It’s interesting to see the number of senior level appointments in UK mission agencies at the moment. Latin Link have recently appointed a new UK Team Leader / CEO (me); ECM closed applications last month for a new International Director, applications close tomorrow for the next BMS Director of World Mission and on 12th July for European Director for AIM UK and National Director for Interserve.
Comparing and contrasting job application packs, role and person specifications for these roles is a niche interest; but they reveal a couple of interesting things.
Changing contexts. All of the packs recognise that we are living through a significant time of change; both in terms of the UK church but also in global mission.
Interserve: We are looking for a man or woman who understands the current challenges in both world mission and churches and mission in the UK and Ireland, and remains excited by the possibilities that change and transformation will bring.
Funding issues. Partly a result of declining UK church membership and their current reliance on legacies, most of the agencies acknowledge financial challenges or as BMS puts it, “declining traditional UK income sources”. This means that we need to “develop a new paradigm for the way in which we enable, fund and support mission” (Latin Link) and become “sustainably structured and funded” (Interserve).
Working collaboratively. Most of the agencies see a need to work collaboratively with other like-minded agencies though none spell out what that might look like. All of them recognise a need to work more closely with UK churches (though AIM phrase that in the traditional ‘inspiring UK churches to engage in mission’)
Leading change. All of these appointments see the role as initiating and leading change and innovation (again without spelling out what that might look like). Most of them tie this with to an ability to think theologically / missiologically as well.
Given that the people appointed are likely to be in post for at least five years, and some other organisations (like WEC) also have some new people moving into senior roles, suggests that the mission agency scene is likely to change quite a bit over the next few years.
All of the roles require a mixture of leading a staff team, being the public face of the organisation, networking with others, relating to international teams and partners, handling complex (and limited) budgets and a good understanding of governance, health & safety, risk management and HR law. So if you like demanding roles, managing competing priorities and seeking to offer spiritual leadership then why not apply for one of these roles.
Sounds like a big challenge, especially when the survival of the organisations seems to be the measure of success.
I suspect we might see some agencies merge or fold. I expect we will see some try and work more closely together, if only as an attempt to control costs.