Monday, July 02, 2012

CofE Mission Fund: £45m + 43 Dioceses = ?

Hidden in the background papers for this weekends General Synod is some analysis of how £45m of mission development money is being spent in the CofE. The Fund has been in place since 2002, and is used in a widely varying way between the 43 Dioceses. 10 years in, and we are just about to get some evaluation of how well this money is being spent. Ah well, the CofE never did things in a rush.

The totals by diocese are here, and a project-by-project breakdown for 2011 is here. (and if we can get a full run-down of all the 2011 projects and their funding by June 2012, why can't we do the same with membership data?)

There seem to be 3 different approaches to using the money
 - significant funds for a small number of strategic projects, usually a mixture of Diocesan and local (e.g. Bristol, London, Southwell & Nottingham)
 - fund a lot of small projects in as many corners as possible (e.g. Bath and Wells, Durham)
 - fund strategic Diocesan posts and initiatives to resource mission across the whole Diocese (e.g. Exeter, Ely)

There's an impressive array of different things going on and being tried out, as well as one or two things where it looks like money is being spent either on things which should already be in the budget, or things which aren't obviously to do with mission start-up costs.

It's obviously harder to evaluate lots of smaller projects than it is to evaluate one or two big ones. But it's also indicative of the way the CofE works. I can guarantee this: even if the evaluations demonstrate that one of the above 3 approaches is far more effective than either of the other two, the vast majority of Dioceses will carry on doing what they currently do. Why? Because the CofE may offer plenty of scope for experimentation, but there is no robust system for identifying, and then implementing, best practice. Every Diocese is its own kingdom, and every parish within them is a mini-Diocese.

Stop me if I've said this before, but until the CofE develops, and learns to accept, strategic national leadership, we will not make the best of the current window of opportunity for mission which the Mission Fund and Fresh Expressions gives us. If you want to get into that debate, look at the comments on this post from last week, on projections of vicar numbers.


  1. A question from a novice in this field.

    Winchester (my diocese) appear to have identified by Deanery/Parish a spend of £92,930 but have 'spent' (according to your other grid) all their allocated £122,850 with no carry forward.

    Is my maths out or is there likely to be an explanation for this discrepancy?

  2. "Ask yourself what is the single biggest difference between religion in America and religion in Europe. I think the answer is that the Reformation in Europe ended up being nationalised, and the result was the creation of state monopoly churches, like the Church of England. But here in the United States, they maintained the separation of church and state, and the result was competition between multiple churches. And that may be the real reason for the strange death of religion in Europe. In religion, as in business, state monopolies are inefficient."

    Niall Ferguson, Civilization – Is the West History? Channel 4, 10 April, 8:00pm

    Ferguson may be an atheist, but his analysis is right. From an organisational point of view, the C of E is comparable to the old nationalised BOAC and BEA airlines. Inefficient, lumbering, ineffective. It needs to devolve nearly all its responsibilities to parish level. Can't see the turkey bishops voting for Christmas though.

    Easyjet church anyone?

  3. Not that £45m over 10 years amounts to much, really. About a fiver a week for each church.

    Compare that to one of the real money wasters - almost empty church buildings. I estimate 50% of the 16,000 or so Anglican church buildings attract less than 25 people on a Sunday. Assume - and this is a very, very big assumption - you could close them (or allow them to die in my devolved responsibility model). Let's further assume £15,000 maintenance per year for each church building, including major work. That would give almost £300 per week to the remaining churches for mission.


    Well, perhaps not, but the principle is right.Will anything like this happen?

    No. Because the C of E

    Loves bishops
    Loves buildings
    Loves bureacracy

    but, in reality,

    Doesn't care much about people