I've held off from talking about my thinking on the Green Report: mainly because I haven’t read it. However, I’m dipping my toe in the water of comment because of today.
Today, I spent the morning presiding at a communion for a Church Of England Academy where I have been invited onto the trust board. From there I went 200 yards up the hill to one of my parish buildings where I talked with the congregation about reimagining church there. The archdeacon and I talked about how we might rework the building: what sustainability means, how we might need to get a change of use from the council. We are trying to find a way to meaningfully minister to part of the parish without losing a building to what would inevitably become flats.
Then into the diocesan office for training where I caught the diocesan secretary and the registrar about the same issue. We talked about terms of lease, whether its faculty or chancellor jurisdiction. The training itself was on running a PCC and APCM: which is the Church of England dispensation for our churches being legal entities protected in the same way as businesses and charities.
As I drove back, via Staples, I was reflecting on how I might grow a families project and what it might look like to employ more people in one of my other churches. I made a couple of calls and wondered why my brain felt so full.
On the doormat as I came in was my Masters degree certificate. (in Ministry and Theology).
I’ve done five years of academic training in the Church of England one way or another. That training IN NO WAY prepared me for any of the tasks that I have done today. Possibly not even the communion. What it did do is help me to understand why I am doing the task and with what motivation and heart I should do it.
The Church of England needs to train us to think in ways that mean we can lead the church legally, creatively, entrepreneurially, and holistically (not necessarily in that order). I’m just a bod in a parish, so we can safely say that we might need to magnify the level of such training for people with a wider scope. Just giving us theology probably isn’t going to cut it.
However, I’m not sure that the idea of taking our ideas from business (even charitable business) are the way forward. First, let me own that the idea of a talent pool freaks me out. Scary if you are not in it, scary if you are! I’m also aware that these things tend to nepotism, the place you were in when you went to college (so there is no room for change or growth in us), the nature of the churches that you lead (big church means talented). But that could all just be my insecurity.
Secondly, and I don’t mean this unkindly, business models tend to treat poor people like rubbish. The nature of the market economy is competitive. In competition someone loses. It tends to be the poor; who at best get the scrag end of corporate responsibility. And Jesus has some things to say about that. Most business models applied to the church would withdraw us from the only places we should probably be working. We can’t adopt business models uncritically (which may be where our theology has to be robust).
Third, the church is always called to subvert. So what if people with MBA’s lead businesses well? Are they upside Kingdom thinkers? They might be.. but so might the guy or girl who is just plodding away.
Which leads me to my gentle conclusion. Leaders in the Church of England need a whole range of skills that help us to lead change, be helpful contributors to the local community, ask hard questions (including how much do you give) and think creatively about all our futures. I’m not sure what we have had has encouraged that. But neither am I sure that we need a talent pool which shuts out the spark of genius in the wrong place, or ignores the late bloomer in life. And I’m certainly not sure that the market which has produced corruption, greed, unparalleled inequalities and workaholism would be our teacher.