Rules for Reverends: The Next Generation

December 15, 2011 § 2 Comments

Somebody stop me…

101. On paper Carol services look like they are going to be really long, but are shorter than you think.

102. Work out how you respond best to conflict, because there will be some. The Body of Christ is made up of human beings, after all. And the Holy Spirit doesn’t help. Look at Corinth.

103. No, the compilers of the Lectionary didn’t know what they were doing.

104. If you buy a thick cassock because all churches are cold, you will only ever work in warm ones.

105. There is no such thing as a quiet toy.

106. Never overestimate the power of a lone bagpiper to evoke a sense of lament.

107. If your worship group has a drummer, pray that they are the most musical person in the building.

108. People who have worshipped in the same church for decades have rarely looked around it properly. Preach about the windows or a carving. They will be amazed.

109. Church bells must be divine. Humans ring them. God knows why.

110. Don’t mess with the Flower Arrangers.


Rules for Reverends X

December 14, 2011 § 1 Comment

We’ve made it to 100. Should there be more?

91. It’s only when you’re in the pulpit and coughing that you realise you’re not sure whether the jug and glass have been there for five years without being changed.

92. Gardening is only therapeutic when your parishioners can’t see you doing it. When they do they think you’re taking too much time off.

93. Answering machines are superb, but you do need to listen to them.

94. If you need a decent policy for something, ask your friendly Methodists. They’ve got loads of good ones.

95. No surprise is more pleasant than a letter from the Bishop by return.

96. Never underestimate the power of a nun to get conversations going. Especially on public transport.

97. Fill in attendance numbers carefully, and review them year by year. Some trends take time to make themselves felt.

98. Never handle any cash. If you have to, get a witness.

99. People are very coy and very careful about their giving. Be coy and careful back, but make sure they know they are appreciated.

100. Working harder at this job won’t get you any more money. Unless you become a Bishop, a Dean or an Archdeacon. And who wants to be one of them?

Rules for Reverends IX

December 13, 2011 § 2 Comments

Can’t stop now…

81. There is probably a very good reason for Deanery Synods.

82. There will be one key which unlocks the drawer which has all the other keys to the building and safes in it. This key will be in plain sight somewhere.

83. There is nothing clergy like better than following other clergy in a procession. That the one at the front knows where they are going is taken a matter of faith by those behind, and is a proof of the existence of God.

84. Most people’s worst nightmare is a Vicar with a guitar. This situation is helpfully relieved by saying ‘I know. I am your worst nightmare. A Vicar with a guitar’. When tuning up, give them a bit of All right now (Free) or Thunderstruck (AC/DC). It works for me.

85. There is nothing so very wrong with wedding photographers. When there is, do give them some feedback.

86. Take great care over finances, and learn to read a balance sheet. The level of giving as a barometer of the spiritual life of the congregation.

87. Being on the committee of another organisation is a good way of realising that perhaps the PCC isn’t so bad after all. Or recognising that, actually, it is.

88. The law of buffets is that the optimum arrangement of food and plates has not yet been discovered, and that all the other ones are achingly slow.

89. Loud shoes in stone floored churches are much to be encouraged.

90. The contents of the flower cupboard are a mystery, one not to be explored without prayer and fasting.

Rules for Reverends VIII

December 12, 2011 § 1 Comment

Where does this stuff come from?

71. Under no circumstances agree to judge a fancy dress competition where there is any possibility of you meeting any contestant, or any member of their family, during their lifetime.

72. If your church has lots of needy people, it’s probably because it’s doing the right thing. But that doesn’t make it easier to handle.

73. Choristers have to work very hard to make sure they have the right stuff to sing at the right time. They might not, therefore, take in what else is happening in your brilliantly crafted act of worship. Give them some input another way.

74. Some people will never ever be satisfied. Find out who they are, and spend as little time as possible trying to sort things out for them.

75. The preferred communication style of most churches is osmosis and telepathy.

76. Decide which practical things in your church you will know nothing about. This could be how the clock is wound, or the way the boiler works. You do not have to do everything, only the stuff you have to do. Discovering what this is will be your life’s work.

77. Look carefully at the retired clergy around you. Find a happy one, and ask them how they did it. Start planning to do the same. You could be retired a long time.

78. What they don’t teach you at theological college is how to hold a plate and a glass of wine and a fork at the same time. They should.

79. You may not be designed for small talk. Watch a master, and steal three phrases which will help. Asking people about themselves is a good starter.

80. There might be loads of clergy at the cathedral, but they do work hard. It’s just different to what you do.

Rules for Reverends VII

December 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

On a roll…

61. The length of a PCC discussion about money will be in inverse proportion to the amount discussed.

62. No, the Diocese does not know what it is doing.

63. If you want something to thrive, threaten to abolish it.

64. Some organisations do die. Give them an honourable and joyful funeral.

65. It is impossible to overestimate the impact on your ministry of using clear consonants and not dropping your voice at the end of a sentence.

66. Just because the microphone is there doesn’t mean everyone will automatically hear you.

67. The notice sheet exists so that people can happily ignore its contents.

68. If you can’t be omniscient you can give the impression of being omnipresent. And you don’t have to stay to the end.

69. If the whole team is last minute you’ll get on well with each other and your church will learn what faith is all about.

70.Yes, it’s frustrating not to be able to join in at Choral Evensong. Just let go, and let the office pray you.

Rules for Reverends VI

December 8, 2011 § 3 Comments

Getting going now…do let me know if these chime or if I’m just going mad.

51. Some people have very noisy coats

52. The tiptoeing thing people do when they are late into church doesn’t work.

53. When you go to see the Bishop about your future, bear in mind that he might have said his prayers that morning. But then again, he might just have a gap to fill.

54. You drink more Communion wine than anyone else. You owe it to yourself to make it decent.

55. The Press has a memory shorter than a goldfish, and works on whims and timescales more rapid than a toddler in a toyshop. You will not change this.

56. No church hall booking system ever works.

57. Common Worship was written so that people previously at enmity with each other could have something to moan about together.

58. No one is ever happy about car parking arrangements.

59. Account very carefully for special collections, and write within nano seconds to the donor and recipient.

60. People who light a candle when they say a prayer are not being superstitious. The Holy Spirit is helping them with sighs too deep for words.

Rules for Reverends Vol III

December 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

21. Every Vicar’s surplice has a darker patch where it’s been slammed into a funeral director’s car door.

22. There is never a pen in your cassock pocket. Even when you know you left one there the last time you had it on.

23. There is a ‘right’ tune for every hymn. It’s just not the one you chose.

24. You should never take your diary with you to church.

25. Visiting on spec is a waste of time because no one is ever in during the day. Except for the people who are.

26. Everything stops in September. You thought that’s when it started, but that’s when your congregation (who are all retired) go on cruises.

27. You don’t have to make an emergency dog collar any more if you’ve forgotten the real one. Just say you agree with Archbishop Sentamu’s stand on these things.

28. People have long memories, and everyone is related to everyone else. Be careful.

29. The DAC is your friend, and the Faculty process will save your life (Anglicans only).

30. Who else can pronounce a blessing on people and say it’s work?

Rules for Reverends Vol II

December 3, 2011 § 1 Comment


11. Some different coloured raffle tickets are hard to tell apart.

12. The most emotional funeral visit is the one you’re not expecting to be.


13. Saying ‘yes please’ when offered a drink in someone’s home is an extreme sport.


14. You can’t help watching someone’s TV, even with the sound turned down.


15.  Being more interested in the parents’ Mercedes/motor bike/hi-fi rather than their baby is not good form on a baptism visit.


16. Just because you’re on Twitter doesn’t make you acceptable to the young.


17. You are not there to outshine the Bride, nor give the Best Man’s speech.


18. Organists are uniformly lovely, and uniformly misunderstood.


19. people who say they are sorry for disturbing you because you’re very busy really mean it, and really are.


20. No other role gets you involved in the highest and lowest points of people’s lives, especially not all in the same afternoon.


Rules for Reverends

December 2, 2011 § 1 Comment

One or two things I’ve picked up. Feel free to add your own.

1. The house you are looking for in the dark will be the one without a number.

2. You will receive your first complaint about a service you thought was brilliant within ten minutes of arriving home.

3. No doorbell ever works.

4. The only people who ring before nine o’clock in the morning are undertakers or Bishops.

5. The one time you answer the phone in an amusing way will be the one time you wish you hadn’t.

6. No dog which ‘just wants to play’ should be trusted.

7. You should always have a grace ready. Or ‘a few words’. Or (in Africa) a sermon.

8. You think that wearing a dog collar will get you a better deal, or give weight when you complain. It won’t.

9. In a PCC meeting even those you know well will say stuff that you wouldn’t believe.

10. No, it’s not a job. Yes, it is the best in the world.

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