Friday, January 11, 2008


I had a guest for breakfast yesterday and then went out for lunch and supper. Eating with people is excellent pastorally but also a good use of time because everyone gotta eat. Many of the families I work with have busy weekday schedules so I can't visit until they have got back from work, taken the kids to whatever club or class it is this week and then they want to sit down and eat so I just crash the meal. It is amazing how my use of time has altered since my own children turned into blokes.

So yesterday I had breakfast with someone I meet monthly for a bit of non-managerial supervision and mentoring. I had lunch with a couple of retired couples from the church. I had supper with a couple after they had finished their busy day and put the children to bed.

It was a nice day and a chance to have a lot of proactive rather than reactive conversations so felt like progress. I ended it with two new deputy wardens (the posh name we give to sidespeople round here, don't know why) and some timetabled help with all-age services over the coming year.

As I was about to leave I was asked this question, 'What is your SWOT analysis of the church?' The person I was speaking to does SWOT analyses of things such as farming, the city of Bristol (under-achieving apparently) and flood defences so is used to fairly high-power responses.

I won't trouble you with my answer. It would probably be different this morning anyway and you can do the exercise yourself as long as you know that SWOT stands for:


Interesting thing is that I couldn't think of any particular threats. We have strengths, weaknesses and many opportunities but no things or people who are our enemies. Isn't that a good position to be in?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ah business analysts and their acronyms!

I hope you replied "SWOT analysis? Fie yes sir, I am really looking forward to undertaking the TOWS matrix after my SWOT analysis to see what tactical options I can undertake; though for longer term vision I am struggling with which model to use to identify our options - Porter's Five Forces, Ansoff's Matrix, Boston Consulting Group's Growth-Share Matrix or the Treacy Wiersema Value Disciplines. What do you recommend as I feel it would be essential for the population of our ten-year strategic plan?"

That'll flaw him.

In answer to your threats scenario I can think of the following:

1) Growth of other religions (and this doesn't just include Islam, Hindu, Catholicism etc but also the potential growth of elements within the CofE - anglo-catholicism, extreme evangelism, high church etc.)- ie what would be the effect of a trendy new 'vineyard' church in Clifton / South Bristol be on your congregation?

2) Infrastucture of existing facilities being damaged (ie flooded church)

3) loss of key resource (ie do you know who your key personnel/volunteers are and the effects of what would happen if they left)

4) Increased apathy on behalf of parish residents (ie falling numbers)

5) Ageing or transient demographic - ie lots of students who stay for two years and then go or parishioners mostly in retirement - what if the local community was a mining village and the pit was about to be closed.

6) A minority exerting too much influence within the church family - there's always at least one, sometimes it could be the vicar themselves!

7) An issue that could split the church congregation. (ie very popular member of the congregation being given the cold shoulder for their recently disclosed sexuality, resulting in disagreements or what about a highly popular member of the congregation suddenly found to be "fiddling" charity funds, thereby upsetting the harmony of the family)

Threats are best described as things that have yet to go wrong or may cause an element of pain to the organisation.