Culture, change and individual differences in the Scottish episcopal church.
Brown, Mary Louise
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There is continuing interest in religion and spirituality in Britain, although membership of mainstream churches is declining. Perceived secularisation of contemporary British society, together with increasing competition from ‘New Age’ movements, is causing many churches to review their approach to mission. This study considers the impact of the Scottish Episcopal Church’s strategy, Mission 21, during 1999-2004, initially under the controversial leadership of Primus Richard Holloway. Its explicit aim was to create a ‘postmodern’ church, attractive to those ‘on the margins of faith’. The research discovered that managerial and sociological approaches alone are insufficient to understand meaning and change in organisations, and that unique insights into the cultural change process may be gained from understanding of psychological individual differences, both of organisations and their members. In this case the instrument used was the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and derived Keirsey Temperament Sorter (KTS). A case study approach was adopted to develop theory grounded in the data, collected from grass roots congregations in the shape of MBTI profiles of clergy and key players, and a repertory grid analysis of the clergy role; and at strategic level with a participant observation study. Clergy were expected to be spiritual enactors of worship, leaders and managers of resources, and, most importantly for congregational key stakeholders of all personality types, to minister to congregations’ emotional needs. This tended to inhibit their ability to drive through culture change. The Church’s culture appeared predominantly traditionalist, although there was also evidence of a more liberal and mystical strain. However, the aim by Holloway to attract the interest of ultra-liberals was seen to extend the Church’s ‘market niche’ further than could be sustained even in a relatively heterogeneous culture. The research indicated that change in a faith-based organisation, concerned with people’s deepest emotions and anxieties, cannot ignore individual differences at the expense of managerial factors when understanding of the former provides a unique insight into the change process.