Friday, 6 June 2008

Yet More About Clergy Competences

This week I sent my contribution to Episcopal Café and chose the subject on how clergy were considered to be one of the professions, why this now should be seen as a dead idea, and how paid clergy might be seen instead as managers. As my last contribution did not appear (I looked at it yesterday and it seems too particular and even muddled for an American audience - a danger of contributing from overseas) I tried to make this one clearer for broader consumption.

The issue of clergy and competences (let's put it in the plural: skills sets in other words) has continued in the Church Times today, and this rather revealing paragraph:

One unnamed bishop said this week that anxieties focused on whether clergy had the skills to manage increasingly large and complex teams. "Running a team of lay volunteers and being the only professional is very different from managing and motivating a team with, perhaps, other stipendiary clergy in it, a couple of OLMs, and experienced churchwardens."

This is my point (though less the one about "only professional": there are likely to be many professionals in a middle class parish team). Once you have these teams, especially centred on a Minster Church model, then you must have management systems of communication that work - and the paid clergyperson is the facilitator, co-ordinator and focus of planning. Bishops, then, are just a higher level of managing. The whole issue is about the lack of management, and perhaps training ought to be in theories and practices of management and organisation, including specifically management of a voluntary body.

It seems (from the same Church Times report) that there is an issue of older, committed women without the paperwork of degrees applying for ministry. Well then the issue is what role such (male and female) go on to serve: whether they are local ministers, or at least voluntary ministers, or are the paid ministers who put their working time into the role, and it is that length of time that the paid can give that makes them the managers (as well as more space for pastoral functions).

Also the Church Times report quotes this:

Although 83 per cent say that they are confident in the skills of those being ordained, they express concerns about the nature of training for contemporary ministry.

This is a different spin than the original report conflating a book and a report that appeared in the Sunday Telegraph (that set all this debate going).

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