News from Denmark 2008-2009

New management structure in the Church of Denmark

One of the major challenges over the next few years will be that the Church of Denmark has a new finan-cial and management structure. As in society at large, the church has also had to bow to the trend of “New Public Management” (NPM), which is basically about being able to measure efficiency to improve finan-cial management. Those who are not “efficient” do not receive any money.
The principal is based on the church as a corporation having a target to fulfil. This target is to proclaim Jesus Christ as the saviour of the world. Everyone employed by the corporation from the top down – e.g. the parish councils and deacons – is to then reformulate in their own words how they can help fulfil that target at a local level. Subsequently, performance in terms of fulfilment will be assessed.
Budgets will look different too. From being budgets which summarised projected costs – grouped under headings – they will now be grouped under targets: “We want an increase in church attendance of 5% with-in the next 2 years” for example All costs related to fulfilling that target will then come under this heading.
It will become very important that we are able to formulate “what we want to do with our church” wherever we happen to live. If we cannot, we will not receive any money with which to provide a church. In other words, we will have to “profile” our churches, put into words what sort of church we will provide in our local environs.
A lot of effort is going into putting into words concepts we have simply got on with in the past.
Critics of the new financial management structure are many. But it may actually prove to be an advantage for the hearing-impaired. For example, I have noticed growing interest in the deaneries for a contact pastor for the hearing-impaired. Formulating the need – for example – for a part-time contact pastor can in many instances be just what is needed to legitimise the retention of a full-time pastor in each parish.
There will also be increased interest in formulating other targets in line with what has occurred in one particular parish already (Revninge). One of their targets is “We also want to be a church for the hearing-impaired”. Other deaconries have also already formulated similar targets to the benefit of the hearing-impaired (Herning): “We want to have a local fund in the deaconry to be able to always pay for interpreta-tion in church.”
I also sense a tendency amongst the contact pastors to begin to profile themselves. They have started to hold services with help for the hearing-impaired several places, without having to wait for me, as regional pastor, to come by.
The frequency of services with help for the hearing-impaired west of Storebælt has thus risen dramatically. Between December 2008 and May 2009, there was a 100% increase! This could involve a contact pastor ordering a written interpreter for a service, or one who orders sign-supported language communication, or one who subtitles the service him- or her self.
The latest news on the Telecoil Circular
The replacement for the Telecoil Circular, scrapped by the Ministry around 3 years ago, is finally ready. It will be a web-based guide. The regional pastors (who are the Ministry’s consultants for telecoils) and the Ministry’s loudspeaker consultant have been consulted, and the proposal will now be sent out for feedback from public organisations.
Søren Skov Johansen
Regional pastor for the hearing-impaired west of Storebælt
Vienna 27-28 March 2009