If Entrepreneurs Ran the Church: New visions for an old Church by Peter Kerridge

by
02 February 2018

A readable book full of sensible thinking by interesting people, says Eve Poole

LAST year, Peter Kerridge of Premier Christian Radio hit on a wizard plan: a series of Monday-night radio programmes during which nine seasoned entrepreneurs from different Christian traditions would be asked how they would set about running the Church. The Church could get free consultancy from some extraordinary leaders, and Premier Radio’s listeners would learn more about nine role-model Christian leaders in business.

SPCK has now brought out the transcripts as this book, and Peter Kerridge has added an overview chapter, and a list of study-group questions.

Everyone can point to things that the Church should change to be­­come more effective, the book says. But it exhorts us to listen with par­ticular care to these nine entre­preneurs, because they are used to making “real-life decisions about how to improve large organisa­tions”.

Kerridge’s interviewees include a co-founder of Mumsnet, Carrie Long­­ton; the chairman of Korn Ferry, Oliver Pawle; and the founder of Christian Vision, Lord Edmiston.
The format makes this an extremely readable book, full of sensible think­ing from across the denomina­tions about what might improve the Churches’ for­­tunes. The study-group questions are a part­icularly useful starting-point.

Generally, the entrepreneurs are relaxed about the mixed economy of church provision in the UK. The patchwork of denominations and styles means that there is something for everyone, and the Churches should work harder to see past their divisions to the huge opportunity for collaboration. Leadership within the Churches should be shared, and the clergy at the heart of the leader­ship team should be better trained in modern communication chan­nels, since communication is at the heart of their task.

The interviewees remind us all of the importance of prayer, and of listening to both God and the com­mun­ities that we serve; and the entre­preneurs share a clear sense that the wider mission of the Churches is to those beyond the pews. They believe that those within the church family could give more to finance this effort, which would also make better use of under-utilised buildings during the week. In their view, this outreach would lead naturally to evangelism; so it would be the best way to drive church growth. If the Churches are more actively loving rather than caught up in arguments about doctrine, they will appear more relevant and attractive to the unchurched.

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Of course, much of what is sug­gested in this book is already hap­pen­ing within the Churches, just
not consistently so. The labyrinthine decision-making processes of most central Churches’ structures would make the national roll-out of any
of the initiatives outlined here ex­­tremely challenging. But that is per­haps good news, because most local churches, therefore, have the free­dom to make their own way, and the advice that this book contains is food for thought for anyone in­­volved in local church leadership.

I also liked the challenge to cur­rent thinking on growth: it has been as­­sumed that raising up more clergy is the best way to drive growth, whereas these entrepre­neurs argue that growth is more likely to arise from lay-led com­munity engage­ment that demon­strates God’s love to those outside existing church structures.

 

Dr Eve Poole is an associate research fellow of the William Temple Foundation, and an as­­sociate of the St Paul’s Institute. Her book Leader­smithing: Reveal­ing the trade secrets of leadership is published by Bloomsbury.

 

If Entrepreneurs Ran the Church: New visions for an old Church
Peter Kerridge
SPCK £9.99 (978-0-281-07800-4)
Church Times Bookshop £9

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