Things that are wrong with the Church of England #26
One of the joys of job-hunting in the Church of England is that you come across some priceless examples of self-delusion. Take for example this job in a rural diocese. In the extended advert there is this brilliant final line:
On his retirement from the benefice the previous priest wrote in the Church Magazine : â€œIn my years of ordained ministry the last six have been the best time of all.â€
Wow – he must have had some brilliantly productive and fruitful ministry in order to be able to say that.
Read the parish profile however and you see that the situation is not exactly rosy.
Attendance at non-festival services at AAA, BBB and CCC by residents of those villages rarely exceeds 10 in each case. People from the other villages can add to the number, particularly at AAA and BBB when there is no morning service at DDD. Normal attendance at a Communion Service at DDD is around 15 â€“ 20.
We now admit children to communion before confirmation. Four families make use of this at the moment but otherwise children and young people do not attend communion services. Currently only one family from the village with children attends any service at AAA and only two at CCC.
The profile tells you wonderful things about the bells and the war memorial, but not even a whisper of a suggestion that they want anybody to come to the Lord and be saved.
Frankly, I would consider somebody leaving four churches with an aggregated congregation not even reaching 50 and only four families attending across the four churches as a complete failure. Once you look at the Acorn profile for the area and see that it is rated high for proportion of families the extent of the inability to engage is simply accentuated.
Of course, examining the diocese you can see the problem isn’t just local to these churches – while the Church of England lost an average of under 1% of its congregations in 2007, this diocese managed a whopping 6.25%. Neighbouring dioceses with the same kind of profile however managed respectable rises in attendance. So what’s going on?
When the retiring priest said “In my years of ordained ministry the last six have been the best time of all”, is that because he sat around being able to do absolutely nothing but listen to the Archers? And what is the Church of England doing about clergy like this who are manifestly failing to have any impact? Sending them on advanced jam making courses? That would match the key first image to reflect the church that you come across on the profile – a badly arranged bunch of daffodils and higgledy-piggledy jars of home-made marmalade.
This kind of profile raises key questions about the management of churches like this where mission is manifestly not happening, yet nothing is done about the clergy who are failing in their duty.
/rant mode off
Some details have been changed to protect the blatantly guilty.