Comments: New Directors for Renewal & Reform and Evangelism & Discipleship announced

'Dave Male' sounds like the sort of character that would appear in Viz comic if they ever featured a hearty evangelical cleric. (I hasten to add, going solely on his name. I have no idea whether or not the real person has any resemblance to the imaginary caricature.)

Posted by David Emmott at Tuesday, 28 November 2017 at 6:26pm GMT

Same old, same old... a predictably lightweight evangelical and business combo. Justin Welby's ambition to recreate the C of E in his own image and likeness gathers pace. How depressing.

Posted by Will Richards at Tuesday, 28 November 2017 at 7:45pm GMT

If successful, Dave will further transform the National Church into an evangelical sect likely to appeal to even fewer people. Why try to convert the nation to Our Lord in the Most Holy Sacrament when Dave can promote fresh expressions, messy church and other such profound beliefs to be ignored by the populace?

Posted by FrDavidH at Tuesday, 28 November 2017 at 10:53pm GMT

Any chance of people in such roles who have first hand experience of the challenges faced by multiparish clergy in unfashionable areas with congregations who are not well-off? Apparently not. My wife said she’s stopping reading CoE bulletins because all she wants to do is correct the grammar and strike out all the business-speak, which would of course leave only a few prepositions and conjunctions. And another friend writes ‘I have the same sinking feeling that I used to get when stumbling across such “overarching/blue sky” rubbish when I was at work. I wonder what the Dear Leader’s remedy will be for a benefice with 5 small churches attracting an average congregation of 5-6, in their latter years and pulling in less than £25 a week in giving. Perhaps upping our parish share to pay for these corporate types might do the trick.’ I get perverse pleasure from reading CoE bulletins and TA, but it’s getting to the stage when the hypertensive effects outweigh the endorphins released. Pyongyang obviously doesn’t want clergy like me. Who will grab the bull by the balls and close churches?

Posted by Stanley Monkhouse at Wednesday, 29 November 2017 at 8:41am GMT

I presume that when William Nye speaks of 'England's largest diocese' he means in terms of population? York Diocese is far bigger geographically, I imagine Newcastle might be too. Debbie Clinton will find that what works in London doesn't work elsewhere - its such an atypical diocese.

I wonder why the profile of David Male doesn't say where he's actually been? The description of his work history is general and vague.

Posted by Cassandra at Wednesday, 29 November 2017 at 9:11am GMT

I am a DDO and have sent candidates to the pioneer ministry selection program Dave Male has established. One is an experienced church planter who has a profoundly eucharistic focus to her spirituality and is now an ordinand placed in an urban anglo-catholic parish. I have found the process wholly supportive of mission expressed across all traditions in the church. He did not choose his parents or his name. But I welcome his choice for the appointment and will pray for him.

Posted by David Runcorn at Wednesday, 29 November 2017 at 11:07am GMT

I can say with all honesty that these two appointments will make not one jot of difference to the challenges and opportunities we face up here in Bolton. Ms Clinton with her home counties baggage, and Mr Male with fresh expressions coming from all directions, just do not get what parish life is like North of the Trent (and, I suspect, a good deal South of it, too). This is just more corporate spin by the C of E - and a woeful waste of money. How about financing three or four parish priests up here in struggling communities for what these two are racking-up in pay and expenses? It's bad enough that the country is divided without the Church reinforcing its London-centred ignorance time after time.

Posted by Bill Broadhead at Wednesday, 29 November 2017 at 5:28pm GMT

Mr Broadhead - I have the honour of being Vicar of, inter alia, a parish that abuts the Trent's "northern" bank (in Burton the western bank rather than the northern, but on the proper side anyway). You are absolutely right. What interest will these people have in us? If my experience is anything to go by, their representatives will speak at a diocesan training day, but will not listen or observe. Experience leads me to doubt that anyone will condescend to see what it's like on the ground, and certainly not an area amongst the most deprived in the UK. With a bit of luck this will be an item on (poorly attended) deanery synod and then forgotten. But what a waste of money, as you so rightly infer. Is there nobody high up in the Lambeth politburo that values loyal dissent? Maybe that is viewed, as always by dictators, as negativity.

Posted by Stanley Monkhouse at Wednesday, 29 November 2017 at 7:36pm GMT

First of all, good luck (they'll both need it) to Debbie and Dave in their new posts.

But - who wrote this stuff?

'extensive experience of change management'
'oversee and ensure the implementation of the national workstreams'
deep-rooted missional challenges'
'for all people in all places'
strategic senior posts'
'change management, marketing and customer development'
'Director of discipleship'
'strengthening their Christian life'
'extensive experience of creating innovation and leader, theological educator and national advisor'
'newly formed Directorate'
'objectives of the Archbishop's Council'
'thrilled to be exciting and dynamic team'
'through this new Directorate'
'delighted with the new appointments'
'make reality of it's Capital Vision for growth in London'

And so on...

I have no idea what any of the above actually means?

Posted by stephen morgan at Wednesday, 29 November 2017 at 7:44pm GMT

Programme on Radio 4 recently about how metaphors are used in business and politics, and that if we are presented with something that we don't understand or appears meaningless, it is our duty to question it?

Well, just for starters:

What is a 'national workstream?'

What is a deep-rooted missional challenge?'

What is a 'strategic senior post in the C of E?'

How can one be a 'Director of discipleship?'

A 'national adviser' in what?'

'What is a 'newly formed Directorate' and why does it make me feel uneasy?

What are the 'objectives of the Archbishop's Council?'

How is the new team 'exciting and dynamic' if they haven't even met yet?

Why is William Nye 'delighted?'

What is a 'Capital Vision for growth?'

Posted by stephen morgan at Wednesday, 29 November 2017 at 7:57pm GMT

I can't make head or tail of the Fresh Expressions website. For instance, Dave describes Pioneers as "engaging in the highest levels of role crafting (with) some of the highest levels of autonomy and feedback" Such phrases make me go blank with incomprehension. Many of the videos contain comparable gobbledegook. If Dave's role is to communicate the gospel to the unchurched, perhaps he could speak in language understandable to those of us within it

Posted by FrDavidH at Wednesday, 29 November 2017 at 8:28pm GMT

Bill Broadhead, Cassandra - with regard to Dave Male's previous work, I got to know him whilst an ordinand at Ridley Hall Cambridge, where I believe he was on staff at both Ridley and Westcott . Prior to that I know he spent considerable time in a church in Huddersfield. Tis the other side of the Pennines from Bolton I know, but its definitely north of the Trent!

Posted by Phil Goodacre at Wednesday, 29 November 2017 at 10:08pm GMT

I think Stephen is right to flag up this kind of language. I drafted a rather mischievous post yesterday, which started with Jesus saying "Who do people say I am?" and his disciple replying, "They say you are an ensurer of the implementation of national workstreams..."

It went downhill from there, and probably wisely I decided not to post it.

Mainly because the actual work is probably good, the people decent, and my post didn't feel encouraging.

I think there is a lesson for the new Media/Communications Head though. It is maybe better not to use the kind of phrases and jargon that may be pre-requisite on MBA courses at the Henley Business School and places like that, but seem less applicable addressing people engaged in the personal and pastoral. The language used in this press release felt more suited to a corporate/media/managerial environment.

As Justin, fairly or unfairly, is sometimes charged with introducing a managerial imprint on the Church of England, which is not industry, but pastoral and spiritual and personal... maybe too much spin, lustre, and PR-style language creates an opaque effect; and the probably good work these two appointees are setting out to do might benefit more from plain and direct information, and less formality, business-speak, jargon and veneer.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Thursday, 30 November 2017 at 8:45am GMT

"Is there nobody high up in the Lambeth politburo that values loyal dissent?" asks Stanley Monkhouse. The clue is in the fact that I am hearing increasing numbers of clergy referring to Lambeth Palace as Pyongyang.

Having turned the House of Bishops into his personal Politbureau, we now have two people who can 'talk the talk', who are going to tell us how to become Welby's puppets, so that local parishes can become clones of his middle class evangelical ideals. The fact that Dave Male went on day-release to Westcott House tells me nothing. This is a monstrous waste of resources. If the Archbishops channelled their energy into highlighting the suffering and poverty in depressed communities up here in the North, which is as a direct consequence of central government burying itself in a self-serving project called 'Brexit', we might take them more seriously. In the Bible I read, 'salvation' is much more than my personal 'high' with Jesus: it is social and political, too, involving love of God and neighbour.

So how can these two appointments credibly claim to be serving the nation as a whole? If it wasn't so serious, it would be a pathetic joke.

Posted by Ken Dalton at Thursday, 30 November 2017 at 9:35am GMT

Regarding Pyongyang at Lambeth, I find it difficult not to despair. This is not for my sake, for I shall soon be gone. It is for the sake of loyal parishioners—people for whom bishops and church officials are increasingly irrelevant; people who do their best to keep expensive and beautiful buildings going by having them open as sacred space, for refreshments, for the sale of charity cards, for concerts, and for use as a winter venue for Burton homeless between now and Easter—and this in an increasingly non-Christian area that ‘enjoys’ the manifestations of drug wars and the occasional murder. I invite Ms Clinton and Mr Male to spend a month with us, full time, before they begin to lecture us. Church apparatchiks increasingly behave as if they think that when they bark, volunteers will jump to attention. Not so in any world I’ve ever lived or worked in, they won't. Mr Dalton writes “If it wasn't so serious, it would be a pathetic joke”. It is so serious that I can do nothing other than treat is as comedy.

Posted by Stanley Monkhouse at Thursday, 30 November 2017 at 11:26am GMT

Stanley Monkhouse's reflections prompted me to re-read an article by Sarah Coakley from the excellent ABC Religion & Ethics website

Obviously, Professor Coakley doesn't address the situations Stanley describes directly; but she does delve into the root causes of the current malaise that is feeding the culture at 'Pyongyang.' Her analysis of the 'thin gruel' that now passes for theological discourse, as well her scrutiny of the fundamental questions institutions avoid addressing, have more than echoes of what underlies the two appointments under discussion in this thread.

It IS serious, because no-one surrounding the Beloved Leader has either the bottle, or the intellectual clout, to offer a counter-narrative to the (seemingly) unchallengeable conviction that he has the answer. Getting bad tempered and dismissive with those who ask awkward questions, and surrounding himself with those who are saying 'the right things', might cause some people to wonder whether this model of leadership is not as caricatured as some of us are suggesting. For someone who makes much of the monastic pattern of discipleship, especially for the young, there seems to be an all-too-convenient disregard for Benedict's insight: that those people and ideas we find most disagreeable often prove to be our most effective teachers.

Posted by Simon R at Thursday, 30 November 2017 at 12:54pm GMT

Dave Male was a lecturer at both Ridley and Westcott simultaneously. He was also a cleric in Huddersfield which is , I can reliably tell you, in the north.

It is important to keep the facts clear because although these two appointments might be of good people (I have worked with Dave in the Cambridge Theological federation and he is a good thing who thinks and works more broadly than some here are allowing), many of the points made here are still pertinent - London is not like anywhere else and the management speak is by turns unsettling and risible etc..

Posted by Charles Read at Thursday, 30 November 2017 at 4:37pm GMT

I know Dave Male well and he will be a fine addition to the team. He is wise, experienced, pragmatic and a heart to see the church grow. I wish him well. He is an ideal person for the role. The key for me is discipleship. For every Fresh Expression and messy church, we need Christians, young and old, mature and new to grow in an effective discipleship which will help people live out their Christian lives establishing an effective and distinctive life of justice, inclusivity, hope and joy.

I wish him well - I think he is the right person for the job. I knew him as a curate in Huddersfield and our paths have crossed over the years and I have always been impressed by Dave's own journey and experience and wisdom.

Posted by Tim Sledge at Thursday, 30 November 2017 at 4:45pm GMT

How about this ?
Seems pretty inspiring....

Posted by Laurie Roberts at Thursday, 30 November 2017 at 11:49pm GMT

And yesterday we saw the appointment of a "Cathedrals Liaison Officer" by the "National Church Institutions."

Posted by Jeremy at Friday, 1 December 2017 at 2:06pm GMT

The Cathedrals Liason Officer appointment is part of the Archbishops'/Commissioners' 'grab' strategy. Cathedrals are doing well, but they want cathedrals to 'do well' their way, because they realise they could be places of resistance, offering a less formulaic, more intelligent and more questioning way of doing mission.

As has been highlighted elsewhere on this blog, the Sacred Space conference, to which all cathedral staff have been 'invited' to "Bring together for the very first time, all the key players at every English cathedral.... to listen to the message and priorities of the Archbishops and their vision of the Church’s mission for the next decade."

Jimmy Dale, the National Youth Officer is there, along with Andy Burnham and Caroline Spellman. But where are the musicans, the liturgists, those people holding the educational and theological portfolios in our cathedrals - i.e. the ones who have actually been responsible for 'delivering' all this growth? And why do cathedral staff need to attend an expensive conference to "Learn again what Spiritual treasures we share with other Christians" and how to "Relate to our cities", as well as consider "Cathedrals as places of beauty"?

Welby has succeeded in whipping the House and College of Bishops into line. Now it's time to do the same with cathedrals. Dies irae, dies illa!

Posted by Peter Norris at Sunday, 3 December 2017 at 10:48am GMT
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