Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Leading of the 5000: Redesigning the CofE

Update (20/7/12): the Church in Wales has just released a report which might give us a few pointers
Update 2 (Dec 2014) Chelmsford Diocese is starting to take these stats seriously

The latest stats from the Church of England don't tell us anything radically new, but the picture they paint is fairly consistent. From 2000-2010

Baptisms fell by 14%
Confirmations fell 39% to just 22,000
Church weddings fell 13.5%
Usual Sunday attendance fell 16% (see here and here for a breakdown by Diocese)
The number of funerals taken by CofE Clergy fell 26.5%
Easter attendance fell 15%
Christmas attendance fell 12%
Full-time clergy fell 14.5%

A couple of these stats have bottomed out recently - baptisms and weddings have been stable for the last 3-4 years. There are other fascinating stats, revealing that less than half of CofE churches have toilets and kitchen facilities, and less than half do anything involving the community on church premises. But it's the clergy numbers which I've been thinking about most.

In 2011 there were 7841 stipendiary clergy in the CofE. There were also over 1000 chaplains in various places, most of them ordained too.

The CofE is currently ordaining an average of 275 full time clergy a year. Our pension age is currently 68 - you can work until 70 if you want to, but others also retire early. The average age of ordinands (people recommended for training) is currently 43 for women and 38 for men. Male ordinands outnumber women about 3:2, so lets say the average age of ordinands is 40. Add on 3 years for arranging and completing training, and the average age of new vicars is 43.

Bear with me: if every year the CofE ordains 275 people, who work on average for 25 years, then our long-term full time workforce is 6875 full time clergy. Some of those will end up as archdeacons and bishops and cathedral staff (about 360 on current numbers) and others will end up in diocesan jobs, which leaves about 6200. There are currently around 1000 ordained clergy in chaplaincy jobs, in the NHS, armed forces, educational institutions, theological colleges etc.

Which leaves 5000 of us in parish ministry, some of whom will be in training posts, so not allowed (I nearly said 'not able', but that wouldn't be true) to run a church.

If the current figures merely flatline until we reach that level, each full-time vicar will be looking after an average of 3 church buildings in 2.5 parishes containing 10,000 people between them, with 200 regular (once a month or more) worshippers. They will take an average of 29 baptisms a year, see 5 new people confirmed, take 12 weddings and 34 funerals. Less than half of them will have any kind of informal meeting space, toilet facilities, or kitchen facilities within church premises, which will severely limit their ministry to the community. And they'll each have roughly 1 CofE school, no doubt with a 'tradition' that the vicar is chair of governors. Oh yes, and they'll be encouraged to develop 'fresh expressions of church' as well.

The stats project clergy numbers forward to 2016. I would suggest that someone needs to go further than that. We need to devise a way of being the CofE that can function with only 5000 full time staff, alongside the small army of volunteers, lay ministers and unpaid clergy. And we need to work out whether the paragraph above is a realistic job description.

One possible starting point: at present, 8 out of the 27 churches in our Deanery have membership in single figures. I don't know if that's typical, we probably have a higher proportion of rural churches than most. But that means that we have 8 churches which could currently meet from week to week in a house, rather than a 150-seater medieval Grade 1 listed building, which costs getting on for £10k a year to heat and insure. Yes those seats are needed for the baptisms, weddings and funerals (see above), but it's not as though there's a national shortage of church buildings at the moment.

Rationalising a bit might be part of the solution, though only part. That in turn begs a lot of questions about the parish system (maybe for another post! Sam Norton has already gone down this road), and there's other questions to ask about vicaring as a paid profession.  What else should we do?

Whoever our next Archbishop is, the CofE needs some serious strategic thinking if we're not to collapse under our own weight. Despite a bewildering array of measures of church attendance, there isn't a single one that at the moment is out of the red. We have to face the facts of being a shrinking church if we want to stop being a shrinking church.

Update: I note the Baptist church are currently looking at how, nationally, they can function best in growing healthy, missionary churches. The Methodists are exploring how to be 'a movement shaped for mission', and have a national statement of vision and values, and priorities for themselves as a whole church. Hello CofE? National leadership on this stuff is possible....


  1. David, thanks for this great analysis. As a former personnel manager I am amazed how little clear thinking is done about these things.

    But the situation could immediately be remedied by the very simple step of encouraging younger vocations. When I entered training I was 27 and was average in age then.

    The other corollary is that if you reduce the number of stipendiary ministers, attendance will fall.

  2. A helpful analysis, but it can lead to a variety of conclusions. There is some very interesting work going on in our Diocese (Southwell & Nottingham) to prepare for exactly this, and we had a very positive meeting of our Deanery Leadership Team last night looking at how we might respond to the agenda that is being set. It will involve less clergy but not necessarily less people on the 'payroll'. Personally I think this may be a God given opportunity to move away from clerical dependancy - I certainly don't see that there has to be a direct relationship between clergy numbers and church attendance. I was fascinated by what Alan Hirsch was saying at the New Wine Leaders Conference about the growth of the Church in China when all the professional leaders were removed and meeting in homes has been a massive part of this

  3. Fascinating and quite scary analysis, especially for those of us who are committed to one church-one vicar model, rather than clergy being stretched across miles being communion-machines rather than community-builders.

    I think the C of E basically sticks its head in the sand because there is nothing they can do, apart from major stuff, like closing churches, or encouraging younger vocations, which when the power-base of the church is men over 55 who think you need to have been ordained 20 years to know anything is unlikely to happen.

  4. Ian - at 43 I've been doing this for 14 years (scary thought) but am the average age of a new priest in 2010. I also see several clergy going under with the stress of the job, or through weak accountability and support structures.

    Mark - thankyou for the reminder, I wonder if God is trying to wean us off paid clergy, with as one of them is a challenging thought! The problem with the CofE is that each diocese is pretty much autonomous, so good work can be done in one, but there doesn't seem to be a way of spreading good practice. Though I enjoy my autonomy at parish level, sometimes I wish we had less of it, and a clearer lead from our Diocese, and the Diocese had a clearer lead from the centre.

  5. The model already exists for encouraging churches when clergy are few. The SEC set up discernment, and contouring training, among scattered churches in c. 2000 the aim was to help congregations to discern and call out from their own number, those with specific for children's ministry, for preaching (this with support, and weekly, emailed 'homilies' to help) for Presiding at Eucharist .. A neighbouring (ie within 100miles") priest visits every 6 weeks to consecrate the elements.
    This works brilliantly. In one remote Scottish church, the midwife, and the local postman, were called out, and they know everyone.
    The SEC Officer who spent several years on the road establishing this, is the Revd Ann Tomlinson, now in Glasgow Diocese.
    So, what keeps the C of E from doing this?

  6. Karen Freeman28/6/12 10:32 am

    Sobering reading, another pointer towards the need for leadership to become more about equipping and enabling the laity for ministry and mission rather than the ordained doing it all, which isn't healthy and was never the original idea anyway.

  7. Perhaps its the Victorian model of mission that's the problem. The Church has been around for a lot longer than 200 years! One wonders if there isn't a radically different way of being church, drawn from a much deeper well, less dependent on 'leadership' and other nonsense, non-Christian concepts.


  8. Benedictus - thankyou, it's good to know that churches can change, and rethink how they do things. There are a couple of things that prevents us, one is reluctance to face the facts (see other comments!), the other is leadership.

    I suppose you might add a third, which is the established status of the church, including the parish system. Not many Anglicans can work out how the CofE would exist if we pulled back from that.

  9. I am all for increasing lay-leadership, as I believe it is a biblical model to raise up leaders from within.. but the way this is done in Southwark (and probably elsewhere) demonstrates the middle-class bent of the church - to be a reader you now have to do 4 years training. In our working-class big-family-high-stress-low-literacy congregation, that is unfathomable. 4 years, one evening a week, to be able to preach? Who are they kidding. That's just not sustainable. We need preachers and leaders, not educated people with certificates.

  10. Hi David: thanks for the interesting figures. The trouble with your flat-lined figure of 5000 clergy is that by the time we get to that point, all the other figures will have moved. But you are right (later comment) that the established nature of the CofE makes a huge difference (so not at all like the SEC example from Scotland), or like the Methodists and Baptists here. However, the really depressing thing is that there are radical solutions that would really help – many people have outlined them, and I could do so again – but overall the leadership of the CofE is just not embracing them. Demography is a big problem, both for politicians and bishops today – politicians are presently scared to do things that displease or disadvantage pensioners because there are lot of them and lots of them vote; however they are not the ones who will have to live with the long-term effects of the decisions. The same with the CofE: the elderly keep the church afloat financially, but the way they insist the church continues to function keeps younger people out. And most sad of all, the elderly are willing to take the Church to the grave with them, all the time blaming the young for not following in their footsteps. The overall leadership issue for the CofE is intractable, and there is no point in looking for new hope there. But just as each Diocese is a little ‘kingdom’, so is each parish. And at that level young adults with faith can stage a coup d'état by joining the electoral role, voting each other on to PCCs and eventually as Church Wardens, and using the legal powers of PCCs and Wardens to make the life of their parish church different. The CofE can only change one parish at a time.

  11. David - thanks for your perceptive thoughts. How about being even more radical and admitting that the CofE is declining, and we ought to leave it to the older generations to manage its decline, while the young (and more radical of us oldies) start a parallel church? Church attendance nationally is increasing - but the establishes (small "e") denominations are shrinking. Let's start a new non-CofE denomination within the Church of England!

  12. David Muir30/6/12 3:38 pm

    Blakcjack: I don't quite see how something could be 'within the Church of England' and be 'non-CofE'. The CofE IS the established church of this country, inshrined in law; the only question is what to do with it. One mechanism, as you hint, is to start new and parallel congregations. In fact, the present 'fresh expressions' agenda of the CofE, which has official approval from the 'top', gives us a framework for doing just that. Where elderly congregations are determined to take their parish church to the grave with them, we need to let them do it and start something else alongside meantime. In due course this new congregation can inherit the church building back again -- if it wants it.

  13. Very interesting reading and sharply presented. I also looked at Sam Norton's blogpost. We have to start doing things differently but can we? I remeber the days when, as an ordinand, we all said Tiller was right but could we get anyone to implement his recommendations? We'd be in a better place if we had! We need younger ordinands and to allow older ordinands who are suitable through the selection process more quickly (recenly heard of a young retired person who what told he'd have to wait 4 years!) We need Deanery plans for mission that focus on lay teams and lay vocations as well as 'where to place the clergy', we need to use mission field expertise from other coutries and (most difficult of all!) we need to decide which buildings to keep and simplify legal processes around appointments, suspensions and Common tenure. Common Tenure has created a lot more work which is non-mission focused - I identify with Sam's post about middle management. You might like to read a blogpost I wrote called 'Too much recording to what purpose?' which picks up exacrtly the point that the church is now following where scholls and NHS have gone. BUT I would say that of the 180 or so churches I regularly visit, many are extremely full of life, if small. An awful lot of people who worship and serve in the community through their church do not show up in church stats beacuse they do this on days other than Sunday and they don't engage with the traditional routes into the church - but they are there.

  14. David Muir2/7/12 9:15 am

    Hi Janet: the trouble with Tiller was that it needed the leadership of the CofE to make the key difficult decisions. Plans that require this will always fail. These leaders have progressed to where they are mostly because they fit the way things are. We need solutions that can be enacted at parish level unilaterally, or probably at 'benefice' level as many clergy have multiple parishes, maybe at 'team' level where there are team ministries. Deanery level is weak because a deanery has no legal standing. We need a unit of decision-making where clergy-responsibility and lay-representation match up -- so in a multi-parish benefice we need a joint PCC, for example (and there are legal arrangements for that). We are then in a position where we can begin to make some tough choices.

    One tough choice in rural areas is stopping doing 'weekly public worship' in every parish. We need to keep every village church open for baptisms, weddings, funerals, christmas, easter, harvest, remembrance day etc., because that is where the mission opportunities are. But we need ONE eucharist for the whole benefice on Sunday, to which all committed members come. As long as the local Christians agree, this can be done; and local people who often block changes in churches (like taking out pews) will not even notice.

    There are things that can be done. But we need to choose the right 'level' of decision-making if anything is to come of them. Hand-wringing about what the leadership should do will not get us anywhere.

  15. Agree with much of what you say, David! Actually it's beginning to happen round here - small changes about how people worship and when, churches majoring on festivals, occasional offices and special services like lambing, harvest, plough Sundays, school celebrations, etc. One group of churches in a Dale, including ecumenical partners, getting together to employ one architect who will help them rationalize the care and use of their buildings. It's happening from the grass roots up and the 'leadership' role is to be supportive and make it possible. Some benefices and teams are going for pastoral schemes to reduce numbers of PCC's etc. It can be done provided people are willing to use the legal systems creatively. But I disagree about Deaneries - certainly, in this part of the world, they are key units (this was what I think Tiller got right) and they are infact legal entities with some limited powers. We have devolved a lot of decision making about finance and deployment to our Deaneries. The important thing is to get people onto synods who have the interests and skils needed and to allow them to make a difference. Not to get too bogged down with red tape. Hope you are well and enjoying life!

  16. Janet: I think Tiller was right in his day/context -- that we need to work at the level above 'parish', which in his day was effectively Deanery. I used to argue this myself. But church life has moved on, and a lot of church life (especially in more rural places) operates in 'united benefices', teams or 'mission communities'. Our Deanery here is composed of only two mission communities, making the Deanery a bit redundant. These are actually more manageable units of cooperation, as most Deaneries were always a bit big for this.

    I think we need to rethink what Deaneries are best suited for, given the new context of multiple parishes on the ground. And my best thought is to redraw the boundaries to co-incide with secular borough boundaries, to enhance engagement with and create a prophetic voice within local government. And it would be feasible in such a structure to conflate the posts of Archdeacon and Rural Dean, to create ArchDeans to give significant leadership to new and larger ArchDeaneries, and a direct link between bishops and parishes. In Devon we could reduce our present 24 deaneries to 10 in this way. And the engagement with secular local government could be very fruitful in terms of mission and credibility.

  17. Interesting. Were deeply rural here, too and cover huge amounts of territory. We've succeeded in reducing our deaneries to four and we have readers and others working across whole deaneries in some places. We have a lot of what I'd call 'midsized' benefices/teams. The biggest is 13 churches, 10 PCCs but a more usual size is around 6-8 churches. We have some burgeoning fresh expressions and ministry projects that cross benefice and deanery and even diocesan boundaries. I sense a lot of support across deaneries. The Dioceses Commission is currently reviewing three of the Yorkshire dioceses and their experience seems to show that it is not easy to tie things up with local government boundaries (partly because these are always evolving and partly because they themselves cross other boundaries the churches work with - ecumenical and natural geographical. They got the local govt boundaries seriously wrong in Yorkshire in 1974 and there is real fear here of the church repeating the same mistake.) My sense is that one shape does not fit all and the important thing is to find out what will work in terms of mission in a particular context. I would resist any sense that we all have to do it one particluar way - where deaneries work - great! Where they obstruct, let's be more driven by partnerships that work such as local govt. or ecumenical. In Nottingham we created 'enhanced area deans' which sounds a bit like what you are suggesting, for much larger units and that seems to work quite well. I've always thought that archdeacons' jobs could be divided up between the various depratments we work with - legal, finance, buildings, mission, HR, training. In Nottongham we did indeed write a report that suggested this; however, I've not found any diocese which has had the courage to act on this to date. Here, we have a saying that every place has to work out what mission means in its own context - deanery and diocesan personnel and structrues are there to support whatever works in terms of mission locally. I think things need to change radically but I do think that sometimes the answer lies in us being a bit more creative and flexible with the legal frameworks we have. Most boundaries can be treated as dotted lines! David K -thank you for hosting this exchange on your blog!

  18. Interesting article and discussion!
    The stats are rather skewed by having urban & rural lumped together, so my rural situation doesn't look like the projection, but in conflicting directions.
    I already have 6 parishes, 6 buildings, 6 PCCs (as part of a team of 13 of each!) but the population is only about 4000 and the pastoral offices load is nothing like as high as the projection.
    Only 2 of my churches have worship every week, there are zero toilets at present, though 2 parishes are at 'faculty' stage in their projects to install them (the 2 which have worship every week, unsurprisingly).
    The idea of getting people to worship in homes is a total non-starter in my situation - the building is _way_ too important to those communities to be sidelined in that way (cripplingly expensive to maintain and lacking in any humane facility though it be).
    Civil and ecclesiastical parish boundaries are identical (for almost all practical purposes) and people are generally very unwilling to travel outside their own parishes for worship (even though they have to for just about everything else in their lives...)
    The one thing which would make the clergy job significantly closer to doable would be to remove bureaucracy by (for example) merging PCCs, but even if the legalities could be worked out, I would foresee immense resistance from the PCCs themselves (many of whose members in some places aren't actually churchgoers).

  19. I wonder how much the sharp increase in younger generations identifying as agnostic or atheists will have an impact?

  20. I have just come across this thread and find it very interesting, though not especially depressing as the underlying trend and story is one I am aware of. David, could I ask you to consider slight changes to the terms you use? As someone who follows the vocation of a worker-priest, I wish paid clergy would not describe themselves as 'full time' in contradistinction to people like me (there can no more be part-time priesthood than part-time baptism). I too am a full time priest, but not paid by the institution and seeking to express my calling in non-church settings in addition to the parish I am licensed to. (If being provocative I could point out that some clergy on 'full' pay seem not obvioulsy to turn in a full week's 'work' - though I accept such are a minority, and I feel real concern for those paid clergy who are saddled with multiple parishes to serve). Like you and some respondents, I am troubled by the apparent lack of attention to these issues by those who lead the church (lay and espicopal). And the lack of support for individual clergy (of all types)from the institution strikes me as recklessly absent. Another thought about the use of language. 'Church' seems always used to mean institution and building and linked priest. I can't think that so narrow a working definition helps, or is adequate. Best wishes, keep the faith! Hugh

  21. Spawnee - I guess we'll find out, the average age of people going into paid vicaring is going up, as is the average age of congregations, so the window of opportunity for the CofE to respond to things is rapidly closing.

    Hugh - good point, thankyou for making it. I guess I was avoiding the term 'stipendiary' as its churchy jargon not used anywhere else. I wonder if actually we're part of the problem, creating a client mentality in many Anglicans. I've been with a 'full time' priest today, a layperson in a new housing estate, who is there out of a sense of mission, but have also been in a kitchen with 2 of us serving and a queue of 20 expecting to be served, rather than seeing the need and getting behind the counter.

    I could point you to three fairly local parishes where the local priest has all but gone under, lack of support has been a key factor, but we also need to learn what support we need and accept it/seek it out, that's often a lesson learned too late in the day.

  22. Just to say that this discussion prompted me to read the Tiller report - with some consequent thoughts written up here:

  23. Hi quotidiancleric: I think you are right about bureaucracy -- or rather about 'governance', as the burden of governance in multiple parish benefices is crippling. And you are right about rural church buildings. We need credible fixes for these. A key component, I think, is creating separate funds for 'ministry' and 'building' and putting a firewall between them. People will give more when they are clear where their money is going. The building fund should be administered by each parish PCC, responsible for its building. But the ministry fund, and planning how to spend money for the ongoing ministry and mission of the church, including paying for clergy etc., should be done at benefice level. There are already ways of creating Joint PCCs, so it is not a legal nightmare. Clergy can then focus their energies on the 'ministry' side of things, leaving parish Wardens and PCCs to sustain buildings. People may not like it, but it needs to be done. Key will be support from the senior staff of a diocese, when the going gets rough. Despite my own diocese having a policy of 'mission communities' they still assess 'common fund' by parishes... why???

  24. The analysis is good, except for one factor that has been missed out. That is the number of CofE clergy who are leaving to join the Catholic Church. That must be running at around 50 per year at the present time.

    If we assume that on average these leave the CofE 12 years before their retirement age, then the the total number of active clergy is reduced by another 600.

    Presumably, there are also clergy who die in service, or who leave for other reasons. Maybe another 600 should be deducted.

  25. An interesting collection of important points about the church's human resources. Thanks.
    One further observation from someone who has been a priest in chaplaincies/cathedrals/outside the parochial system nearly all his ministry- Many clergy seem to be disregarded when they leave those bits the hierarchy can manage (the parochial system). This can be to the detriment of both them and the church- especially as many minister (e.g. in armed forces or education) disproportionately to those outside the church.
    Also, I suspect the numbers of clergy that are simply not accounted for is greater than many might imagine. Has anyone ever studied what I think in other professions is called "wastage"? Have we statistics? I was shocked to discover how many I was at theological college had quietly drifted out of ministry altogether.
    Might many of the clergy at the edges have something special to contribute to the shrinking core, if ever they chose to, or were asked to?

  26. Anonymous - there's a discussion on 'wastage', including statistics, in Killing George Herbert. Roughly speaking, with no wastage, we wouldn't be facing declining numbers. As it happens, in a conversation with my bishop the other day, he mentioned that the Diocese needs to think about 'retention'.

  27. Although the shrinking stipendiary ministry is a problem, it's solved to a large extent if the whole problem of the shrinking ministry is solved. How about some good old-fashioned proselytism? Like our Mormon or non-denominational Evangelical friends? Try to get parishioners to get some friends over on a Sunday and see what it's like. CoFE has so much to offer: beautiful liturgy with the poetic words of Cramner, choral music, beautiful settings of charming little churches or imposing cathedrals... People pay for this sort of thing (e.g., a concert in a cathedral).
    When I went to Oxford (living abroad before), I decided to walk in the local parish church, and thought it wonderful. But suppose I never walked in? Some people need a nudge.

  28. Oops, that sounded rather circular. I meant to say "if the problem of the shrinking church attendance is solved".

  29. On clergy leaving for Rome: all I have heard about are priests who are already over retirement age and who therefore leave with their CofE pension to live on, rather than having to survive on RC terms and conditions. So I don't think it affects numbers of active CofE clergy.

    And I think the big 'wastage' issue (and it will increase) is those priests who want to move but only find impossible jobs to apply for (look after 12 independent parishes including chairing all their PCCs etc.), and who eventually find something else to do when their present post becomes untenable. We already have a lot of clergy hanging in with their present post, although they know they ought to move, because all the alternatives are worse. It's not good for the work of the Church. Numbers are only one side of it; having the right people in the right places is the other.

  30. A really good analysis of the issues shared by so many across the church.

    We have a 5 church benefice, shortly to become 9. One Vicar and a HFD who works many more hours than contracted. Priesthood is 24/7, 365 a year. In fact, they could be described as the 1st Emergency Service. Many people don't want a priest in their life until some drama erupts and they expect them to appear on demand!

    Along with all of the issues and possible solutions propounded here, that's the issue that I see, the expectation that the Priest is there, on tap, and if not, the Church has failed.

    A bit like Doctor's used to be treated until they got militant and overturned the norm.

    I'm not advocating revolution, just a complete rethink of how Parish Clergy are trained, deployed and what can or should, be 'reasonably' expected of them. I note the horror stories quoted by David, of clergy burning out. Surely, in this day and age, we have a duty of care to prevent this happening? We need to reduce the burden of administration and unnecessary meetings on clergy to allow them to lead, care and to inspire.

    The old saw of Clergy being Office Holders and doing it for love (not money) is outdated and no longer fit for purpose. A Priest is a highly trained, imminently well qualified professional pastor for his or her flock. It's time that was recognised and the salary and terms and conditions reflect that, just as in any other profession. I accept that it is a calling, but that shouldn't mean that Clergy are treated like volunteers, who happen to get a few quid for helping out.

    The other aspect is the enabling and empowering of the laity. Dick Van De Berg has been writing along these lines on his blog for some time, with very little feedback, although a few brick bats.

    Laura Sykes as Lay Anglicana has been pushing this agenda from the viewpoint of an underused Worship Leader, actually disenfranchised in her diocese.

    The Arch Bishop of Canterbury spoke nice words last year of his vision of a Pastor in every community, whether lay or ordained, didn't seem to matter as part of the Re-Imagining Ministry initiative. Our diocese is working on this, but progress is slow as I sense resistance from they more traditional parishes. But they are pushing on with it - and I hope to be part of that re-imagining as it develops. But where is the lead from the Arch Bishops Council and Church house on this - nothing but a deathly silence?

    We work within a supportive and functional deanery, which has performed very well in the past few years - now, we are told we are to be merged with another, which is in trouble, bigger seeming to be better. This is combined with the potential loss of another three stipendiary clergy across both deaneries in the next three years. I believe that it's too early for that merger, but that's me showing resistance to losing a good working model for one that might be a bit more dis-functional, and will need 3 or 4 years for relationships to be built and embedded.

    I'm unsure of whether the current leadership of the church, with one or two exceptions have the breadth of vision or courage to take the risks and implements some of the restructuring that is needed. Much of which would need legislation and the whole synodical process, which would delay things for years, by which time it might be too late.

    Now is the time for action, now is the time for a few brave men or women to step forward and make the case for change now, not next decade or next century.