Monday, May 09, 2011

Chauffeur or Mechanic?

I've been thinking about ministry, and what sorts of ministry are possible in different circumstances, and came up with this analogy:

Some parishes are like well-conditioned cars. The fundamentals are in place and working, and what is needed from an incumbent is to keep the parish moving in an established direction, making sure that the passengers are comfortable and looked after ('feed my sheep'). Call this the 'chauffeur'.

Other parishes are like cars that have broken down. They need someone to come in and examine the engine - possibly taking it apart and putting it back together again - in order that the parish can then get back to forward motion - which is, after all, what the car is for. Call this the 'mechanic'.

If a chauffeur is appointed to a parish needing a mechanic, then the incumbent will be criticised for drift and inertia, for letting things slide.

If a mechanic is appointed to a parish needing a chauffeur, then the incumbent will be criticised for reckless meddling and needless controversy.

A bad chauffeur will keep the show on the road at the expense of necessary maintenance, storing up problems for the long run.

A bad mechanic will perpetually tear up the plant by its roots and prevent long-term growth in both numbers and knowledge of God.

Of course, both parishes and incumbents are mixtures, but I think the contrast can do helpful work.

For myself, I think I am temperamentally more of a mechanic than a chauffeur, although I can do both (and the church which seems to be most healthy at the moment is the one where I have hardly had to do any mechanical work at all). I think I've done some good mechanical work here - despite the occasional engine blow-up - and whilst there are definitely some mechanical issues remaining, my sense is that the chauffeur skills are going to be needed more in the future.

(Question - what is the engine in a church? and what are the other essential bits, like the transmission and the exhaust...)

Of course, the Church of England as a whole is - in my ever so humble opinion - a broken down car at the moment, however effective it seemed to be at that wedding the other day...


  1. If you're going to compare the Church of England to a car, it's currently worth about £4.2 billion, that is a pretty flashy motor. The worrying thing is the wheels have come off!

  2. You do know your thing. I sense that you have great passion with cars and being a mechanic is a destiny.

    Ferrari Hire Kent


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