Experience in management at Philips electronics was very similar to his experience of the Diocese of Blackburn: a culture resistant to change, internal conflict, suspicion of top-down initiatives, intuitive rather than strategic leadership, falling performance, losing customers and best employees.
Change in both Philips and in the Diocese involved finding a common strategy process (not a strategy but a strategy process - Mission Action Planning is a process for discerning strategy, which looks different at each local level)
“the most important element of any strategy is actually desire…if someone doesn’t want to do it, it’s not going to happen, or it’s going to be done very poorly.” How do we generate the desire for change and growth within the church?
Training leaders and training them to train others "was probably the most powerful thing we did"
2 reviews, in 2007 (after 2 years) and 2010. On both occasions, showed that churches which had engaged most fully with MAPping had grown, those which didn't shrank.
Of the 20 Diocese registering growth 2010-11, 15 are using Mission Action Planning in some form (the national total was 19 at the time, so of the 23 which were flat or declined, only 4 were using MAPs)
Bob Jackson on the national stats:
'it's a little bit early to relax and rejoice' - there's a 100 year long downward trend before the latest minor levelling out. 2000-10 is better than the 1990s, but it's still all negative numbers.
CofE is looking at new membership measures: "church is not an attendance event, its an ongoing community" so things which measure belonging to the community, rather than attendance at events, are closer to the heart of what it is to be the church.
Trialled in Lichfield: usual Sunday attendance of 26,000, worshipping participants 47,000 - on the new measure the Diocese is 75% bigger than the Sunday snapshot would suggest.
Joiners and leavers data: parishes in Lichfield asked to register membership, numbers joining (and why) and leaving (and why). This showed a net increase of 1300-1400 per year, with 50% of the joiners (roughly 4,000 in total) having no previous church background. Also helped the diocese to see how many were joining/leaving through transfers, births & deaths etc. 'Much more useful, richer statistics.'
There are now 1800 registered Messy Churches as of Feb 2013, the number is almost doubling every year, and there are many unregistered Messy Churches too, Jackson estimated 2 for every registered congregation. Average attendance is 55. That's 100,000 people in the registered ones, but membership will be more than attendance because people don't come every week. So there could be up to 400,000 people involved across the UK.
Comment: it's a mixed picture. Part of the energy for growth is coming from a dread of decline, rather than a positive theology of growth as the normal business of the church. Will more positive stats and good news lull us back into complacency? Can we find an engine for growth and change that isn't the prospect of imminent death (not a great motivator) but that is more to do with the love of God and the gospel of Jesus?
On a personal level, this thing about being trained to train others well keeps coming up. I'm not, and I know I need to be.