James Lawrence from CPAS on leadership, growth and the Church of England. Excellent input, here's some direct quotes, summaries of key bits, and comments:
"leadership is never about the leaders, it's always about serving the King, and the priorities of the Kingdom."
Why is leadership development important?
- Jesus modelled it
- Research suggests it (clear link between good leadership and church growth)
- Situation requires it: we are in a mission setting, most clergy are not in a ministry they were ever trained for ("anyone trained more than 10 years ago is now finding the church is constantly asking then to do things they weren't trained for"), and there are the financial realities of decline too. However, it is mission which must drive the growth strategy, not clergy or finance.
What sort of leaders?
- licensed leaders in churches
- unlicensed leaders in churches (i.e. everybody! a lot of Fresh Expressions of Church are led by people with no formal training or accreditation)
- leaders in the scattered church - 7 days a week at work and in the community.
What CPAS has learned about leadership development:
- Needs to be creative "leaders are best developed in context, with others, over time, through multiple layers, by leaders" take any one of these factors out and you massively diminish the effectiveness of the development.
- Think theologically: "the Judeo-Christian tradition provides the longest continuous source of reflection on the question of leadership in the whole of human history" (Steve Croft).
We can pick up tips from secular business and leadership thinking, but our root thinking must be theological, there are many seams below ground which we can mine: e.g. that a good Christian leader is not someone with lots of followers, but someone who is following Jesus; that leadership is based on call & covenant, not contract; that vision comes from God, not from human preferred futures. "if we don't go down the mine we will end up with something that is less than Christian leadership."
- Start young:
a) Research on tweenagers shows that the single biggest reason they leave the church is that they weren't asked to contribute anything significant. (my kids both want to operate the powerpoints in church, and my 10 year old is learning how to construct a presentation). Are we teaching our children to consume or contribute? It's a lesson they'll learn for life.
b) Generation Y are a 'different breed' from Gen X, and need to be engaged in leadership in a different way. "it would be a terrible thing if the way we do leadership development only engages with people who are over 35."
CPAS now working with 23 dioceses on leadership development. Also tailoring a set of new resources:
- Lead on e-bulletin (well worth getting, sign up here)
- 'Growing Through a Vacancy' resource for churches currently being piloted and refined, aiming for autumn publication. "A lot of the things that help churches have good vacancies are not rocket science."
- Multi parish benefice work - pilot with 3 dioceses to get clergy learning together about this. Clergy simply aren't trained for this, most of it based on a 1 vicar 1 church 1 parish model (and a lot of ordinands come from this background) "this has to be one of the biggest issues the Church of England currently faces" (note to non-Anglicans: in trying to maintain the parish system and not close any churches, the CofE requires its decreasing numbers of clergy to take on ever higher numbers of churches, grouped in a 'benefice'. Near me in Dorset is one grouping of 13 churches.)
- Resource for Church Councils (PCCs) to think through their local leadership, due in 2014. "we want to change the culture of PCCs in the Church of England."
Lots to think about, I was particularly led to think about my own developing of other leaders. To do it properly, I actually need to spend more time with people as they are actually leading, rather than in 1-to-1s on a separate occasion. It's not just that we need to develop leaders, we need to develop leaders who can themselves develop leaders. "For the sake of many, invest in a few".
And how do we develop our clergy leaders? If development in context is important, the time they spend as curates will probably be more formative than the time in theological study. Do training vicars get ongoing coaching in how they develop their curates? Shouldn't the diocese be approaching growing, well-led parishes with a track record of leadership development to ask them to take on curates, rather than having a bidding process and sharing things out by churchmanship? It should be a basic minimum that every vicar in the CofE has been part of a growing church, and the only way to guarantee that is to make it a basic requirement of every curacy.
I'm more painfully aware than ever that I'm trying to do leadership development without very much idea of what I'm doing or how best to go about it........