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Business and management principles in the C of E

by
09 January 2015

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From the Revd Dr Sam Cappleman

Sir, - The articles and letters about the Green report, and the article by the Revd Dr Edward Dowler on the use of statistical data (Comment, 19/26 December), indicate that the Church's relationship with business and management principles remains strained and incomplete.

One of the reasons for this is surely that business, by definition, is a "for profit" organisation, while the Church is an organisation that is better categorised as "for benefit". This difference is critical, as the factors that motivate people within these organisations can be very different, as are the appropriate metrics and indicators to show whether progress is being made against a given strategy or set of objectives.

Mixing up these organisational models can lead to confusion and an over-dependence on the wrong type of measures and processes. It is far too easy, for example, to fall back on the metrics that are easily measurable (usually quantifiable and numeric) rather than those that may be more meaningful pointers of progress, but can be more qualitative and difficult to measure.

Projects such as British Religion in Numbers and the Green report offer important lenses through which we can view the Church and its organisational structures and development. But there are other equally important lenses for the Church to use, too, such as theology, scripture, doctrine, and our rich and broad ecclesiological models and traditions, which, as the Revd Justin Lewis-Anthony mentioned (Comment, same issue), may have something to contribute in their own right to business.

Across the Lee Abbey Movement, we are working to understand the most appropriate events and indicators to help us reflect on our ministry and mission, and to put them in place in an appropriate format, most likely that of a Guidance Scorecard. This structure has both lagging indicators (what has happened and what actions may need to be taken, moving forward) and leading indicators (those metrics that give us insight into the current and likely future state of the ministry, and the actions that they, too, might precipitate). This is not easy, and should not be rushed; but neither should it be deferred.

If, as Churches and Christian organisations, we are serious about our ministry, we should see it as an important component of that mission and ministry to understand whether those things we believe we are being called and enabled by God to do are leading to the desired outcomes.

If not, what needs to be modified in order that they do, and so enable God's Kingdom to grow - as a result of appropriately measured and reviewed actions and plans inspired by a genuine desire for more people to experience increasingly Christ's transforming love?

SAM CAPPLEMAN
Executive Chair, Lee Abbey Movement
107 Dover Crescent, Bedford MK41 8QR

 

From the Revd Steve Axtell

Sir, - Catching up on the Green-report controversy, I see in Dean Percy's article (Comment, 12 December) a reference to the Wash House at Lambeth as a "secretariat that once served the Church". One occupant of the Wash House is the Clergy Appointments Adviser, whom I have dealt with twice when looking for a change of job.

Let me tell you: when you have been beaten up and bruised and labelled yourself a failure as a result of the competitive interview process current in the Church, this office may be where your faith is restored; for you will be taken as the person, priest, and pastor that you are rather than being measured against another; and valued for yourself rather than for what you might achieve in the next four years as compared with the next interviewee.

I hope and pray that this particular secretariat continues to serve the Church for years to come, and, if it maintains its current ethos and values, I wouldn't mind its becoming sovereign, either.

Steve Axtell
St Mary's Vicarage, Salisbury Street, Workington, Cumbria CA14 3TA

 

From Dr Rolfe King

Sir, - Is the problem not so much with the training of bishops as the existing diocesan structure of management, and the undervaluing of the gift of administration?

The apostles were to devote themselves to preaching the gospel and teaching, not management and administration. They appointed helpers at an appropriate level to the problems facing them, with an appropriate level of authority and powers. The helpers were there to release the apostles from such matters. Is there now an equivalent for bishops today in each diocese?

It seems that the theological solution would be to find the right structure first, and then the people, the managers who could appropriately serve the Bishop and the whole diocese, and then work out training needs from that.

ROLFE KING
11 Petworth Court, Rustington BN16 2LF

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