22nd February – Max Drinkwater

Vision and strategy 

Bellringers are no strangers to vision and strategy policies, with the Central Council’s Ringing 2030 being a key talking point for anyone involved in organising ringing at a national or local level. We do not always find it comfortable talking about such policies, but they have become important ways of directing and focusing the efforts of large organisations such as the Central Council.

The Church of England too has a vision and strategy for growth, which informs organisational decisions at a national level. And if bellringers are wary of strategy, the sense of unease at embracing this sort of management tool in the Church is greater still!

I was part of a discussion recently about strategy in the Church of England, with clergy from across the Church (and I wasn’t the only contributor to Thought for the Week there!). There was a military chaplain present, whose work with the RAF saw him return recently from the Middle East. His observation helped me to understand one reason why we are so uncomfortable talking about strategy: its origins are not in business or management, but in the military.

Stratos is the Greek word for an army, and the strategos its leader. And one key piece of information that any army needs to appreciate in order to work effectively is who the enemy is.

If the Church is to have an organisational strategy then, we need to be very clear who our enemy is. It is certainly not those who oppose, challenge or even persecute us – Jesus told us to pray for and bless them. But we are called to fight against those things which distract us from God and his presence in the world. In this season of Lent, we are offered some particularly helpful strategies for dealing with these temptations: prayer, study, discipline, charity.

Before committing to a particular strategy, it is perhaps worth asking the question, what is it that threatens us? Then we can think strategically about how to deal with such a threat,  and form a vision for how we would like to see things instead. If we are honest about the things which threaten and concern us, talking about vision and strategy doesn’t seem so scary after all.

Max Drinkwater