How HR is strangling the Church of England - Giles Fraser writing in UnHerd
Financial pressure stimulates panicky missionary initiatives with inviting sounding names
Giles fears that what is dangerous to the overall mission and credibility of the church is the fearful reaction that often accompanies reductions of clergy and closures. Financial pressure, he states, stimulates panicky missionary initiatives with inviting sounding names dreamt up in the religious PR department. Bishop Cedd managed with the Bible, faith in the living God and a good pair of shoes.
Giles describes how during the Covid period busy evangelical executives counted their increasing Zoom followers, while the buildings of the church were abandoned by the very people whose job it was to keep them open. Instead, the internet became the latest fresh expression of church, and — just whisper it he suggests — a potential way of restructuring a Church with less clergy around to run it.
Some may believe, he says, that this “professionalisation” is a good thing — but he finds it extraordinary that the Church has been transformed by it with very little reflection as to its virtues. And there are some of us he suggests who think it is proving to be a disaster, with the Church of England now going the way of the University, gradually being strangled by risk assessments, impact reports, and HR departments warning against “reputational risk”.
The Church, Giles insists, is not a business. It does not need to be a model of efficiency. Indeed, it should look completely different to the secular organisations that demand our day-to-day allegiance.