Those of us who have been following reshaping of the Connexional team of the British Methodist Church can't help but be aware of the extent to which the UK Methodist Church is into 'management' in a big way. Leaving aside the cute in-speak of greens and reds.. of clusters and cores, the bottom line is that the Church has now fully embraced the concepts of governance, management and leadership (in spite of the fact that the report from which this 1980's business jargon was plundered was NOT adopted by the Methodist Conference of 2005)
So what...? Who cares..? What's to get excited about?
Well - nothing really - as long as we expect the British Methodist Church to be just another institution with a mission statement in the same way that BP or IBM is. If that were the case I would join the ranks of the delighted professionals and celebrate the fact that there is now approaching something vaguely professional about our Church leadership..
The trouble is, in my heart of hearts, I DO expect something different from my Church something - well - at least vaguely spiritual, or religious or even – dare I say it METHODIST - as well as professional.
BUT If I can't have both - well then I'd settle for an holy but Godly mess over and above a sterile professional heart to the Church every time.
As an example of what I mean - taking the latest advert to come out of the Connexional team - we are now looking for a
I'm tempted at this stage to ask for answers on a postcard as to what we think this job is all about - but hold fire until you have read the main tasks of this fixed 12 month contract..
1. To support the development of ministerial policy and programmes by:
1.1. Assisting in evaluating existing practices and structures, and exploring alternative models;
1.2. clarifying and presenting options in defined areas, and indentifying the implications of particular proposals or decisions;
1.3. facilitating effective consultation practices and convening ministerial stakeholders forums and practitioners forums
1.4. assisting in shaping policy recommendations for Connexional decision making bodies
2. Interacting with partner organisations by consulting and sharing relevant research outputs to enable mutual learning and assistance
3. Assisting the Strategic Development Officer or the Head of Discipleship & Ministries in ensuring that work within the Team which relates to Ordained and Authorised Ministries is co-ordinated with the work of the Cluster
4. Any other reasonable duties as requested by the Strategic Development Officer or the Head of Discipleship & Ministries
The post does comes with some excellent learning opportunities.. to quote again from the advert:
Learning and training opportunities:
This post offers a good opportunity for anyone to develop a career in the charitable sector. You will receive insight into strategic issues facing one of Britain’s largest Churches, many of which have parallels in other organisations. In particular you will gain experience and knowledge of:
- Dealing with Senior Officers in this and partner organisations
- Some strategy development and policy formulation
- Problem solving
- Team working and using office systems
- Working flexibly and collaboratively within the Connexional Team
- Improved communication skills (oral and written)
- Working in a fast moving environment
- Time management skills and the capacity to meet deadlines
This is obviously a post which could have a profoundly significant spiritual impact on the future life of our Church if it really is intended to help shape and inform the future ministerial policy of the Church (lay and ordained I presume) Yet - it is not considered either essential or desirable for the post holder to:
Believe in God
Have any experience of the practice of Church ministry (either lay or ordained)
Have any knowledge of Methodist theology - in particular the Priesthood of all believers.
It IS essential however, for them to have good IT skills in particular in Outlook, Word and Excel - and best of all - to have 'At least three to five years experience of working in a policy writing and development role or within a professional church context'
In all fairness, whoever applies does need to be 'In sympathy with the aims of The Methodist Church'
Who are we trying to kid?
Given that of the newly configured team only 2/5 are Methodist 2/5 are members of another Christian denomination and 1/5th of no particular faith - I would be astonished if anyone can tell me what these are anymore.
Am I alone in being deeply troubled by this absence of God language in our Church? By the over-emphasis on management and lack of an evidence of interest in or concern for our tradition, beliefs and practices? Is this bureaucracy gone mad? These adverts might make for good management - but will they really help us to build a Godly ministry?