Comments: Green report awarded Fallen Angel prize by Financial Times

A well-deserved award!

Posted by Flora Alexander at Monday, 5 January 2015 at 9:00am GMT

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

Posted by Fr William at Monday, 5 January 2015 at 9:42am GMT

"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.

Posted by Father David at Monday, 5 January 2015 at 10:25am GMT

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

Posted by Jean Mayland (Revd) at Monday, 5 January 2015 at 12:36pm GMT

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 (one could choose many others): "We shall be making use of the wisdom to be gained from professional partners; but we shall hold before us the ambitious request of Solomon for wisdom from God (I Kings 3.1-15) and the understanding of the purpose of that wisdom (Ephesians 1.15-23). God’s wisdom is our measure of how we learn to manage better. Such wisdom builds trust, good order and flexibility. The Faith and Order Commission’s document on leadership speaks of ‘faithful improvisation’ as a key characteristic of Christian leadership. This is exactly what this plan promotes." The CofE has much more to do in terms of its preferment system, as well as holding its bishops to account in the ways in which they exercise leadership. It doesn't do talent management at all well. It doesn't train its leaders for leadership. It has for too long hidden behind a kind of cosy pastoral paradigm which regards 'leadership' as having no place. Wooly concepts of collaboration are tolerated. Hello? Usefully the Faith and Order Commission's (FAOC) recent document Senior Church Leadership: a resource for reflection deals with this well. Critics of the Green Report would be wise to demonstrate that they have taken into account the FAOC document. The two need to be read together.

Posted by Anthony Archer at Monday, 5 January 2015 at 4:04pm GMT

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...

Posted by Rev Michael at Monday, 5 January 2015 at 4:19pm GMT

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 the abyss.

Posted by James A at Monday, 5 January 2015 at 4:51pm GMT

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.

Posted by Marshall Scott at Monday, 5 January 2015 at 7:25pm GMT

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 a proposal from a critic which really faces the questions, or has any better practical suggestions for improvement. That may come with reflection and time. The report and its implementation at least recognises the task as urgent - and (as an urban incumbent) I wonder about the sustainablility of current rural models. It is intolerable to deploy clergy more thinly until they break because we've no better plan. It is all very well getting high minded about vocation, but buildings and PCCs and Synods and finances need attention too - as well as some bigger questions about how to get the best out of the people we have, rather than running our best ragged.

Posted by Mark Bennet at Monday, 5 January 2015 at 7:45pm GMT

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.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 6 January 2015 at 5:59am GMT

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 that a report on the developing the senior skills to change an institution of all things should have missed such a basic insight.

Posted by David Runcorn at Tuesday, 6 January 2015 at 8:46am GMT

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), where harnessing the energy of lay people can be demoralising (especially where there is resistance to change) and the pressure to put bums on seats and money in the collection is reaching bullying proportions (both from the hierarchy and local parishioners). In my experience, parishes don't want to be led. They want someone who is 'one of them' and who will simply endorse their expectations (why do you think OLM ministry has proved so popular on the ground?). There is a thirst for cosy congregationalism in the C of E, where talk of 'membership' and 'discipleship' is almost unchallengeable. The last thing people in parishes want from their priests is theological literacy, engagement with their wider communities, or 'vision' (however you dress it up). No wonder the levels of clerical burnout are at an all-time high.

So, yes, the Green Report deserves its Golden Flannel because it's looking in the wrong place, asking the wrong questions, and coming up with the wrong solution.

Posted by Tom Marshall at Tuesday, 6 January 2015 at 10:56am GMT

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.

Posted by Father David at Tuesday, 6 January 2015 at 11:34am GMT

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 it reads more like a confidential memo of the group's meetings revealing in sometimes undiplomatic detail what they actually thought and said. So for instance assumptions like: the Church of England is headed for the rocks, bishops are failing, internal trainers and theological colleges can't deliver, are all hanging out quite freely without any supporting evidence together with statements about the models of leadership which the group really admires such as the spine chilling quote from Douglas A Ready on page 29. Was this really what they wanted people to read?

In other ways it resembles a draft that has forgotten that it is a draft - so on page 25 we read that 'currently, corporate labels such as 'talent management', 'leadership development programme', 'talent pool and 'alumni network' have been used. These should perhaps be replaced by terms meaningful to the Church.' This sounds as though a rewrite was intended but on page 5 we see that 'The Archbishops have signed off this report'. The report might have had a very different reception if it had been couched in other language but terms like 'talent pool' have now taken hold and will be difficult if not impossible to dislodge.

The group may well say that it did not intend the report to be as widely distributed as it has been. It seems to have hoped that it could implement the proposals without anyone taking much notice. So at the point where people became aware of this piece of work and wanted to find out more there was nothing for them to see apart from the report as it stood. It would be inaccurate to say the report was leaked. After the House of Bishops meeting in September it was not confidential, only uncirculated, and without a comms strategy it simply dribbled out anyhow.

My respect to the Bishop of Ely who as chair of DAG has taken responsibility for the report and has spoken in clarification of it. But he should not carry the whole can. This group was chaired by Lord Green and it is the role of the chair to take charge of the process. Unless I have missed it there has not been a comment from Lord Green so far.

I continue to hope that the central good intentions of the report can be rescued from the heffalump trap into which it has fallen. In response to Mark Bennett I have a number of practical suggestions for improvement which I would be very happy to share. Where and when should I do that?

Posted by Jane Charman at Tuesday, 6 January 2015 at 11:44am GMT

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'".

Posted by Anne M at Tuesday, 6 January 2015 at 6:06pm GMT

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 crassly culled business models on the church, devoid of any theological or ecclesiological rationale, is frightening in itself. More frightening is the prospect that he seems to consider himself above accountability. If members of the General Synod sit back and allow these proposals (and the designated budget) to proceed unchallenged, it will represent the final undoing of the Church of England's consensual ecclesiology. We might as well take things to their logical conclusion and claim Pope Francis and the Magisterium as a universal pontificate.

My practical suggestions for a 'radical' shake up of leadership training is to start with the Archbishop himself. May be he should be told to take a year off, immerse himself some advanced theological study, learn something about the ecclesiological character of the church which he leads, and wake up to the possibility that he cannot just snap his fingers, issue a few P45s, demand that the Commissioners write cheques at his bidding, and display what seems like such contempt for fellow members of the Body of Christ.

Posted by Michael Chancellor at Tuesday, 6 January 2015 at 10:04pm GMT

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 suggested to me that Justin Welby had (in assessment for the ABC job) been willing to face the facts of the world, and we now have a less defensive central approach to church statistics. We have to move out of denial - none of our traditions sanctifies denial, yet that has been a truth of our institutional life for far too long. The catholic tradition has rich theological resources in precisely this area, and I believe that the Green Report is an opportunity to deploy that tradition in renewal.

But then I believe that much of the prophetic tradition is subversive. Whoever has an ear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the church.

Posted by Mark Bennet at Tuesday, 6 January 2015 at 11:21pm GMT

"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?

Posted by Laurence Cunnington at Tuesday, 6 January 2015 at 11:27pm GMT

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 'ready now' for consideration either as a diocesan or suffragan bishop. The process underpinning how those names came to be there or what work had been done with them or what opportunity they had had to benefit from leadership training was opaque in the extreme (understatement). Some had been on the Windsor Leadership programme. But the fact is, despite its manifest failings, there has been a 'talent pool' in existence since Jim Callaghan paved the way for the creation of the Crown Appointments Commission in 1974! The concept is not new. The principle that professional development/CMD should be emphasised in every diocese is also not new, as also is MDR (since common tenure). The Green report was commissioned by the Archbishops and the Development and Appointments Group and as a starting point it is the existing diocesan bishops in particular who will need to operate a proper system for talent development and management, starting with their own accountability and submission to MDR and the proper use of MDR for all senior clergy. Most dioceses already use leadership training, but only have the resources for involving those in such roles as area dean, team rector, training incumbent. As any new system is rolled out more people will benefit from it. It may seem elitist but it needs to have a starting point. The evidence that I see in dioceses is that, despite the Church trying to move towards shared or collaborative ministry models of leadership, it has singularly failed. Why else are dioceses now talking about a fresh emphasis on discipleship and the place of the laity? Vocations to the priesthood, while vigorously tested in most cases, have not been leading to ordained ministers who have the potential to lead their congregations into growth, hence the new focus on candidates needing to demonstrate potential to be an 'inspiring leader in mission'. The ordinal has it clear for bishops, but where is the emphasis now in virtually every diocese? It is on that part of the charge to the bishop to 'lead their people in mission.' This is all a huge wake-up call to the Church of England and is a vital component in equipping 'numerical and spiritual growth.' Of course, if it the case that 'parishes don't want it', as Tom Marshall asserts, then those parishes will not be surprised when they cease to exist, as by definition there congregations will dwindle to extinction. That's not the Church of England that I am seeing. And by the way, unless I am mistaken, the House of Bishops has endorsed this work, so it will be taken forward in every diocese. It remains for the Archbishops to pioneer talent development and to explain it to all, but it is not something that the General Synod can reasonably argue against, although I am sure the usual suspects will try!

Posted by Anthony Archer at Tuesday, 6 January 2015 at 11:54pm GMT

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 its episcopal leaders. So he has some insight and understanding of the direction in which the Established Church should be going in this, the 21st century.

Posted by Father David at Wednesday, 7 January 2015 at 4:14am GMT

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 should be asking; then we will tell you the answers; the format is non-negotiable and you cannot change anything. We have developed a range of products to keep this process 'on message.' It's a one-size-fits-all which can work in any situation, with any culture, theological conviction or ecclesial expectation.'

There has already been much said on this blog about the paucity of theological literacy - both in relation to Justin Welby specifically and the House of Bishops in general. My practical suggestion (to add to the others) is that, before half-baked, questionable blueprints from the commercial sector are imposed on the Church, there should be much more investment in the theological literacy of those who are expected to be senior public representatives of the Church in the future. The implication that theological colleges are not delivering (and the inference that IME 1-7 needs revamping already, post Common Awards) is the clearest indicator yet that this is just the tip of the iceberg in re-creating the Church of England in the image and likeness of one specific mind-set.

That a radical shake-up of senior appointments is an urgent necessity is beyond question. But it is too important to be left to an ecclesiastical quango, involving conspicuous personalities who have been responsible for the process for too long already, and requires much more transparency and accountability if it is to be owned by the whole Church. Anyone with a sufficiently firm grasp of the consensual nature of our Church should get that from the outset. The Anglican instinct is as resistant to popes as it is to autocratic CEOs.

Posted by Simon R at Wednesday, 7 January 2015 at 11:25am GMT

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".

Posted by Father David at Wednesday, 7 January 2015 at 12:39pm GMT

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.

Posted by Laurence Cunnington at Wednesday, 7 January 2015 at 1:18pm GMT

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, repeated attempts to reform patronage). There is a complex organisational task to be taken forward in in organisation whose legal framework is complex. I am commissioned to proclaim afresh in this generation the faith once delivered ... I have no problem about that. But if my time is wasted because the organisation is less efficient than it could be, I can spend less time to spend on that task, or prayer, or worship or evangelism or pastoral care.

Posted by Mark Bennet at Wednesday, 7 January 2015 at 3:34pm GMT

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:

"... And that is what we're talking about if we're going to be a missionary church.

"Well, there's only one way of doing that and that is through a renewed life of prayer. I believe it's the only way. And I'd just like to finish by sharing with you a story and a picture. As you'll have realised from what I'm saying, I don't have any techniques or models or theories about evangelism other than simply trying to grapple with the gospels and trying to do what Jesus does. And again and again when I read the gospels I see Jesus meeting people where they are, walking with them, listening to them, loving them, challenging them but not threatening them, respecting, respecting their humanity and simply wanting to offer them life, now. And so I try to do the same. And I believe I can only do that through my relationship with Jesus being deepened. And a lady I spoke with at a church in Halifax said that she was praying and she was praying that God might grant her church growth. That she had known nothing but decline, that she'd been a Christian for 40, 50 years and in that time the numbers coming had dwindled away. And she prayed that God might give her church growth. And as she prayed she felt that God gave her this picture, it came into her mind. And. all you can see, it's a picture of two trees. And one tree is withered away and is dying. And the other tree is large and bearing much fruit. And as she looked at the pictures, in her mind she felt that the two pictures were like her church as it was, and as she and as God would like it to be. One withered away and dying; one resplendent and fruitful.

"And just like that, of course, the picture is just a bit depressing, really, because I guess that's how many of us are feeling, that we've worked hard, that we've laboured sacrificially and yet there has only been decline. And then she saw, beneath the picture, the roots of the trees. And she noticed that the tree which was withered and dying had very tiny roots. And the tree that was fruitful had roots reaching down as deep into the earth as the branches reached up to the heavens. And she interpreted the roots of those trees as prayer. And that if they were going to be a missionary church, then they needed perhaps to tear up all the manuals about evangelism and needed to renew their life of prayer and ask God for that crazy, scandalous gift of love, that they might actually start cherishing one another and loving one another. And through that gift of love, then they could be the kind of church that God wants them to be.

"Now that church is now growing..."

Posted by David Lamming at Wednesday, 7 January 2015 at 11:13pm GMT

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 a parachute.

There are profound problems with the way in which the Archbishops of the Church of England have, in recent years, yearned for the sort of top down power structure they believe the Papacy possesses; the Green Report is only another manifestation of that.

An earlier one is the total shambles in the House of Lords on the Same Sex Marriage Bill, now an Act, where Welby made a speech apparently accepting the total impropriety of supporting a wrecking amendment, and then promptly ignored that in order to vote for the wrecking.

This reflects on his probity; How can I, or any one else, trust anything he says? I could go on...

Posted by Stevie Gamble at Wednesday, 7 January 2015 at 11:31pm GMT

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 report is advocating published critera for the 'talent pool', rather than the behind-the-scenes cronyism that has been known to operate in the CofE.

Posted by David Keen at Thursday, 8 January 2015 at 8:26am GMT

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.

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 8 January 2015 at 8:36am GMT

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.

Posted by James A at Thursday, 8 January 2015 at 8:50am GMT

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.

Posted by Father David at Thursday, 8 January 2015 at 11:31am GMT

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 of worship.

Posted by Mark Bennet at Thursday, 8 January 2015 at 1:56pm GMT

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 consumerism.

Posted by Charles Read at Thursday, 8 January 2015 at 2:47pm GMT

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 result has, more often than not, been mediocrity, partisanship, and outright incompetence. In a personal sense, I find it revolting that an institution professing to be the Body of Christ and His representative on earth should embrace a sort of "more-is-better" model, a prosperity gospel, that He condemned and rejected. I recognize my personal revulsion, but I recognize, too, that it has sound basis, both in logic and experience. Do we really wish to reinforce the old saying that the Church is a whore?

Posted by Mark Brunson at Friday, 9 January 2015 at 5:19am GMT

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 scripture in these posts, let's try and be 'Thinking' about it and not resort to simplistic observations which just happen to support our point of view.

Posted by James A at Friday, 9 January 2015 at 9:07am GMT

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 greatest weaknesses of Anglicanism today.

Posted by Tim Chesterton at Friday, 9 January 2015 at 9:38am GMT

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 the passage as relevant to the matters at hand, and I would suggest that this is a good time to visit the passage afresh to see if we can enrich our understanding and improve the quality of conversation.

As well as this, it integrates themes as belonging together rather than separable (see Tim Chesterton's comment), and it makes it very clear that it is not for one person to exercise all the gifts, but for the body together.

There is much more I could say, but that would be a major essay rather than a comment. Just to note that Revelation describes heavenly worship and eschatalogical worship, which require some unpacking to relate to the proper activity of the people of God here and now, and to what worship is for us in the present. And in the Pentateuch one of the big questions from Exodus onwards is whether the people of God will have the courage to complete their journey and enter the promised land - whether they will follow God, or not. And that relates to whether the worship they offer is authentic or not. We also have Moses being advised by Jethro to appoint leaders for the people (not leaders of worship or priests) to deal with the issues that arise in the community of the people of God. Their issues were not solved or brought to an end by making worship their primary activity.

Posted by Mark Bennet at Friday, 9 January 2015 at 11:29am GMT

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 liturgy. To be fair, I wonder if it is actually just an expression of what it is like to experience the poor quality of what passes for 'worship' Sunday by Sunday, which is hardly inspiring anyone for mission and leadership? But that's another matter for another post, I suspect.

Posted by SImon R at Friday, 9 January 2015 at 11:56am GMT

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.

Posted by Tim Chesterton at Saturday, 10 January 2015 at 4:06am GMT

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.

Posted by Mark Bennet at Saturday, 10 January 2015 at 9:53am GMT

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", which appeared in Modern Believing, Vol 55:3 July 2014.

Posted by Martyn Percy at Saturday, 10 January 2015 at 10:30am GMT

Back to the original header. Lucy Kellaway's podcast version of the article can be found here:

Posted by Howie Adan at Saturday, 10 January 2015 at 2:58pm GMT

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 as a consultant and not someone whose expertise is more relevant to an organization like our church?

It is clear that new structures and new ways of doing things are essential. But I don't think that what the report argues for is necessarily the solution to the problem. In the first place I do not see why the creation of 'talent pool' is an improvement on the current preferment list. It is still dependent on being noticed and identified by senior clergy and so remains a kind of old boys club under a different name. Most public organizations require people to apply for posts which gives an opportunity to all. Why can someone not apply to join the talent pool? What are the criteria for selection and how can one know that they are being applied fairly? It does not conclusively show why a business model and a mini-MBA is the way to solve the current needs of the church. The leadership characteristics identified are much those of any business executive, suitably tweaked. It is depressing that providing theological leadership is not seen as key role for Bishops and Deans.

I was the dean of a very large university faculty with a budget of eleven million pounds. We managed to run it in an effective and business-like way while educating some 5000 student equivalents but we did not run the university as a business. However, if one looks at the way universities have been forced to become businesses under the current government one can see an awful warning of what this would mean for the church. The attitude is nicely encapsulated when last year, students at Cambridge campaigning for a living wage for staff were told by a senior official that their college was ‘a business first, a home second’. Do we want this for the church?

The report uses the common managerialist phrase 'being a learning organization', whatever that might mean. If that were genuinely true, the church would take on board some of the trenchant criticisms offered both here and elsewhere and especially the cogent points made by Martyn Piercy and Michael Sadgove. The fact those who are master-minding this process have made no attempt to engage with the criticisms bodes ill for the future. I note that even +Broadbent has stopped defending the proposals. They are clearly going to be imposed on us and we will have tolive with the consequences.

I repeat my point: Clearly we need radical change but the case is not made for adopting the business model offered here and for handing over the preparation of future church leaders to business schools.

Posted by Daniel Lamont at Saturday, 10 January 2015 at 11:51pm GMT

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 of the problem and beholden to a failed system was not a sound strategy. I have been unimpressed by the PR of the CofE in recent years ....

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Sunday, 11 January 2015 at 2:05pm GMT

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', and that her request for wider consultation was turned down.

Posted by Flora Alexander at Sunday, 11 January 2015 at 3:00pm GMT

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 Green Report was very far from, for instance, the Rochester Report, Women in the Episcopate, which the whole Church needed to engage with, no more so the General Synod. I repeat what I have already said. Green is not doing all things new. There has been a ‘talent pool’ for decades. We have sent clergy with leadership promise to the Windsor Leadership Programme for years. The problem has been that it has been ad hoc and without a coherent agreed model of what ‘leadership’ needs to look like in the CofE or what training our future leaders need. Clergy are now subject to MDR, but it is not done well. Bishops are not subject to it. Without effective MDR, the preferment system may not be fair (old boys’ club risks) and there is no assurance that talent is being properly identified. ‘Leadership’ and ‘Church’ are not mutually exclusive terms. ‘Leadership’ is not the sole preserve of ‘business’. What about Government and other non-profits? INSEAD teaches and facilitates leadership training for different client types. The bishops are going to be the first to experience the scheme because they are the people who will need to operate it. My diocese (St Albans) is looking at what it wants from a leadership training scheme for its clergy more generally. Many others are. None of this is new. A key question that is being addressed is the theology of leadership. For this read the FAOC report Senior Church Appointments: a resource for reflection. How is Christian leadership different? It is naive to think that this question is not (and has not) been posed. The Church is no different from any other type of organisation in needing a strategy and agreed goals. The need for numerical and spiritual growth has been endorsed by every diocese. Intentional evangelism is widely talked about. There is no one way to do it, but do it the Church must. INSEAD will not invite its new ecclesiastical client to leave its life of prayer and reflection at the doorstep. In fact rather the reverse is the case. This is not an attempt by the Archbishops to become power crazed and act like the Papacy. Individual diocesan bishops have considerable autonomy. They are individually appointed by the Crown. General Synod meets next month and has scheduled plenty of time for work on the task groups to be discussed. Members can ask questions. Much of the negative comment on Green to date has been of the ‘arguing from authority’ type. ‘Trust me, I’ve been in the City and I know.’ The fact is the CofE is stuffed with people from all walks of life and they bring valuable life experiences to their ministry. Try telling the Bishop of Birmingham that he must discount his experience of leadership and management at BP! Or come to think of it Stephen (Lord) Green, ordained priest 1988.

Posted by Anthony Archer at Sunday, 11 January 2015 at 9:08pm GMT

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, as well as in charities and the like, who could have been called upon, but weren't.

This isn't rocket science; the Civil Service has had fast track career structures since the introduction of establishment by open competition in the 19th century. Rather more recently than the 19th century, I was recruited under the 'In Command at Thirty' programme; the Civil Service Commission has considerable experience in identifying people who are comfortable with, and good at, leadership. They do so in an open and transparent manner; it is a matter of public record whether someone is, or is not, in a fast track stream.

It would have been a great deal cheaper for the Church had it bothered to consult the Commission; the Church might also have learned that openness and transparency are the bedrock of public trust. It does seem to me that it has still failed to recognise that nowadays respect has to be earned, and that deference is no longer a panacea which enables it to dismiss requests for wider consultation as 'turbulence'.

Posted by Stevie Gamble at Sunday, 11 January 2015 at 10:45pm GMT



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!

Posted by Tim Chesterton at Monday, 12 January 2015 at 12:18am GMT

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...

Posted by Stevie Gamble at Tuesday, 13 January 2015 at 12:49am GMT

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 one instance where I actually see the attraction of the business model.

The whole thing is still very confusing.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 16 January 2015 at 12:10pm GMT
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