Over the last few months I have written about Missional Leadership
, and Portfolio Church
. However one of the greatest challenges for Church of England parishes is good governance. What follows must be contextually realised - there is a huge difference between a country parish and an estate parish. However here is stuff that I have seen work, and often discovered by accident.
If you have a ministry team (lay and ordained) then meet and pray on a regular basis. If you are multi-parish then celebrate the Eucharist together.
In theory every volunteer in a church should have a job description. But to start with it is important that at least key roles do. Especially Church Wardens, Readers and Lay Ministers. There is no off the shelf answer to what they should include. Church Wardens in particular have diverse roles and skills. However a lot of difficulty can be avoided if people have shared expectations. It should go without saying that the key officer roles in a church should have an expectation of christian commitment and discipleship. Not just Wardens (who are required to be able to lead worship in a crisis), but Treasurer, PCC Secretary, Vice Chair, Deanery Synod Representatives, and others. This can be expressed in a simple grid
that looks like this:
The advantage of having a form that applies across the church family with the same expectations.
A Standing Committee can be more than an occasional group required to make emergency decisions. Instead of monthly Church Wardens Meetings a broader Standing Committee is more representative and can do significant work on projects before options are presented to a PCC for a decision. A good Standing Committee could include one other representative of a ministry team than the Vicar (a Reader for example), Wardens, Treasurer, PCC Secretary, a Deanery Synod representative as well as others from the PCC. The important thing is avoid only a small number of people in the church (Wardens and Vicar typically) having to keep on top of everything that is going on. Such a group gives the opportunity to mentor future Wardens, and for everyone to share power and responsibility.
PCCs are democratically appointed. However PCCs themselves have a responsibility to encourage people to stand who will ensure all sections, congregations and generations of the church are represented. Timed agendas, a regularly updated Mission Action Plan (with space to acknowledge failures) and time for prayer are all simple components of a successful PCC.
If your PCC meets every month, but spends half the time talking about the Hall, Roof or Toddler Group then you would probably be better off with a subcommittee. But the important thing is not to end up doing both. Have the PCC every other month and the subcommittee(s) in between.
As well as formal Subcommittees with delegated power from the PCC you can create groups with a focus on a particular aspect of church life. These groups can be open to anyone in the congregation, and need not be permanent - they can last for a season. Action groups need to do as well as talk (the same can be said for some subcommittees): A Worship Action Group can talk about all worship, but should take responsibility for particular services. A Mission Action Group should run mission events.
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