Clergy Morale

Anne has posted about the all too palpable sense of low morale amongst the clergy which she notices at General Synod last week. She reports that she is working on a CMD handbook.

I think that it might be worth trying to think about the things which contribute to lower morale. One thing which came out very clearly at synod was a weariness of dealing with building problems that people didn’t ever feel called to sort out and have never really be trained to deal with either.

Here are a few questions that might be worth asking:

  1. Is the (disputed) assertion that stipendiary clergy are office holders rather than proper employees contributing to decline and low morale? Might offering people employment rights make them feel more secure and more valued?
  2. Are the morale issues amongst non-stipendiary clergy the same issues as amongst the stipendiary clergy? (I suspect that they are not).
  3. Does it make any difference to clergy morale when stipend is raised by less than the rate of inflation and particularly when no lay person complains about that?
  4. Why don’t we think it is worth establishing an HR department and learn best practice from other organisations? My doctor recently observed to me that if the churches did this it would probably save thousands of pounds a year and almost certainly save some people from dropping out and leaving their posts prematurely. It seemed to be his view that we were particularly poor at treating one another well at work.
  5. Where does the balance lie in our Canon Law and decision making processes between consensual decision making and visionary leadership? Is there a balanced tension between these two modes of decision making?
  6. Would clergy feel better if more lived in their own homes and had a greater number of choices to make around where they might live in retirement? (Here I speak from personal experience in that I do live in my own home and that makes me feel much more confident about remaining in church work until I retire than I felt when lived in a Rectory).
  7. Given that significant numbers of our clergy are either male, gay, female, straight or some combination of these things, might clergy morale be boosted by refraining from giving any honoured place or priviledge to anyone in the church who works to limit or restrict the ministry of others on grounds that would be seen as discriminatory (and illegal) in any other organisation?