A RADICAL overhaul of the Church of England's leadership is under way.
"A key report, still unpublished, sets out a programme of "talent management" in the Church. The report has been signed off by the two Archbishops, and a £2-million budget has been allocated. It was discussed by all the bishops in September, and the House of Bishops on Monday. A spokesman said on Wednesday that the Bishops "welcomed the implementation plan prepared in the light of those discussions. Details will be published next month."
The Church Times has seen the report, Talent Management for Future Leaders and Leadership Development for Bishops and Deans: A new approach, prepared by a steering group chaired by Prebendary the Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint, the former HSBC chairman. It speaks of a "culture change for the leadership of the Church", and outlines a two-stage process.
In stage one, which is in the process of being implemented, all diocesan bishops and deans are expected to attend a residential modular development programme run by a secular university or business school. The modules are entitled: "Building healthy organisations", "Leading growth", and "Reinventing the ministry".
In between modules, the bishops and deans will be expected to review their actions within the framework of theological reflection and prayer, which includes a spiritual retreat. The programme is to be mandatory.
The more radical move comes at stage two. The Green report proposes that training for senior leadership in the Church - bishops and deans, but also archdeacons, incumbents of large churches, and heads of mission societies - takes place before appointment.
For this to happen, a "talent pool" of up to 150 "high-potential individuals" will be identified and enrolled in an intensive training course, lasting up to five years, by which time they can be expected to have obtained senior appointment. The pool will be overseen by the Development and Appointments Group (DAG), and managed by an enlarged staff under Caroline Boddington, the Archbishops' Secretary for Appointments, based at the Wash House in the grounds of Lambeth Palace. [see here]
Perhaps an renewed emphasis on rigorous theological and pastoral priestly formation and a passion for proclaiming the Gospel in our future 'leaders' would be more apposite under the circumstances. The Ministry needs not to be 'reinvented' but reinvigorated: 'Prebendary' Lord Green is clearly no St Charles Borromeo ...
A more cynical observer might describe this report as a bureaucratic power grab - an attempt to institutionalise the already self-perpetuating liberal oligarchy that has engineered itself - through a ruthless use of patronage - into total control of western Anglicanism with results which we can now see all around us.
However, that these proposals - essentially to clone the present 'establishment' and its values and prejudices - should emanate from a committee headed by a former investment banker really does beggar belief; not only does the Church, forgetting its own centuries-old fund of expertise, pastoral skills and learning, instinctively cringe before today's secular 'experts,' but it now seems to want to adopt the last decade's failed management solutions ... except that, unlike the banking industry, we will not be bailed out by the taxpayer when things go badly wrong...
The Dean of Christ Church, Martyn Percy's comments [here] are to the point .
And a somewhat irreverent thought for the end of the second week of Advent:
'God so loved the world that he didn't send a management consultant ... '