Monday, 7 March 2011

A service level agreement - for Bishops?

Yes, back in the naughty nineties, service level agreements were all the rage in industry. I actually like the concept; it is a very good way of focusing attention on what one should be doing and how efficiently one should do it.
Let me explain. A service level agreement (SLA) was a written timed plan of each and every action that you might reasonably be expected to perform if you were providing a service to a consumer. For example, if you were a Chinese take away restaurateur your SLA might begin like this:-

1. Answer incoming phone calls within three rings
2. Provide all menu items within a ten minute time frame
3. Deliver within a 3 mile radius within 20 minutes of order

You get the picture - it's a blow by blow account of performance aims. It's a means of moving towards a quality standard, of achieving excellence.

So how would it work for a Bishop? Well I am proposing that it might be used as a tool for achieving better performance from his priests. That is not to say that they are all performing badly, I revert to my old formula of one third excellent, one third reasonable and one third poor to abysmal. Our excellent priests are truly excellent and, if we had a 100 like Fr Tim, Fr Ray, Fr Z, Fr Simon Henry, Fr Sean, Fr Jason, Fr John B etc., we would have England and Wales back as Mary's Dowry within ten years!
But just think what power we would have if we could convert the other two thirds into similar dynamic and holy priests - the churches would be full again and vocations directors would be snowed under with applicants.

So here is a somewhat simplistic draft for the Bishops to consider, it is not exhaustive, please feel free to add your own particular SLA as you see fit, this list is not in any particular order:-


1. Dress in clerical garb on all public occasions. Mufti is only to be worn when relaxing at base or, on holiday away from your parish.

2. Ensure that the sick and infirm of the parish have access to the Sacrament of Penance BEFORE a visit from an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion

3. Provide opportunities for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at least once per week

4. Provide a 40 hours Blessed Sacrament exposition at least once per quarter

5. Visit every school in your parish for catechesism classes once each week

6. Check every 6 months if there is a demand for the Extraordinary Form of Mass with your parishioners (and implement it if required)

7. Spend at least two hours each day on your knees in front of a crucifix or the Blessed Sacrament

8. Establish a bi-weekly rosary group

9. Make a visit plan to ensure that you visit (and bless) every home in your parish once each year

10. Increase Mass attendance on a Sunday by 5% year on year

Please add any that you think I might have left out. It works very well in commerce, I see no reason why it should not work in the parish.

NB: Could all  Bishops wishing to take this further please form an orderly queue.


  1. The flock might be more impressed after a year of seeing the following in use.


    (Details to follow. First 8 are obvious enough to start immediately.)

  2. The hot term (over here, at least) is "performance metrics". It's a little pathetic when we have to reduce the art of priesthood to a list of boxes to check off, but maybe that's what we have to do. If you're going to treat your vocation like a job in the private sector, then you should meet some basic performance measures like a job in the private sector.