By the way, the time log for the previous blog went something like this:
- Clergy: 2No @ 55 hrs p/w (110)
- Clergy: 2No @ 30 hrs p/w (60)
- Wardens: 2No @ 20 hrs/p/w (40)
- Office Staff: 3No @ 50 hrs/p/w (avg) (150)
- Treasurers: 2No @ 3 hrs/p/w (6)
- Lay Ministers: 4No sermons and services at w/e: 4No @ 7 hrs p/w (28)
- PCC: 6 No Mtgs/12 people pro rata hrs/p/w 4.5 (4.5)
- Leadership Team: 6No Mtgs/10 people pro rata hrs/p/w 3 (3)
- Leadership Sub Groups: 6No groups/8 people/6 mtgs pro rata hrs/p/w 8.5 (8.5)
- Social Secretary: 2 evenings a week/2hrs p/eve (4)
- Organist: 1No 6hrs
- Small Choir: 6No @4hrs/p/w (24)
- Large Choir: 45No @ 2hrs/p/w (90)
- Band: 7No @ 6xp/yr+rehearse pro rata hrs (4)
- Sidespersons: 4No @ 3hrs/p/w (12)
- Coffee Rota: 4No @ 2 hrs/p.w (8)
- Old Peoples Lunch: 4No 2hrs/p/w (8)
- Youth Team: 2No @ 3.5hrs/p/w (7)
525 hours administration, management and preparation per week.
For how much worship?
- Old Peoples Lunch: 25No 2hrs/p/w (50)
- Sunday 8.00 HC: 5 No @ 1 hrs/p/w (5)
- Sunday 11.00: 70No @ 2 hrs/p/w (140)
- Sunday 18.00: 16No @1.25 hrs/p/w (20)
- Monday 19.30 Hs Gp: 12 @ 2hrs/p/w (24)
- Monday 19.30 Recorder Group: 8No @ 1.5 hrs/p/w (12)
- Wednesday 10.00 HC: 12 @ 0.75hrs (9)
- Wednesday 19.30 training: 8No @ 2 hrs/p/w (16)
- Friday 19.00 Youth Gp: 12No@ 2hrs/p/w (24)
300 hours of public events per week
St Jude’s used to be a big church. Several hundred adults used to meet every week and several hundred children came to Sunday School in the afternoons. More recently it had fallen on hard times (somewhat of its own making) and as people had aged without new people being introduced the congregation was, to put it inelegantly, dying off.
There was no doubt about it, St Jude’s was still a busy church. There was lots to do, and although only around 70 people came regularly to the morning service there were probably around 90 people who met across the parish for various activities throughout the week. This included children.
The problem at St Jude’s was that like a frog in a saucepan of water on the ring of a gas stove, it hadn’t noticed that it’s days were numbered. The only area that hadn’t declined was their organisational structure. They still had all the structures in place to run a church of at least four times the size, and each post was filled, praise God, which meant that each person involved was very busy, very tense, very combative or very put upon depending on their personality, and very tired. They had some sense that things were not right at St Jude’s (who was of course the Patron Saint of Lost Causes) but they did what had to be done to keep the show on the road.
When each person’s contribution was added up it came to 525 person-hours of administration, management and preparation each week (the time it takes to make 21 cars). This time was spent to support 300 person-hours of shared public worship and activity by 90 adults and children. This incredibly inefficient ratio of time invested in management to time expended in worship (525/300=1.75) represents the church on a knife edge. It means that on average every person (including every child) is investing an average 1 hour 45 minutes for every 1 hour of public worship experienced.
Once the time spent/time gained ratio goes above 1.00 the alarm bells should ring.
We arrived at our holiday apartment in London, looked around (delighted) brought in the luggage (vast) and settled down on lovely sofas with a glass of wine (exhausted). Then The Clever One started to tell me a story she had heard on the radio the day before.
A woman was staying in an attic room in an old house. Every day from her attic she saw her husband go off to work in the morning and come home in the evening. At first all was well, but soon she started to notice that there was a line developing around the walls where the wallpaper had been scratched away, just above the skirting at first, but getting higher and higher each day. The woman was completely trapped in this attic room, literally locked in, and frightened because more of the wallpaper was disappearing each day until the whole wall was bare at least as high as she could reach. It was a sinister story, a ghost story perhaps.
Throughout the story I had shown a mild interest – all I could muster after a long day – but I thought I did pretty well. Soon afterwards I fished around in various bags to bring out one of the huge number of books I had brought with me. I had chosen a book of sermons by Archbishop Carnelly, one time Archbishop of Australia, called ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’. When The Clever One walked into the room and saw the book she exclaimed “that’s it! That’s the story I heard on the radio yesterday. It was called ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’”. We checked it out more closely and yes, the sermon of that title after which the book had been named was based on the same story heard on the radio.
It turns out that the woman was in the attic for her own good because her doctor husband thought it would be good for her after getting pregnant to be isolated, to ‘rest up’. She hated it, and gradually fell into increasing insanity, which expressed itself by her gradually stripping the yellow wallpaper off the wall. In her mind the wallpaper held the demons she was trying to exorcise. She locked herself in the room and threw the key out of the window so no-one could get in. By the time the husband came to his senses and broke into the room (clever but not bright, it turns out) she had stripped all the wallpaper off all the walls as high as she could reach. In the words of Archbishop Carnelly, a chilling story of insanity.
Unsurprisingly this was the sermon I read that night. Also unsurprisingly I paid attention. That’s what serendipity is for. When we notice it.
At a recent visit to Knole House in Kent one of the volunteers made a mistake. The main staircase has a painted tableaux of the Virtues. In one of them a king is seen ruling over subjects. The volunteer ran through the five virtues displayed and when she arrived at this one she described it as the virtue of ‘Monarchy’.
When The Clever One with me queried whether that was right (‘is there really a virtue called ‘Monarchy?’) the volunteer’s plucky trainee said of course, it was in the interest of the monarchs who owned the house to show ‘Monarchy’ as a virtue. (It should be said that the monarch only owned the house after Archbishop Cranmer had been forced to make it a gift to Henry VIII – a example of the virtue of Monarchy at work, no doubt.
As we walked on to the gallery of royalty and archbishops I questioned it too. The Clever One muttered under her breath that the virtue was actually ‘Submission’. That made much more sense. How often to we invert the virtues and give ourselves a pat on the back, I wondered.