Knowing what to do
A key question in the Guerrier and Bond research is, ‘what do ministers do?’ The distinction made between a vocation and a profession, or an office holder and an employee gets expressed in a preference for pastoral or preaching tasks rather than management or outward facing roles. MDR offers a way of discerning an answer to this question. Uncertainty about priorities or purposes in ministry show through in the interviews and the lack of clarity about roles and responsibility flows through into a lack of clarity about how MDR might fit in. For example a vocational role might need a spiritual director (EF) or a professional practitioner might need appraisal (CD).
A minister with only a few years of travel is honest enough to say,
I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing as a minister. I know that there are things that I’m supposed to do because they happen, such as leading worship, such as engaging with particular groups in the Church, and supporting pastoral encounters or pastoral care. I know what’s in the ordination service. I suppose that’s how I know (WX).
But that same sense of being driven by outside concerns is also expressed by a much longer serving one . . .
‘I have diary that determines what I do’ (CD)
I look at my diary and what it says I’m supposed to be doing, I do. How do I know what I’m supposed to be doing? It’s taking from a lot of different things. So, you take it and you gradually build it up, so you look at what’s not been happening and what needs to happen (UV).
There is a suspicion that policy makers are aware of this lack of clarity and wonder if Ministers might become more professional in their approach.
I think that those who want to shape the policy of the church and give it some coherence wanted to make that look more professional than some of our ministers aren’t doing their job properly (KL).
There is circularity in comments about work being driven by diaries, or simply by a sense that,
‘I guess I do what I, kind of, think ministers of churches ought to be doing’ (ST).
Within a secular approach to prioritising, there would be some requirement to know what your job description is and what is the overall purpose of your present employment. The interviewees reflected the lack of clarity about both these matters and indeed their complexity.
Some of it is gut instinct, some of it is fire fighting, something comes up and you have to deal with it. (QR).
The mixture of ‘we do what we do’, some reflection with colleagues, and responding to events is a theme that repeats. There is clearly a business behind the ‘how do you know what to do?’ response, even a sense of urgency and stress, but throughout a lack of clarity which spills over into a lack of sureness of how MRD might help. EF’s sense of simply being given a list of more things to do, doesn’t seem to address the more crucial sense of discernment of role or purpose.