Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Pastoral Ministry by Project Management

I believe it was Justin Lewis-Anthony in If you meet George Herbert - and if it wasn't it may have been Oscar Wilde or somebody else - who drew my attention to this idea. The contention is that local pastoral and worship-leading ministry is essentially endless, and uncontrollable. Which is why so many religious fellowship leaders get into building projects - where you have a deliverable, and a close.

People who are ill, for example. I know it's not their fault, but as their spiritual helper it would be handy if I had some way of managing the time they are ill for - frankly, if they let their illnesses just drag on there's no real closure for any of us.

Then take the word "cycle". It is often used as in "The Pastoral Cycle", "The 2 great liturgical cycles" or "there's that Revd Warnock, off for a cycle." For every funeral, there is a baptism. The great stretch of Sundays After Trinity give way, every year, to Christ the King and then Advent. Here in Husborne Crawley, as Imbolc ends we look to the Equinox. As spring greens in, Beltane succeeds Equinox, to be followed by Midsummer. Frankly, it never ends.

Whereas all the great Biblical stories are, fundamentally, accounts of great project management. Moses leading the People of Israel out to the Promised Land, for example. OK, it was 40 years over schedule, and they had to replace the Project Manager to "land" it. But the deliverables were clear. Mark's Gospel is a good example of a clear Project Brief being delivered. The Acts of the Apostles is about a project to take the Gospel from Jerusalem to Rome. And Solomon's Temple and its pilot, the Tabernacle? Speak for themselves.  The Epistles and the Law and Prophets, on this reading, can best be described as "Governance".

And so I am introducing "Pastoral Ministry by Project Management." All pastoral or worship-related tasks will be given a Project Brief, setting out roles, responsibilities and an indicative timescale.

Instead of just making each day's liturgy up as we go along, I will be aiming at four worship book "releases" per year. These will fit into the four Great Beaker Quarter Days. And worship book releases being late will of course mean we have no liturgy for a quarter - or at least until we catch up.

Anyone being ill will be added onto our "sickness backlog", and assigned a severity and a planned "well again" date. Instead of visitors, they will be given a "workstream leader", responsible to me for all illness-related deliverables, and a budget for anointing oil, tea lights and cloths for mopping brows. Anyone being ill past a 10% tolerance will have to write an exception report, and the Project Board will have to approve the extension of their Project. If the Board doesn't, they'll just have to stop being ill. I know people will say this is draconian, but the Government's been piloting this process and I reckon it's gonna work.

And just in case the illness stuff gets us down, I'm gonna be launching a new, "Agile", building project every six weeks. The first one being a new Doily Shed.

This is gonna be a new, less-fluffy, more-focussed Beaker Folk. I feel more engaged and fulfilled already.


  1. Yay! Namecheck! (10 p to the Moot House rewiring fund for you…)

  2. I must have missed you at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit last week. You were clearly there.

  3. I've never been a fan of project management. It's Un-Anglican and Un-British.

    As a nation we are experts at fudge and muddling through. We eventually get there and build wonderful, if a bit quirky, things that Wow the world.

    Surely, our gifts to the world, Football, Cricket, Murder Ball, Gym Slips and Suspenders demonstrate that they could only have been developed by a genuine eccentric genius, who was British, through and through.

    No, project management is the work of the devil, it allows trains and buses to run on time. It allows tradesmen or delivery guys to turn up, unexpectedly, on time and does away with the 'great British moan'.

    It must be banned as soon as Parliament gets over it's current stalemate between condem and actually pass some legislation that doesn't disenfranchise all of us.


Drop a thoughtful pebble in the comments bowl