institutions but has it actually led to an improvement in the quality of education? I don't think it has because people have lost sight of what a university is for. Supporting the economy has come to be seen as the university's sole purpose, certainly by government. What we have ended up with is large top-heavy over-managed institutions with fewer people actually teaching. As an executive dean, I was thought to be wildly eccentric to insist on continuing to teach.

What is proposed will take the church in the same direction. The Chief Executive model is flawed and will not solve the very real problems facing the church It is disappointing that Bishop Pete's response seems to be to tell us all to be good school children and just do what 'Sir' says. I sometimes wonder how much longer I can continue to be an active member of the CofE.

Posted by Daniel Lamont at Sunday, 14 December 2014 at 11:56am GMT

This Report, we are told, was written in response to the decline in attendance across the Church of England. We are told that without this investment the imminent death of the Church of England is unavoidable.

How do those proposing this approach see the newly qualified, strategic bishops reversing this decline? What can a bishop do to encourage the local youth to attend church? How will their MBAs enable them to provide an incarnational presence in every community?

Change in the Church has to come from the bottom. Giving more training to those who are rarely seen in parish will do nothing to address the problem of declining numbers.

Posted by Richard at Sunday, 14 December 2014 at 12:04pm GMT

Anthony Archer:

"Tiresome theologians and no doubt turbulent priests are on the warpath galvanising the troops to pull up the drawbridge and repel all morally decayed secular influences. That is precisely the problem the report is trying to address. "

Wow, that's certainly put anyone who thinks they have anything to add to the debate in their place.

Is this the kind of 'change management' that will be advocated on the management courses the elite clergy will be sent on? They do realise that not only the laity but a significant number of the clergy they will be managing are volunteers and - unlike paid employees at the bottom of the heap - can leave without any notice if they no longer support the leadership? Or do they just think those people - of whom I am one - are expendable in the march towards progress?

Incidentally, I realise that the C of E moves like a might tortoise at the best of times, but solving immediate problems over a 20 year period by training up people to deal with them seems a bit indirect, even for us. If the problem has been identified as poor HR and accountability practices, why do those things take 20 years and a new set of people to sort out?

It wouldn't, for example, take 20 years to introduce good equal opportunities practice, for example. Or will we still be clinging on to our historic right to prejudice in the envisaged brave new world?

Getting the right person for the job is made very much more difficult if discrimination is enshrined in an organisation so maybe we need to tackle that at the same time?

Posted by Pam Smith at Sunday, 14 December 2014 at 12:28pm GMT

As both a tiresome theologian, and even a turbulent priest, I do not dispute the seriousness of the church's situation. It's the proposed solution - borrowing the tired clothes of a discredited form of capitalism - that I don't find credible.

And whenever someone tells me that the emergency is such that discussion is not possible, every alarm bell goes off. The language of senior leadership having to push through the 'turbulence' of objection? Well I thought they weren't supposed to lord it over us, like the Gentiles do...

Posted by Brett Gray at Sunday, 14 December 2014 at 2:15pm GMT

Let's try to reiterate and clarify.

1. This is about the process for those possibly called to be bishops, deans, leaders of mission agencies and large churches (personally I'd add archdeacons, but that's a quibble). This process has never been subject to Synodical procedures (perhaps there is an argument for saying it might, and that's open to debate) - it's entirely about what is called the senior appointments procedure (I wish we could find better terminology). People may remember the Perry Report and other material on senior appointments. So the argument from folk involved in CMD that they have a stake in all this has no precedent. The training of Bishops is overseen by the Archbishops and a panel of the House of Bishops. You may not like that, but that's how it is.

2. The money for this comes from the Church Commissioners. It is their responsibility to fund bishops (and cathedrals and pensions).

3. The preparation and training for bishops has previously been pretty crap. Most of the skills you need for ministry in the public square, strategic planning, change management, people and HR skills, enabling proper use of power and self-differentiation had to be acquired elsewhere (either through transferable skills or seeking out learning opportunities). Most of my training in this area came from being involved in local authorities and charities. Similarly, opportunities for nurturing the spiritual life have to be sought out. Bishops' training has never been good. Perhaps it shows!!

4. The CofE needs a radical shake-up if it is to survive and grow. That requires a new approach to ministerial training and development. The foolish mistakes of the Hind Report, tick-box training, GCSE approaches to POT and Min Div bureaucracy need to be jettisoned, so that we can select and equip priests who can engage with verve and prayerful collaborative missional enterprise in the task of re-evangelisation and catechesis in the context of C21 England. That's why there is a report coming which will address that, including providing additional funding for CMD/CME. We are in last chance saloon, and I have no wish to lead in mission in a declining church. We have to turn it round.

Posted by Pete Broadbent at Sunday, 14 December 2014 at 2:24pm GMT

"The CofE needs a radical shake up"
+Pete you are right. And I would agree with your views of the Hind report.
I do hope that there will be some radical and well resourced suggestions for clergy training and CMD.
The parish/benefice level is where the most impact could be made. Also in University Chaplaincies (where my vocation was nurtured). And it not just BIG churches that matter. My first inkling of a vocation to priesthood began in our small daughter church in a North East mining village.
Our bishops and other senior leaders do need to be properly trained to have the most effective impact in encouraging church growth in every sense of that word, and certainly numerically. But those skills will need to have been tried and tested on the coal face of parish ministry if this is going to work. It is as much there, with well run and resourced CMD, that our future senior leaders will be formed as on any "fancy" high flying schemes and leadership schools.

Posted by paul richardson at Sunday, 14 December 2014 at 3:50pm GMT

"so that we can select and equip priests who can engage with verve and prayerful collaborative missional enterprise in the task of re-evangelisation and catechesis in the context of C21 England" Pete Broadbent

Which reads just like one of those leaden mission statements produced by a group Area Sales Managers in an off-site meeting at the Ramada Ruislip. At least it avoided the words 'world-class' and 'solutions'.

Posted by Laurence Cunnington at Sunday, 14 December 2014 at 4:33pm GMT

A lot has been said about the need for the Church of England to grow. But what sort of growth do we want? Churches full of angry consumers demanding to be managed rather than served are unlikely to be used by the Lord for the conversion of England. Would it not be better to resource Bible teachers and pastors rather than managers? It might lead to a smaller Church, but a smaller Church might be better equipped to witness to the love of God in Jesus Christ because it might be able to be more authentically itself.

Posted by Liam Beadle at Sunday, 14 December 2014 at 4:52pm GMT

The outstanding Leader in the Church Times is clinical in its diagnosis: '171 mentions of leader(ship), no mentions of pastoral' says it all. The executive-managers who have shaped the Report need to face some questions and some issues that flow from these. There are three questions and three key issues -

The questions are:

Q 1: How does a group of non-academics obtain a £2 million Church of England budget for the education and training of senior clergy, when the authors are simply not adequately qualified to shape and design any curriculum?

Q 2: It is surely a conflict of interest that some authors of the report effectively propose their own new job description, widening their powers?

Q 3: This was an unrepresentative Task Force & no mandate from wider church - yet already implementing their policies: so where is the accountability in the CofE?

The three issues are:

Issue 1: The executive managers presumably excluded relevant academic experts (i.e., theology, education, leadership) to increase their own powers and positions. They presumably excluded these voices for fear of being out-narrated.
Issue 2: The mechanisms to challenge this domination by executive managers need to be thought through. Presumably this could be done through synod, or perhaps the bishops themselves.

Issue 3: The preferment of ‘executive-managerislism’ over and against the historic forms of church governance does need extensive debate and challenge.

I find it extraordinary that the alpha-male 'executive manager rhetoric' should so dominate the Report. But this is perhaps not surprising given that ordained women were excluded from the core group within the Task Force. The Report has, therefore, unwittingly proffered a kind of soft misogyny - and just at the point when women bishops are about to be part of the leading of the church. Where were the feminist voices – from leadership theory, educational and vocational studies, theology and ecclesiology – in the Task Force?

Christopher McClaverty describing concerns over the Green Report as 'turbulence', which he interpreted as 'a sign that change management is working' is utterly reprehensible and disingenuous. It’s the kind of thing Putin might say about Ukraine. The time has surely come to have the Report canned, and a proper debate on leadership and this resourcing initiated. The Green Report represents, alas, an aggressive short-cut initiated by a powerful and unaccountable elite.

Posted by Martyn Percy at Sunday, 14 December 2014 at 5:31pm GMT

At several recent CME presentations we have been presented with the demographic timebomb that confronts many of our churches. Many of us struggle with getting across the idea of change when as ministers we are the youngest on our PCCs. I can talk about mission till I'm blue in the face but it's maintainence that gets the people excited!

I for one would wish for a highly trained and motivated senior leadership capable of motivating for mission those of us on the front line - something that has hitherto been sadly lacking. And I agree with +Pete that this should include archdeacons who for the most part are much more likely to be closer to parish clergy than our Bishops and certainly Deans.

Posted by Fr Paul at Sunday, 14 December 2014 at 5:44pm GMT

Many thanks to Martyn Percy for an incisive and thorough critique of these proposals. They represent a tragic failure of vision for the church, but given the composition of the task group appointed to provide them, it is no surprise. Their expertise is not gained in building up the kingdom of God. The "system" will only begin to work when our bishops come from the very large existing pool of priests, pastors and prophets - and when they are elected, not appointed in secret by an unaccountable commission. Get rid of the managers now, and put the resources into the front line of ministry - in the parishes where God's people are already at work building his church.

Posted by Alan Marsh at Sunday, 14 December 2014 at 8:37pm GMT

I am so pleased that +Pete has clarified the issues in this way. It just shows even more clearly how misguided the approach of the Green report is. To respond to his points:

1. The choosing and training of Bishops does not belong to the archbishops. That approach merely buys into an inappropriate hierarchical model. For most of Church history, bishops have been elected, indicating that the people of God as a whole have an interest in who offers them oversight. Green made a crass error in omitting reference to archdeacons, who are so often the pivotal people between local communities and the wider church.

2. Church Commissioners have a responsibility to fund bishops - but this money is being used to prepare a Talent Pool which, as is explicitly mentioned, will not all be offered senior appointments. The legality of using the money in this way is questionable.

3. Previous training may have been "crap": so why did those in authority turn down a recent request to improve the system? Instead, this review was comissioned from a bunch of people who seized the chance to impose a new style at exorbitant cost. It is as though they think that, by using a new provider, you will be able to turn old wineskins into new. I am fully behind equipping bishops with appropriate strategic and management skills. But the Green approach is based on a model of "heroic leadership" - as though the bishop, newly trained, will be able to transform the culture alone. This is naivety allied to arrogance.

4. Again, I want to say that +Pete is right: what is needed within the Church of England is a greater aspiration for creative, courageous, insightful risk-takers - both lay and clergy. So, who on earth decided that the best way to achieve that was to spend over £2 million in the next 18 months on training a group of (largely) male 55+ year olds? Why is this money not being invested in people (lay and ordained) who have 20 years of influencing ahead of them? Why is this money not being spent on developing the training capacity within the church (rather than on those working for secular organisations)?


If there are answers to these, and many other, questions raised by this correspondence, why is there not opportunity being given to debate this in February? The Green report is being protected from closer scrutiny. It is becoming a weakness in the whole package of reform that Lambeth is pushing forward. The risk that is being taken (by not enabling open discussion of Green) could damage and derail what the church so vitally needs.

Posted by Robert Cotton at Sunday, 14 December 2014 at 9:11pm GMT

Pete, I’ve seen the Resourcing Ministerial Education report to which you’ve been referring. It’s a mixed bag with some proposals that people will like and others that they may find controversial but the important thing is that all stakeholders were consulted and the report will come to General Synod for scrutiny so whatever is decided will be properly owned by all.

Assuming it is agreed, it looks as though there will be some money from the same source as the Lord Green money for a number of strands of work but my concern is not really about whether there will be lollipops for other clergy as well as bishops and deans. My concern is more to do with what is being modelled by the bishops in taking this piece of work which specifically relates to themselves out of synodical structures so that others are not able to scrutinise it or contribute to it. I don’t at all buy the line that things to do with bishops are not anyone else’s business but I think the kind of bishops we get is everybody’s business, particularly in a time of challenge and change. A bishop’s ministry is not a thing functioning away all by itself but all ministries including those of lay people interanimate each other and only make sense in the context of the whole. I think the current culture of the Wash House, than which there is no more fiercely guarded silo in the Church of England, unhelpfully obscures this important ecclesiological truth.

I have helped train lots of clergy including bishops and what I observe is that quite a few of us are not naturally collaborative. In training we acquire the language and some of the outward demeanour of collegiality but it is sometimes more to do with compliance with what has become an accepted modus of ministry than something which is deeply felt or held. If bishops now start to model a way of working which deliberately avoids transparency and accountability then I think people will take note of that and they will understand that these qualities are no longer admired or required in those who are going to be our leaders. And many clergy who have always found it a bit of a bore to have to consult and take others’ views into consideration will quite quickly cast off those habits. I do not see how this will help the Church. Shared ministry is our theological starting point as well as our necessary future and for that we need leaders who have collaborative working in their DNA not a new generation of heroic individualists.

Posted by Jane Charman at Sunday, 14 December 2014 at 9:20pm GMT

Bishop Pete Broadbent says that he has no wish to lead in mission in a declining church and that 'we' have to turn it round. The trouble is that there is no evidence that providing mini MBAs for a handful of middle-aged conservative white men is going to be any more effective that the various ill fated 'missions' of the past half century. The much heralded 'decade of evangelism' sank without trace. The current visioning in Chichester will go the same way. 'Growth' is not dependent on the possession of half baked qualifications, mixed with a handful of dubious and discredited management platitudes borrowed from dubious management consultants. Neither is it measurable by bums on seats. If it is to be so measured there are going to be a lot of Bishops out of a job as they fail to measure up to the performance targets which this approach will inevitably lead to.

Is this where ++Justin's famed business prowess is leading us to? God help us all indeed.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Sunday, 14 December 2014 at 10:05pm GMT

We need to keep this in proportion. This is not seismic. ++Ebor said this to his fellow bishops in the College before the Green Report was discussed at the September residential: "The changes to talent management and leadership development are undergirded by our conviction that we have a particular opportunity in this moment in our common life to equip current and future strategic leaders. We look forward to this important discussion through which we hope to enrich the framework that has been developed and to explore our various roles in its implementation." And let's not get carried away by spending £2 million over 18 months (which the CC are perfectly at liberty to allocate). It represents £33,333 per diocese per annum, a drop in the bucket in training and development terms, epecially when most diocese are hardly spending anything themselves. I see no evidence of a 'new style', merely doing the common sense stuff that should have been embraced decades ago. This is about getting real and by the way let's not complicate it by now discussing how bishops are nominated!

Posted by Anthony Archer at Sunday, 14 December 2014 at 10:18pm GMT

£2m for training bishops and deans, but still £zero for archdeacons? Mind you our totally home grown training and support networks seem to work very well, so maybe not all bad..

Posted by Martin Gorick at Sunday, 14 December 2014 at 10:31pm GMT

Though history does not repeat itself, it rhymes from time to time. We have had several waves of managerialism since the war - the autocratic managerialism of Fisher; the crypto-Thatcherite managerialism of Carey, and now this. Each wave was destined to crash against a wall of hostility and indifference. However, this new wave is different - whereas Fisher wished to whip the Church into some semblance of order or Carey wished to goad it into growth, what this latest wave is about is the 'orderly management of decline'. In short, bishops need training in the husbanding of increasingly scarce resources. As such this scheme has some merit, even if the challenges are palpable - not least in pastoral terms (as the dean of Christ Church has indicated).

It pained me to read Richard Ashby's last comment on 'the current visioning of Chichester'. Of course, it is much more likely than not that the recent attempts by Martin Warner and his team to revive the life of that diocese may not succeed. However, he/they must be commended warmly for trying so hard. Dr Warner has been staying in each deanery; he has been working exceptionally hard to familiarise himself (and be seen) in almost every parish; he has been assembling a formidable dossier of local information. And, as far as I am aware, there has been a some [considerable?] improvement in the morale of many Sussex clergy. In Chichester terms this amounts to something approaching a revolution.

Posted by J Drever at Monday, 15 December 2014 at 12:58am GMT

Will the most desired outcome of this training programme for 'hot-shots' in the Church of England be a clutch of MBA's (Theol.Com) for the Winners. God perish the thought. Surely we have enough competent Lay People with the required business acumen?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 15 December 2014 at 4:22am GMT

The recent Chichester Clergy Conference at Canterbury (how's that for alliteration) has done much to boost the morale of the Chichester Diocesan clergy. It was by all accounts an outstanding success and has done much to encourage the clergy to go for growth and make an even greater reality the conference theme - "Thy kingdom come".

Posted by Father David at Monday, 15 December 2014 at 10:15am GMT

Whilst sympathising with Martyn Percy's critique, this does all look rather less dramatic than made out (particularly given the likely practical outworking in the deep sands of the CofE), and I do feel +Pete deserves some sympathy for single-handed defence! But two perhaps minor points to add:

1. Most critics seem to be saying 'the bishops are dreadful, and oh no, now they have found themselves a way to become worse'. Might it not be that a very few senior people are thinking 'the bishops are dreadful; how on earth can we make them less so?'

2. The idea of providing specific nurture for those likely to exercise senior leadership is surely good, whatever the argument over what that should be. But no-one seems yet ready to admit that there may not be people good enough to be nurtured out there. I can recall several years ago looking out over the Chrism Eucharist with my training incumbent, and agreeing with him that we could not see any potential bishops at all. And there is a persistent trickle leaking from the CNC to the effect that the candidates being offered are just not very impressive. The major worry is surely not that the 150 might get the wrong training, but that there may not be 150 up-and-coming clergy (female, male, black, white or pink) capable of the senior leadership the Church needs, however trained and developed.

Posted by Neil Patterson at Monday, 15 December 2014 at 10:55am GMT

Pete Broadbent says the CofE needs a radical shake-up. Too right. But another 'backs against the wall, 'don't panic, Captain Mainwaring' strategy, which smacks of Justin Welby on the rebound is not the answer. This is yet another example of a dictat from Lambeth Palace to the Church Commissioners to open the purse strings, devoid of any consultation, multi-disciplinary wisdom, and what looks like total contempt for accountability to the wider church by those at the top. If this is the model of episcope we are to expect as the outcome of the Green proposals, be afraid; be very afraid. It raises huge questions about the ecclesial character of Anglicanism, and owes more to a papal model than any understanding of being primus inter pares. More to the point, no-one seems to be challenging this model in the H of Bs.

The Cultural revolution referred to already is not far off the mark, as any of the victims of the Lambeth Palace purge will know. In the original cultural revolution, they picked-off the intellectuals first (the composition of the Green steering group). Then there was a series of contrived ruses to get rid of leading figures deemed responsible for past failures (is this why one bishop recently referred to the Green initiative as 'the committee to get shot of Caroline Boddington?) All experience and memory of the past is then eradicated in a process which renders people expendable.

Of course this nonsense has to be resisted, or else we will end up with a CofE in the image of Justin Welby. If this is an example of what Pete Broadbent thinks as being the apotheosis of how to "re-evangelise England and let God build his kingdom here" the future does indeed look bleak. And let's not forget, the Cultural Revolution is now thoroughly discredited and has become an iconic cultural embarrassment.

Posted by James A at Monday, 15 December 2014 at 10:59am GMT

In the Church in Wales we have announced a similar amount of money set by to promote creative and innovative mission and ministry on the ground, within dioceses, preparing for the year 2020 (celebrating our centenary of disesablishment). I've read the report (Church of England 'brand', really??) and agree with the critique especially of the astonishing and uncritical acceptance of outdated and individualistic managerialism. I'm interested though that in all the talk of ensuring the diversity of the candidates there is, as far as I can see, no mention at all of class. There is little engagement with how society is changing in the report regarding religious (or any other form of communitarian activity) commitment. No amount of training, money or 'leadership' is going to turn back the clock. We have to engage with society as it is. I can't see how growth can be measured in numbers. Can you really measure the influence of a church on an area or how it is bringing in the kingdom (with ecumenical partners)in a community?

Posted by Manon Ceridwen James at Monday, 15 December 2014 at 12:11pm GMT

I've been browsing through the websites of the providers mentioned, and I honestly thought they'd mistyped the fees quoted for their MBAs - for a one year, full time course, they range from about £40,000 - £68,000. That seems rather expensive to me. There are cheaper options - Edge Hill is £8,200, Bristol is £15,500, and Exeter is £22,500. They also seem to be focussed in their advertising on the range of career options open to graduates, and the enormous amount of money they'll be earning soon after graduating (of necessity to justify the fees). Others, including Exeter and Bristol, include talk of sustainability and ethics - but that's not mentioned by all of them.

Even short courses aren't cheap - a 5 day course from London Business School:
'Leading Businesses into the Future
Recalibrate your role and your organisation to ensure it is truly resilient and built for the future.
You explore four key pillars that will significantly enhance your leadership capabilities by building collaborative capacity, disrupting with new perspectives, asking great questions and engaging with meaning.'
is £10,500, including meals but not accommodation.

These courses seem like highly profitable cash cows for the universities running them - given that MAs from the 'CME industry' seem to range around £4,500 (St. Mellitus) - £6,000 (Sarum), I really hope that anyone commissioning these providers ensure value for money.

(The annual cost of around £785,000 is comparable to St. Mellitus' College annual running costs of £835,000 for 175 ordinands and 600 people taking its courses.)

Interesting article at:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/drewhansen/2011/10/04/why-mba-business-school-not-leaders/

Simon Western's work on Leadership is also excellent - these proposals seem to combine his controller discourse with a messiah discourse, rather than his eco-leadership discourse. More information at:
http://www.simonwestern.com/leadership.asp
http://www.simonwestern.com/pdf/leadershipacriticaltext.pdf

Jeremy

Posted by Jeremy Fagan at Monday, 15 December 2014 at 12:58pm GMT

Neil Patterson's 2nd point, regarding numbers, leads to some interesting conclusions...

In 2009 (the latest figures I could easily find) there were 564 people ordained. If the Talent Pool is to accept 50 people per year, this would represent around 9% of a year's intake. Assuming that stipendary clergy are more likely to reach the requirements for entry then the percentage will be much higher for that group.

I realise that 2009 might have been exceptionally low (or high), so there is an assumption here, but the numbers suggest that 50 per year joining the Pool might be a very significant percentage of a particular ordination intake (although in the fulness of time rather than straight away, obviously).

Similarly, there are usually far fewer than 50 new deans or bishops appointed in a given year. I accept that some other church leaders might benefit from the training, but in 2013 there were 5 bishops consecrated (Manchester, Tewkesbury, Ebbsfleet, St Germans & Beverley) and 4 Deans instituted (Coventry, Leicester, Bradford & Guildford). If this were an average year then we could expect 41 of the 50 entrants to the Talent Pool in any given year to never become a bishop or a dean.

As I have stated above, £2M is an extremely large amount of money. Given the fact that over 80% of the alumni of the course will never be in the senior positions for which the training is recommended perhaps serious consideration should be given to spending the money in a more focused way to the very small number of people selected for this sort of preferment.

Posted by Richard at Monday, 15 December 2014 at 1:56pm GMT

Nothing I said in my previous post is intended to diminish the achievements of either +Martin Warner, who has indeed invested a lot of time and energy in his first year to meeting and enthusing his people and clergy, nor indeed the Bishop of Lewes who is a very effective communicator. If both can indeed raise the morale and effect a revolution within the Diocese, then good for them. However I can't help wondering whether this approach isn't much better for motivating clergy and thus their people and be more effective in driving mission and perhaps even growth than the best laid plans and 'strategies.


Posted by Richard Ashby at Monday, 15 December 2014 at 4:08pm GMT

In accepting the critique of this report, already ably expressed by Martyn Percy, Jane Charman, Michael Sadgrove and so many others, I am struck by one thing. That is the degree to which this whole project smacks of the self-selecting culture of the public school-Oxbridge-corporate industry trilogy. Justin Welby is a product of all three and the Green commission shows him operating true to form.

The primal survival skills of every public schoolboy are building strong defences; creating your own inner circle; making friends with those who most naturally share your world-view; exploiting friendships to the full; and, most telling, the side-stepping of those who question your confident assertions.

No wonder the most consistent criticism has been the lack of diversity and inclusivity in the composition of the steering group and the proposed beneficiaries of this scheme. These proposals can only compound the perception that many of us have formed: that a small, unaccountable group of people are seeking to tighten their grip on power; and impose an ill-conceived solution to the C of E's current demographic and financial pressures.

Posted by Michael Chancellor at Monday, 15 December 2014 at 6:27pm GMT

One of the saddest things about the leaking of this report is that it appears to have entirely diverted attention from the report on food poverty published a few days earlier. Of the two issues, I don't think there can be too much doubt about which one our Lord would regard as having the greater priority.

Posted by Malcolm Dixon at Monday, 15 December 2014 at 6:32pm GMT

Well written Richard Ashby, you've hit the nail on the head with regard to the diocese of Chichester. Exemplary pastoral episcopal care is worth far more than a thousand business and management courses.

Posted by Father David at Monday, 15 December 2014 at 7:35pm GMT

"No recognised scholar with expertise in management or leadership from the academic world formed part of the core working party". Martyn Percy

Well, I cannot remotely claim to be a recognised scholar in this area, I do have a PhD from Waikato Management School, plus a Post Grad Diploma in the Management of Nonprofit Organisations, so perhaps I may be allowed a contribution to this important debate.

Like others, I would commend +Pete for his staunch defence of the initiative, but feel that both he and the writers of the report are missing a vital point. Yes, indeed Bishops and other senior leaders are very likely to benefit from skilled training in leadership, but I question why we always assume that the best models of leadership (or the ones most relevant to leadership in the church) come from the areas of commerce. The fields of education, medicine, the armed forces, social work, or other churches may be equally or more helpful. I am of course speaking of those parts of such disciplines that have not themselves sold out to managerialism.

Doing advanced academic work in the management field has indeed made me a better priest, but not because it has taught me a series of business-related skills. It is because that training forced me to reconceptualise the claims of the gospel in the language of af a quite different, and often unsympathetic discipline. It felt like some of the most significant mission work of my life.

One article I read really helped me in this area. It was "Taking the Cat for a Walk: Can a Bishop order a Diocese?", by Ian Cundy and Justin Welby in Managing the Church?: Order and Organization in a Secular Age, by GR Evans and M Percy (there he is again) Bloomsbury Publishing 2000. Ian Cundy became Bishop of Peterborough,and perhaps other readers can remember what happened to Justin Welby. The writers lamented the tendency of church leaders to adopt uncritically insights from business, 15 years after management thinking has abandoned those insights. I hope the Archbishop is encouraged to re-read what he wrote then.

Posted by Dr Edward Prebble at Monday, 15 December 2014 at 9:03pm GMT

One of the under-reported findings from Linda Woodhead's polls for the recent 'Faith Debates' was that 49% of clergy responded 'bad' or 'quite bad' to the following question:

'Based on your experience, do you feel that the Church of England is generally good or bad at identifying and supporting clergy’s talents, gifts and initiatives?'

Half the paid workforce of the CofE thinks that our ability to spot and nurture their talents is substandard, and only 28% thought it was 'good' or 'very good'. So the current system is failing badly: if this report is not part of the solution, then please let's hear the alternatives. We cannot carry on as we are.

Posted by David Keen at Tuesday, 16 December 2014 at 9:52am GMT

@David Keen says "the current system is failing badly: if this report is not part of the solution, then please let's hear the alternatives." I may have misunderstood them, but my reading of Martyn Percy and Michael Sadgrove (for starters) shows that they have offered concrete proposals for the composition and methodology, as well as a theological rationale, for such a reformed 'Green' steering group. But I suspect this is not the answer that those grasping more power want to hear. I might also add that the chickens of too much low-cost, part-time so-called 'theological' training for ordinands have well and truly come home to roost in the lack of suitable leadership material. £2m spent on widening access to residential training in universities with world-class theology faculties would make a real difference very quickly.

Posted by James A at Tuesday, 16 December 2014 at 11:39am GMT

Some suggestions in response to David Keen's challenge.

1) Elect bishops as elsewhere in the communion.
2) Require candidates to apply for senior posts as would happen elsewhere in the public services to such as universities.
3) Ensure all members of CNCs/appointment panels anywhere else in the Church are properly trained in conducting interviews according to best professional practice.
4) Forget the commercial corporate model that has been adopted here and look at best practice in other organisations. The universities may be flawed but they do have some excellent practice that the Church could learn from. The record of British business isn't exactly stellar.
5) Don't set up a panel which lacks credibility and is chaired by a politician and ex-banker who presided over a bank which was found guilty of money-laundering.
6) Do include some people who know about professional development and someone from a theological college. Of course, +Pete, we need better training. It's just that what is proposed is not fit for purpose.
7) Ask ourselves whether, if candidates for bishops, there is something wrong with the nature of the post or the way that it is described and, therefore, doesn't attract the best candidates.
8) Abandon the list of suitable people as is current now and the self-perpetuating oligarchy that is being proposed and adopts more open system.
9) Don't impose something like this by episcopal fiat without discussion. You are treating the laity and clergy at the parish face with contempt. The College of Bishops doesn't have a lot of credibility outside its own ranks. Please don't bully us.
10) 'Consider in the bowels of your being' that you may be wrong and engage respectfully with some of the criticism offered here, especially Martyn Piercy.

Is this enough to be going on with. Of course we need change urgently but this isn't what is needed. Remember it is our church too.

Posted by Daniel Lamont at Tuesday, 16 December 2014 at 12:09pm GMT

Great responses, Daniel Lamont.

My own experience and the experiences of many others I know suggest that the C of E would be radically improved if we focussed our 'talent development' on lay leadership at parish level.

Good conflict resolution skills among senior clergy who are called in to sort out parish disputes would also free up energy and time which is taken up by such rows which often result in stand offs and stalemates.

And a really good look at the deployment of the church's human resources - which is all of us - and some training for parish clergy on managing volunteers and spotting the full range of callings that God is making on people would create a huge surge of new talent.

Posted by Pam Smith at Tuesday, 16 December 2014 at 4:41pm GMT

An edit. My apologies. I sent my last post from my tablet. My item 7 should read as follows:

7) Ask ourselves whether, if candidates for bishops are as poor as we are told they are, there is something wrong with the nature of the post or the way that it is described and, therefore, doesn't attract the best candidates. Given what is to be imposed on them, why would anyone want to be a bishop unless they have a craving for power. In that case they shouldn't be bishops.

Posted by Daniel Lamont at Tuesday, 16 December 2014 at 5:26pm GMT

Steve Tilley has a good response to this:

http://stevetilley.blogspot.ca/2014/12/my-alternative-career.html

Posted by Tim Chesterton at Thursday, 18 December 2014 at 7:16pm GMT

Look there are really good individuals - whom I call men and women of God within the church. Strangely these true Christian people never rise within the hierarchy. Conversely I have never as yet found true men of God in the hierarchy. The church is not a business and it needs a total rethink divesting itself of materiality and returning to Christ's inspiring simplicity.

Posted by Peter Griffiths at Friday, 13 February 2015 at 8:03pm GMT
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