Looking forward to an away day today with Bucks team colleagues - the bishop, parish development adviser, vocations adviser, chaplain and schools adviser. A chance to chew the cud, and talk about the state of the archdeaconry. We have been a team for around 5 years now so know how we each work and what gets us up in the morning. There are common threads and then the different day to day things we are dealing with.
It is difficult to have a vision for Buckinghamshire, being part of a large diocese with its own vision and aims, however what we try and do is allow the local to flourish in an integrated way - to see the church and church school as prime sources of local vision and mission, and allow God's love, creativity and power to permeate individuals that come into contact with either. To give our clergy the space to thrive and the resources and encouragement they need to do that; to give opportunity for vocations that have begun to germinate to be tested and nurtured, and to provide resources and a response when things get sticky or hard or toxic.
It may all be hands off, rather than hands on, but the challenge in a sense is tougher. We, as leaders, need to be equipped for the emergency, the question, the difficult situation when it happens and confident enough that all those involved in parish life within our 300 churches have the right tools at their disposal and know that they are not alone, but completely backed up at the centre. We need to know where things are at, without being interfering and to offer the right resource at the right time. An attempt at servant ministry perhaps.
I do not pretend to know personally every church warden, but after 6 years I know pretty well the clergy, and those church wardens who are long serving, and it is always a challenge for me to divide up my time between them all, and the work of the diocese, so that trust and confidence between us can flourish. Parish ministry is the heart beat of our national church and, having been there myself, deserves most of a bishop or archdeacon's care and attention (plus encouragement and support).
At a time when our local clergy are rushed off their feet with carol services and our churches the focus of Christmas mission, it seems appropriate to be meeting to think about how we can further support them. It may not be radical but by setting time aside to ask how we can continued to be faithful to those we serve seems like a good idea.
What if... in some way we served those who serve today?