What is a priest?

Over the years I have heard a number of priests complaining about the increasing amount of management coming into the role of incumbent.  Until now I have thought it only sensible that the good bits of modern organisational management theory should be used by the church.  However…

Recently the Church of England has adopted new safeguarding procedures, and we have recently been made aware of the GDPR that are coming into force in May 2018.  Both of these have added significantly to the administrative overhead of running a parish (and that is before the impact of implementing them is considered).  If you are in a parish with several retired managers then this may be dealt with by them, although there is a level of knowledge required that the incumbent probably has in their head that anyone else will spend time finding out.  But if you are in a parish without those kind of people the burden falls on the incumbent – and in some of those parishes the incumbent is already doing more administration than in others, perhaps no administrator, and I have heard of some with no treasurer.

This is not a plea for the church to be exempt from either of these – there is good reason why they are needed.  However, it is a plea for the national church or dioceses to look at ways to reduce the burden of them on parishes.  I will admit that this is a hobby horse of mine, but in the era of the internet providing systems centrally for use across the country is not rocket science, and could just help!

And for those parishes who do have people who can do these things – wouldn’t their time be better spent on ministry rather than administration?

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