Tuesday, 7 June 2022

Reduced Effort, Increased Resilience

As we unwind out of Covid, it's a challenging time in the Church world. Vicars all over the country are discovering that there are fewer volunteers. In some cases, church wardens have become almost extinct. People that used to like taking minutes at Church meetings have discovered a whole world of Netflix that is more interesting.

And so vicars are wondering what they can do to fill the gaps. However, this often means doing it themselves. And vicars generally aren't good at IT. Or administration. Or project management. Or buildings maintenance. I've got a team doing some research into what they are good at. We're thinking maybe batik or something.

Anyway. If you're a vicar under pressure, and you just discovered your one remaining church warden died in 2021, and nobody else wants the gig because that would mean going to meetings and talking to builders and they've got so comfy they've not left the house since "Clap for Boris", then many church organisations suggest a methodology called "resilience". Or, as my old bosses used to call it when I worked in the real world, "stop whinging and get on with your job."

But it's becoming apparent that resilience alone isn't enough. Some church groups offer time management courses. But then people are often too busy to go. So what to do?

Well, I've done some research. Or, to be exact, I've been watching old episodes of "Vicar of Dibley", "Last of the Summer Wine" and "Midsomer Murders". And I've identified a lot of time that can be saved which can then be used to do everyone else's jobs more efficiently.

Never answer the door 
Absolutely key, this. You'll never get Sadistics for Mission filled in if you have a constant stream of annoying but vaguely whimsical parishioners appearing. Especially vergers. Never allow the verger in. You may end up as friends. And you really don't need anything as time-occupying as friends. As Our Lord said to Simon, "You are a rock. You are an island." Friends eat time. Avoid them.

Stop rearranging Hymn books
Every time Barnaby or Barnaby goes in a church, the vicar is in there rearranging the hymn books. Don't do it. Total waste of time. The congregation will find them even if they're slightly scruffily arranged. In fact, why not encourage people to just leave them on their seats at the end of services? Let's face it, there's enough of them to lag the walls with let alone have one on every seat. And they won't be in the cleaners' way as nobody's cleaned the place since Doris heard you can catch Covid from cans of Pledge.
Avoid Murdering People
Another Midsomer time-consumer. Don't murder people. You'll spend absolutely ages dealing with the police, making up alibis, and so on. On the bright side, if you're found guilty, you'll have tons of time. Or, for Boris Johnson's benefit, tonnes of time.  

Unnecessary Church Events
From what I can make out, vicars in Yorkshire in particular spend all their time arranging pageants, organising Jubilee celebrations, putting people in suits of armour for no obvious reason, or putting on musical versions of "The Tales of Beatrix Potter". Just stop. It's sucking up your time. And you never sell any tickets anyway. And that goes for your film of the history of the area. Don't do it. You are not a theatrical impresario. You're the one remaining relic of the feudal period left in the village. Act the part. And no, you're not going to get a pop star to open your fete. Unless you're Richard Coles. And that's cheating.
Church / Parish Meetings
Important thing number one. Don't confuse the Parish Council with the Parochial Church Council. Dawn French made that mistake. They are two different things. Important thing number two. Don't hold a PCC meeting every week. Especially not if you have six parishes.
Tell Your Parishioners to Stop Dying
I mean really. Deaths take up so much time. First they're not dead and you have to go into town to see them. And then they die and you have to talk to all the relatives. And then they insist on a cremation and you've got to go miles to do that. And then there's "you will just pop into the Green Horse afterwards" and next thing you know you've spent all day. And that's if they haven't revealed some massive secret on their death bed and you have to dress up as the Easter Bunny. Which leads me on to...

Don't Dress up
Really. You may be a chubby bloke. Don't put on a Santa's outfit. Do not dress up as the Easter Bunny - the rest of the village have all been conned into that one. On Easter Day, refuse all suggestions of a sunrise service on the grounds you're the Easter Bunny. And then refuse all suggestions you should be the Easter Bunny, on the grounds that you've a sunrise service. But when you say that, don't say where. Just wave enigmatically towards your other eight parishes.

Hanging Around in Churchyards
In Midsomer, vicars are always rearranging hymnbooks. But in Summer Wine Country, they're always hanging around in churchyards, or playing with train sets. Bit of advice - if you hang around in churchyards, you'll meet people who'll then expect you to organise a performance of "The Tales of Beatrix Potter" or bury a relative or something. If you play with a train set, I refer you to "Never Answer the Door". Playing with train sets builds resilience.
Shouting "Saints Preserve us" 
OK - this is Postman Pat. But Reverend Timms was always hanging around in the church and churchyard like a Midsomer vicar. And when that palled, he'd go steaming down hills on a bike with no brakes shouting "Saints preserve us!" Don't be like Timms. Stay away from the church on weekdays. And keep off your bike. 

Just follow the examples. You will be truly resilient. You will have time to spare, and have reduced your "vicar stereotype" quotient. And then, if you're lucky, you can be an Archdeacon. And then you really will have to work hard.


  1. Excellent Job Description, only missed out the NS Vicar who is expected to work a 7 day week, who can devote 3 days a week to their real job and 7 days a week to their Parish Admin, leaving no time at all for actual ministry.

  2. If you become an Archdeacon you will spend lots of time at sporting occasions and celebrity functions (see Rev)


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