One of the things that the Church of England’s bureaucracy has manage to come up with following the introduction of ‘Common Tenure’ is the so-called ‘rôle description’.
No doubt this seemed like a good idea at the time. No doubt someone thought it would be a way of regularizing or systematizing the perhaps rather-haphazard assumptions that are made about clergy and the work they do.
Unfortunately, they reckoned without the capacity of human beings in general, and people who don’t actually do a job (or perhaps even understand it very well) to screw things up when they get their hands on them.
If you don’t believe me, here is an actual rôle description for a vicar’s post currently being advertised in the Diocese of Chelmsford. Just to save you counting, there are thirty-four paragraphs under the list of specifics. Read them and choke on your coffee.
(i) General Statement of Purpose
All incumbents are Priests in the Church of England whose responsibilities and duties are set out in the Ordinal. Incumbents are additionally licensed by the Bishop to exercise a shared ministry of leadership in a particular context where they will usually be the representative, public face of the church
1. The provision of evangelical, Bible-based worship, administration of the Sacraments, preaching, education, pastoral care, nurture, service, evangelism and leadership that is both Kingdom focussed and a locally relevant response to the Five Marks of Mission in order that:
a. each worshipping congregation is a transforming presence in and for their local community and is connected with the wider church and world, and
b. the vocational gifts and ministries of the whole people of God are discerned, developed and deployed.
2. The collaborative exercise of leadership with the Bishop, other clergy and lay people in the benefice, deanery and diocese to further God’s mission and ministry.
3. The blend of congregational, local community, and wider civic, social and/or church involvement that every licensed clergy person is expected to exercise.
(ii) Specific Statement of Purpose and Key Responsibilities
The following eight sections summarise the main duties and responsibilities of an incumbent of [...]. The balance between what is done personally and what is delegated will vary widely, but in every case the responsibility for ensuring these things are addressed lies with the incumbent (in some cases jointly with the PCC). The exercise of ministry should always be collaborative and make use of the gifts entrusted by God to his people in each particular place. It will be important to have in mind the demography and geography of the parish and its place in the town of Chelmsford so that the appropriate needs of different ages, backgrounds and stages of faith can be addressed
1. Mission, Service and Outreach
develop a ministry that gives expression to each of the Five Marks of Mission
provide opportunities for individuals to discover and learn about the Christian faith
interpret the Gospel afresh for this generation in this context, which may include new forms of church and discipleship, to lead new people of all ages and backgrounds in their walk with Christ
open up the power of the Holy Spirit working in existing Christians to show God’s love in action through evangelism, service, witness and discipleship
make use of opportunities for outreach and service to the community, collaborating where appropriate with other churches, agencies, community organisations, local authorities and institutions
engage with local, national and world mission and development agencies.
2. Leadership and working collaboratively
lead the benefice in discerning, setting and holding its vision within the context of the deanery and diocesan vision and strategy
motivate and empower members of the church, to achieve that vision
build up the community of faith, sharing ministry as appropriate and working collaboratively with others, (including clergy colleagues, churchwardens, PCC, staff and volunteers), so that individuals’ gifts and talents are identified and used effectively
work with other churches in the deanery in implementing the deanery vision and play a full part in the life of the Deanery Chapter and Synod.
partner with ecumenical colleagues and churches whenever appropriate
3. Worship, prayer, preaching and teaching
oversee a pattern of evangelical Bible-based worship and prayer for all ages and stages of faith
oversee a programme of teaching and preaching which supports the Church as a learning community, develops its faith and responds to the needs of different ages and levels of faith
interpret and preach the gospel in ways that encourage faith development, adapting content and style for different audiences, occasions and purposes.
4. Pastoral care
oversee the structures and resources to provide appropriate care to the congregation and community
lead the provision of pastoral care as appropriate, including baptism and marriage preparation, care to the sick dying and bereaved, individual support and visiting
show awareness of own limitations and boundaries; and of other individuals and agencies to whom referrals can be made.
5. Discipleship, Vocation and Stewardship
oversee appropriate preparation for baptism, confirmation, communion and discipleship that encourages life-long growth and development
encourage a culture in which vocational discernment and response is a natural part of the church’s life
enable every Christian to discern their calling from God and to use the gifts, skills and experience that have been entrusted to them in the family, church, workplace and world
ensure that each person receives the appropriate support and training to exercise their ministry in response to God’s calling
lead by example and teaching on the responsibility of stewardship and giving. Encourage the congregation to meet their proper obligations to the benefice and to the wider church. Work with the PCC to develop its current policy of mission giving
6. Parish Organisation and Communication
ensure that structures and resources for parish organisation are appropriate, including clear boundaries and accountabilities of roles
ensure that structures, processes and policies in relation to services, weddings, baptisms and funerals, health and safety, child protection, finance, fabric, staff employment and management, etc. to meet diocesan and legal requirements
communicate effectively and appropriately in both written and verbal form with people of all ages and situations in society, inside and outside the church
undertake personal administration, planning and organisation in a collaborative and open manner with appropriate delegation. Ensure meetings are planned and chaired effectively.
7. Personal development and spirituality
be a person of prayer with a clear reliance on God and an obvious and outward-looking faith
model an appropriate pattern of work that enables a rounded spiritual and personal life while meeting the proper demands of ministry.
Continue to develop personal skills and knowledge in relation to ministry through appropriate use of CMD grants and relevant reading, study, consultancy, training courses and workshops
maintain a worshipping and prayerful spiritual life with appropriate support structures (including spiritual direction, networks of support and regular retreats)
make full use of time off to care for self, household and personal relationships, including adequate time for family life, friendship, recreation, renewal and personal health
8. Wider Ministry
serve beyond the parish at local, deanery, diocesan and national level by offering time, wisdom and skills to serve the wider church’s ministry and mission.
play an appropriate part in the civic and community life of the locality (e.g. governance of local schools and/or charities)
learn from the traditions and diversity of the wider national and world church.