The Impact of Selection and Training

According to positive psychology, part of gaining a sense of well being is achievement and being “in the zone“. One of the things that can affect this how people are selected and trained for a role. If square pegs are placed in round holes, and then asked to do things that do not come naturally to them then neither are likely to be achieved and hence well being will not be enhanced (and potentially the opposite).

The current selection criteria for ordained ministry are:

A. Christian faith, tradition and life
B. Mission, evangelism and discipleship
C. Spirituality and worship
D. Relationships
E. Personality and character
F. Leadership, collaboration and community
G. Vocation and ministry within the Church of England

About 50% of the requirements listed in adverts in the Church Times for incumbency roles fall into the ” Leadership, collaboration and community” criteria – is sufficient emphasis placed on this during selection, and in subsequent training?

I don’t know – but I do know that I have met plenty of clergy who say something like: “I was called to be a priest, not a manager” – well, yes, but incumbency requires both. In “If you meet George Herbert on the road, kill him” Justin Lewis-Anthony suggests that the days of clergy ministering in the way of George Herbert did, doing lots of pastoral visiting, is past – parishes are bigger (Herbert’s parish had fewer than 200 people, and he ministered with the assistance of two other clergy) and the amount of administration associated with governance (safeguarding, GDPR, faculties…) was almost non existent. And that is before we talk about mission and working in circumstances where the vast majority of the parish no longer have faith. If I wanted to talk to everyone in my parish they would each get 15 minutes a year, and nothing else would get done. If clergy do not want to be managers, then perhaps their calling isn’t to incumbency – there are roles which don’t require less of this (eg Associate Ministers) and it might be that the church should create more of these.

Then there is also the question of when Management/Leadership is best trained. Two recent blog posts contributed to my thinking on this:
is it time to scrap the curacy
speaking of liturgy and theological formation
the first suggests scrapping the curacy, and the second that too much time is spent on management during pre-ordination training, and not enough on liturgy.

The most effective training I received on Management/Leadership when I was in industry was that given on the job by some form of mentoring or other. In a similar vein, I would suggest that new incumbents (and arguably all incumbents) should have a mentor to work through the practical issues that they encounter in their ministry – much as they have spiritual directors and counsellors available. Some dioceses will provide some form of work consultancy, but this isn’t always widely taken up.

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