I have been really challenged by the various recent posts on clergy life (Paul’s blog)/white van man (Bishop Mike’s blog) and the like. As things stand, given the Church’s diminishing manpower and financial resources, it would seem that any newly-ordained priest faces a lifetime dominated by administration; mini-church politics (nightmare!); the prospect of spreading oneself very thinly between an increasing number of church congregations; and a very difficult family life! His or her original calling is likely to have become swamped in the process. The present model surely can’t continue to be applied in the Anglican Church. Paul’s comment about those considering strategies to cope with the future forgetting the parable of the seed (which needs to die if anything is to grow) seems entirely apt.
The Emerging/Alternative Church movement would seem to have much to commend it – albeit that it appears to thrive on the basis of relatively small, intimate groups. If I were a priest, I’m pretty sure this would be the kind of church community I’d like to lead/be part of - but initially, at least, I would need some financial security and the freedom to set up and establish (or take over) a church community without the need to provide all the other “services”. As a “follower”, I think I’d like to be part of a similar group. Over the next 10 years, I can only see more and more people opting for belonging to this type of church community – and, in all probability, such groups being assisted by the most talented and visionary leaders.
I'm incredibly naive on such matters, but maybe it’s against this backdrop that the Anglican Church (both nationally and regionally) should be starting to brainstorm bold and radical medium-/long-term strategies?
Photo: Staring into the distance on Berrow beach (with apologies to Paul Roberts for "borrowing" the inspired name of his blog - which is also pretty inspiring!)