Thursday, 13 November 2008

More Diagrams - Effective Ministers

I picked up the latest edition of Crosslincs today, the Lincoln diocese newspaper. This is the paper copy. There used to be a .PDF version online, I think, but now it is via Mortons Digital using Adobe Flash and I don't like it. Preference, that's all, and having to go from magnifier to page-turning and back to magnifier via awkward controls.

Anyway, part of the article on Continuing Ministerial Education by Mark Hocknull caught my eye (Autumn 2008, number 18, page 18) and his diagram, here lifted off the poor graphic quality and improved from the online version:

It's one of those diagrams that so many people like to do, and I have sort of stared at it on periods over the day. So theology then is like the educated theory, the skills are all those abilities to do the job, and then spirituality is a something extra (but obviously not extra in this ministerial role) that makes the person and draws out the theology to the world and also makes the person boosted in doing the activities via the skills. However, the reason I kept looking at it was because something wasn't quite right. It looks right, but the problem is the placing of confidence and then there is competence. Couldn't, say, confidence be in the middle or even the whole? Isn't competence about spiritual skills too?

So, how to do it? Here is a quip of a question rewritten from Ernst Troeltsch.

Is the universally true true because it is universal? Discuss.

What would be the universal version, that might be applied anywhere? So once again I displaced what I should be doing with something else, in this case messing around with the implications of this Crosslincs article, and came up with another diagram.

I think we should talk about skill sets, in terms of what we need to have - the training side to develop what we possess. We also have theory, what is learnt - the education side. Theory might be called knowledge, except arguably knowledge is tested and applied. Then there is application - there is the theory applied, but it is also what makes the skill effectively realised.

Theory relating to skill sets is how skills change to meet the different theoretical bases of action. For example, in education, student centred learning requires a different skill in teaching than the didactic approach. If education theory changes, people need to renew their abilities, and how to apply such changes too. There are managers in business who have skills along the lines of one kind of management but not other: their scope. The potential, the scope, of your skills is how much theory can be transferred into your ability to do something with it.

I think competence, then, is to do with the application of skills, so this attribute has moved around. A competent teacher may not know why, but has the skills and can do the job in terms of applying the right skills at the right time. There are action people who do the right thing, but can't handle the information.

Now you may know a lot and know where and how to apply the theory - and this means expertise. It just does not mean you can do it. That's a different matter. It's like the education planner or school inspector that does not teach, and may not be able to teach. There are managers who give presentations on effective management, but are lousy when they do it.

If you have the theory, the skill sets and the application, then you do become that effective person. There is no section for confidence: I think confidence is the whole, or say holistic, and it derives from degrees of expertise.

Now transfer that back to clergy and other ministers again. Is the lack of 'Spirituality' a loss? Not really: in that pastoral theology is theory too, and this gets applied, and there are theories of worship and these get applied and so on. There are academic priests who sometimes can't do the mundane. There are jobbing clergy who stop reading and just get on with it. The effective clergyperson is the one with the theory, applies the theory and knows what is relevant, has the skills and knows how to use them.

I humbly suggest I have the better model! Meanwhile there is a notice on the Lincoln diocese website that suggests perhaps that God is absent or is fed up with prayer spam (this being why God does not answer prayers - do you answer all your emails?). Either that or there is nothing to pray about. Or perhaps the bishops are busy.

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