490

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About jonbirch

animator, illustrator, character designer, graphic designer. music producer/recording musician. co-owner of PROOST. proost.co.uk
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43 Responses to 490

  1. john q says:

    broken in or broken down? hmmmm.

  2. Helen says:

    sad but true, our lovely new vicar was taken aside by several of the congregation in order for them to tell him how the parish SHOULD be run, despite his wealth of experience.

  3. soniamain says:

    I think that is the same in many new jobs of a leadership position. The head of the school i have links with was told by many different people what needed to happen and what went wrong with previous heads!

  4. dennis says:

    At least they gave him a saddle!

  5. TyTe says:

    The pressure and expectation on new church leaders can be immense. I know of more than one who have suffered terribly in their first years in a new post – depression, illness, stress.

    But rather than pinning it all down on the congregation, I wonder how much this is the fault of the previous leader(s)? For example, if the church was set up, gathered around, controlled by, the previous leader, then the new leader is walking into a whole world of trouble.

    One church leader told me that his job was to do himself out of a job! I’m not sure I entirely agree with the statement, but it certainly resonated with me.

    I wonder what we, as leaders, can do to lead, build, grow, pastor, and teach churches that do not become dependent on us – or worse, co-dependent?

  6. TyTe says:

    (btw: I have actually heard parishoners saying of a new male vicar, “Don’t worry, we’ll soon break him in”. I chortled, thinking they were joking, only to discover that they were dead serious!)

    Perhaps, right now, if you know of a new church leader in your area, you could pray for her or him?

  7. Robb says:

    sad but true, our lovely new vicar was taken aside by several of the congregation in order for them to tell him how the parish SHOULD be run, despite his wealth of experience.

    Are you in my parish?

    Perhaps, right now, if you know of a new church leader in your area, you could pray for her or him?

    Good plan.

    The four complainers will make much more noise that the 80 ‘very happy to be doing something’ and quite ‘excited to be moving forward’ people.

  8. sarah says:

    Poor bastard.

  9. clare says:

    TyTe (6) – I’ve got to be careful how I phrase this, as I don’t want to offend you or any of our other clergy friends… but… don’t you think that the whole idea of becoming ordained attracts a certain type of personality, who is often charismatic (with a small c), likes to lead people, be directive, gather people around them etc? Therefore we end up with communities which are used to being ‘governed’ in this style?

  10. zefi says:

    leader: someone we create to live the standard we could not. or would not.

  11. anon says:

    interesting comment (10) – as a leader who; doesn’t particularly enjoy leading people because it does not come naturally to me and oh all the hassle it brings, doesn’t enjoy being directive because its not about ruling though it is sometimes tempting – i find it quite liberating to encourage others to step up and use their gifts even when that sometimes means encouraging people to do something that is often expected of the ‘leader’ – problem is of course that people then say ‘hey what we paying her/him for?’

    And if more congregations were to sit and think through why they call ‘ordained leaders’ there might be a better understanding of what ordained ministry is about – someone who is called by God to be set apart in order to help build up the body of believers in their faith OR do they want a paid monkey who they then blame when things don’t go the way that they think they should?

  12. Robb says:

    Clare, I don’t. I think that becoming ordained attracts the sort of person who is prepared to give up everything they have and everything the could have to work for God. They are the sort of person who is prepared to have their telephone ring at 4 in the morning when they are on holiday and have been off the plane for 2 hours because someone wants to shout at them for not being there for the last week. They are people who are prepared to go and sit with a 93 year old woman and be the only person there to comfort her when she is dying. They are the person who is prepared to be abused because the choir can’t sing/won’t practice my favourite song in a manner that is acceptble. They are the person who is there when the homeless drop on their doorstep drunk and ask for food for the kids. It is their children that they are prepared to have opening the door sometimes in this situation. They are the people who put themselves into very vulnerable positions for little thanks or reward. They are the people who put themselves in this situation so that we can complain about them.

    For the majority, we make all sorts of judgements based upon the 1.5hrs a week when we meet them. Most of that is based upon what happens during Sunday morning worship.

  13. jonbirch says:

    i agree with clare and robb. many ministers are what robb says but we are people of mixed motives and need. the two types of person you both describe are very often the same person in my experience. clare and i have many minister friends… excellent people… and i see this trait in many of them… it is not a criticism, it is a fact. thank god for people who gather others around them, who enjoy motivating etc. etc… but there is a flipside… and the flipside is the way the church community operates as a result. again this is both good and bad. the institution of the church is centuries of old habits both good and bad.
    also, what anon says is relevant. there are those, like him/herself, who operate differently to the norm through personality or conviction… that is always hard too.

  14. jonbirch says:

    very often (not always), again having experienced many different churches. the person who leads loves to expound, loves to impart knowledge, loves to share and care (already we can see the perfect candidate for burnout), loves vision, loves mission, loves praying for people. then, when no one else is playing ball the way they understand it, they get tired, disillusioned, ill, break down… and it is all very sad. but it is also inevitable. they themselves bring this on in horrible collusion with their congregation who notice nothing until all is too late. it normally (again not always) takes two to make an unhappy marriage… it always takes two to make a happy marriage. i wonder whether a good marriage model for the way communities operate would be a much healthier than the hierarchical model (subtle or otherwise) that is in place now. this change could only come about from those in charge allowing it to… it would take bravery and humility… but perhaps would lead to the church working for all, not just the few, or at worst no one.
    just some thoughts.

  15. Robb says:

    But the critique can be made of nearly anyone in any job where you work with people. My boss? a guy who ” certain type of personality, who is often charismatic (with a small c), likes to lead people, be directive, gather people around them etc? Therefore we end up with communities which are used to being ‘governed’ in this style?”. We call is a school. Same when I worked in callcentre. Same when I worked in a pub. Same could be said of me in the classroom.

    I wonder how many clergy I know because I ould hate to mke a generalisation about everyone who is in church leadership. I would say that of the ones I know 80% are ridees rather than riders. There are some clergy who are controlling etc… but they in my experience of our diocese are not the majority.

    I think I should quit my job and become a Shell tanker driver. My wages will soar and my interpersonal skills will not be controlling of the people I work with. Or should that be ‘work at’?

  16. jonbirch says:

    you’re right robb. and that it one of the reasons schools, nhs, churches, and any other institution you care to mention are pretty raggedy when it comes to working for all. the church though should be different to these… hmmmmmm.
    i’m really good at making decisions not to make money! doh! :-)

  17. TyTe says:

    In my experience, a wide variety of people are called to ordained ministry – and on the whole, they are quality people – humble, hardworking, selfless, etc. I even (if this is allowed) feel proud to be of their number. Sadly, of course, a few egos fall through the net, but thankfully these are few and far between.

    However, the danger is – for all of us who have been ordanified and priestificated (Bushism) – that the church becomes centred around our ministry, such that if you took us out of the equation, the church would flounder. I don’t think you have to be a certain personality type for this to happen.

    For example, if the ordained minister is the only one who visits all the old widows in the parish, and this becomes the expectation, then when the old minister leaves, no-one gets visited and when the new minister arrives, she or he is expected to visit all the old ladies!

  18. jonbirch says:

    quite, tyte. :-)

  19. subo says:

    “They are the sort of person who is prepared – their telephone ring at 4 in the morning when they are on holiday

    - because someone wants to shout at them for not being there for the last week.

    - go and sit with a 93 year old woman and be the only person there to comfort her when she is dying.

    - prepared to be abused because the choir can’t sing/won’t practice my favourite song in a manner that is acceptble.

    - They are the person who is there when the homeless drop on their doorstep drunk and ask for food for the kids.

    - They are the people who put themselves into very vulnerable positions for little thanks or reward.”

    this could be describing a wide range of jobs, and yes there are very challenging aspects to many jobs, the key thing is though – how effective is the job title at achieving the best service?

    i’ve occasionally met a vicar, who it took me an age to find out their ordained – only very occasionally.

  20. Robb says:

    But then we complain that the church has no presence.

    Perhaps that says a lot about what you ask the people you meet. It is very rare that people manage to make it 10-20 seconds without asking me what I do. To be honest I relish it as it gives me a break from the same old boring indignant quesitons about piercings followed by boring indignant objections to the fact that I get paid. Or boring objections and criticisms of some other teacher who told ‘little timmy’ off for setting fire to B Block in a school I have never heard of. Essentially they level all of their criticism about someone they have 5 minutes of experience with at me – someone who has no idea who they are talking about but becomes the focus of their half heard urban legends.

  21. Robb says:

    To be honest I relish it”…. when they don’task me what I do for a living…”as it gives me a break….

  22. janetp says:

    Jon, Clare, Robb, TyTe, Anon: yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes. Very thought-provoking and in-depth analysis of the dynamic between ordained priests and their lay congregations, and parallels in the ‘outside’ world.

    Not for the first time over the past few weeks, I find myself appreciating even more how lucky I am to belong to a church community (family – and I don’t use the term lightly) which so closely models all that ASBO holds up as being the ‘ideal’ church (ie most Christ-like). Is my church perfect? No. Is my minister perfect? No. Is the congregation (including me) perfect? No.

    But ….

    Do I see a worshipping community in which people are given space to belong on their own terms, and in which the community is willing to grapple with the issues raised by people who are, perhaps, outside it’s ‘comfort zone’? Do I see a minister who, while being highly knowledgeable both in Scripture and in ‘outside’ affairs, is humble enough and community-minded enough actively to welcome and encourage participation by anyone and everyone in whatever way? Do I see a congregation that is, overall, willing to look for solutions and compromise for the sake of the wider group, and that values both ordained minister and non-ordained lay people?

    Yes, Yes, YES!

    It can be tough, and we don’t always get it right, but we’re one lucky bunch of people, and living proof that it IS possible to be(come) church in the best sense.

    I hope this gives those of you struggling with your church communities some hope. :0)

  23. jonbirch says:

    thanks janetp! :-) top that for positive if you can people! :-)

  24. Robb says:

    I find that if I touch the positive and the negative at the same time I end up riding the lightning :lol:

  25. JF says:

    Right let’s all go to janetp’s church on Sunday. (Where is it?)

  26. TyTe says:

    Yeh – me toooooo! lol. Thanks Janet.

  27. subo says:

    sorry folks, just want to apologize for vicar bashing, i guess i’ve let a few hurtful situations cloud my judgment.

  28. Carole says:

    I thinked it is all something to do with the flawedness of people – including pastors. I also think we can lash out when we are hurting – I like to think of it as the inner child. I once heard of an elderly chap complaining about never having a visit from the priest. The old codger never darkened the door of the church and yet expected the priest to know by some telepathical powers that he wanted a visit! I suppose that was really a failing on the part of the congregation for not passing on info. But it was also a symptom of the old fella feeling a bit needy.
    I find I want to follow people with a bit of charisma – but they can be tempted to abuse the gift of their personality. And the bossy parishioner is, in my experience, often the neediest of the lot, living a rather sad and empty life but wanting to feel self-important.
    I am rather a selfish creature. I am sticking feebly to my church after a change of priest last year. The former incumbent has been moved just down the road. Our family service is decimated as there has been a mass exodus, the younger families following the former priest. From my selfish viewpoint, the new guy bores me senseless and is surreptitiously transforming our lovely, friendly, modern church into something more like pre Vatican 2. I was chatting to a friend on Sunday and we were wondering how much longer we can avoid becoming rats deserting a sinking ship. But there is something about the people which is, for the time, keeping us there…

  29. Robb says:

    I suppose that was really a failing on the part of the congregation for not passing on info

    The telepathic congregation!

    I feel sorry for your situation Carole. You see it quite often when the Priest moves somewhere too close. I guess this is one of the problems of the attitude that ‘The Church’ is universal rather than local. People are not as committed to their community. I see this with a lot of my colleagues. The most ironic statement was a racist one… in a universal manner.

    We had a similar problem about a decade ago when the Priest retired into the parish next door and spent the next five years stopping anyone from doing anything because he was nolonger in charge so it wasn’t ‘his’ vision.

    Do’h.

    Did I just grab the negative as well as the positive? Vzzzzzzzzzzzzt.

  30. janetp says:

    JF (26): It’s in Cheltenham, and I’m sure you’d be made very welcome.

    Robb: Yet again, you made me laugh – “riding the lightening”! :0)

  31. Carole says:

    You know what I meant, cheeky Robb. Members of the congregation encountered this chap in their daily business and could have said something but didn’t.

    Yeah, the former priest is in the parish next door. I can’t for the life of me understand what the Bish was playing at! The priest does have what I would describe as a charismatic personality and does tend to draw people from surrounding churches. He alsospends a lot of time at the primary school and so attracts the young families (incidentally, he does have a bit of an ego, bless him – spends a month in the States every year and gets a buzz out of preaching to a 2000 strong congregation! about 10 times the size of his average UK mass). I was chatting to one of my cleaning rota team-mates, a guy in his 60s who has admitted to going to the other church for weekday mass. In fact loads of people are having a secret fling with the other church and still turning up to us on Sunday. Quite funny really! The 9:15ers (more traditional) like the new guy – no change in numbers there. But the 10:30ites are leaving in droves.

  32. AnneDroid says:

    Difficult situation for you Carole. I feel for you all. Btw we too have a traditional service (9.30) and a modern one (11) – in an effort to please all of the people all of the time!

  33. binopadre says:

    just found the site and enjoying the comments as much as the cartoons (I hope I’m right in calling it cartoon!?)

    I’m all of the above+ when it comes to a pastor – second church and 8 months down the line. Adopted a leadership team who have over the years been released to to do what they wanted to do; and at times never being held accountable especially in their private lives because they are genuinely nice people and no-one wanted to be rude. This, along with the expected trauma of a new young (mid 30′s) pastor; who is too good (?) at being vulnerable (probably a reaction to my former senior pastor who was a closed book), and 3 new younger leaders (late 40′s) being called on to the team have meant that our leadership meetings have been tense, long, and dreaded every 3 Monday of the month.
    The church is a great mixture of those who are still checking me out, those who are desperate for change in the life of the church and see the new pastor as their last chance at this before they become set in their ways, and a bunch of new ‘incomers’ who in the past 6 months have arrived in the area not knowing why but believing it is of God.
    Undoubtedly people are trying to train me, others are trying to release me, while I’m trying my best not to take people for a ride.

  34. jonbirch says:

    sounds like quite a ride binopadre! :-) :-( please choose the emoticon of your choice. all the very best in your post… and yes, it’s fine to call them cartoons! :-)

  35. TyTe says:

    I was a curate for three years in the CofE, and I can’t say that at the end I was dying to become a vicar. The thought still scares me rigid (although I have nothing but admiration for my fellow vix and vixens)! TBH: I’m not sure I’m mature enough to handle the job… (and no quips required from you lot after walking into that one)

    BUT…

    I’m thrilled to be working as part of a team with a vicar who I love and get on with. The rest of the team are becoming like family too and I love them to bits. I’ve also started to make some great friends locally. Oh pants, I’m going all Charles Ingalls… Pass the tissues…

    He he he – a couple our team are also ASBO fans so big smoochies to you ;)!!

    ((are we allowed to do shoutoutz on ASBO?))

  36. TyTe says:

    binopadre – I loved your last line!

  37. Clare says:

    in case anyone is in any doubt, I’d just like to add to my previous post that I have great admiration for anyone prepared to take on the challenge of ordination, regardless of how they score on myers-briggs! it’s certainly not a job for the faint hearted. dealing with other people’s expectations is always hard but doubly so as soon as you put on a dog collar. hurrah for all those prepared to give it a shot, I say.

  38. AnneDroid says:

    Clare, if you’d like to conduct a wee survey that would be very interesting! I’m ENFP.

  39. Robb says:

    I willcounteract your ENFP with an ENTP :P

  40. AnneDroid says:

    Three quarters the same – I knew I liked you, Robb.

  41. becky says:

    Robb – my late father was a supply priest/college professor who died penniless from alcoholism so I know all too well the perils of the ministry.

    One of the major problems we have here in the US Episcopal church is the clergy compensation package – when I was in divinity school, I heard WAY too much information about what kind of perks one could get as an Episcopal priest if they played their cards right and not nearly enough talk about what kind of ministry they felt called to do as a servant of God. There’s something really, really wrong here in the US when we have priests here in the poor and working class settings who can barely feed their family and then priests living in Country club settings where they live a very opulent lifestyle that would be fitting for a head of a major corporation.

  42. Will says:

    cool just how i pictured it would be.

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