Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Selection: Not 'No' but 'Not Yet'

Amazed at the amount of conversations I've had regarding the can of worms that is offering oneself for ministry and the selection process.

Stunned by those who have heard, 'No, now go away,' even though often this response was indeed tacit (and yet was supported by the actions and attitudes of those who should most assuredly know better).

Sure, that when the response has been 'No' or 'Not Yet' the response of sending churches ( and especially the incumbent), DDOs and others should be (in my best Michael Caine voice and sensitive to gender considerations):

'Hang on lads, I've got a great idea . . .'

Some of my greatest joys in my ministry life have come from having worked with people who have returned from a BAP or DAP (hereafter referred to as 'selection') with a 'Not yet' or 'Not this calling'.The reason for this is greater that the sum of the parts but contains these elements:

Wrong language: Where submission, sense of calling, collegiality, collaboration and humility are to be sought, selectors have heard the opposite or mixed messages.

I always seek to get those I work with to explain what ordination will enable them to be, do, or do differently. One person who had come after a 'Not Yet' took great pains to explain that the honest answer was 'Nothing!' A response that demanded the questions, 'So why have you applied?' and 'How did you end up at selection conference!'

The response showed someone who was already in what was, dog collar and label aside, a ministry role. The key wax to unlock the passion for that calling and provide the words that invited exploration and revealed the calling (already recognised but needing to be ratified ).

Wrong Ideas: Quite a few people think that they should be ordained because , 'I don't have enough time to do what I do in church and do my job outside!'

This could well be calling to ministry but I could also be the result of being someone who can't say no or possesses poor time management skills (or both). I tend to regard 'doing' as something that shows commitment to the body and evidence of discipleship, but there are some who see it as the establishing of a track record and supporting evidence, The ' why' is more important than the 'what' for me - it's often a clincher in discerning vocation!

Just wrong: the dog collar who sends someone because they are doing and this needs recognition and reward in ordination or a Lay Ministry role. Ordination and ministry roles are not rewards, they are who we are released to be!

Wrong; Not investing time and effort in those who come forward before and regardless of outcome if selection conference is met, afterwards too. As discernment process moves on, opportunities and avenues of ministry should be walked along with an eye for the right fruit for those who accompany you. It's not what the role is, but that it fulfils and mutually defines the person seeking and the role itself.

NOT YET indicates something that is both ongoing and being actively engaged with. If you are the proud possessor of o e of these then you are still very much engaged in the discerning of joy vocation and so should others be!

So get out there and be a blinking nuisance!

Chivvy your clergy ( remember the widow and the magistrate?).

Chase your vocations people and challenge them to help you find the right shaped hole for you (and worry if they eventually meet you late at night in the woods with a shovel).

Talk to the pointyhatted ones and explain where and what and why (absolutely serious step - not to be taken lightly and realising they are busy, but ultimately have the cure if your soul as their charge (and remember what happened to Thomas å Becket!!).

Carpe diem (which auto text corrects to 'carpet firm') - grab the opportunities, listen to the witness of God (internally and from others) and don't lose sight of that which you feel called to. Talk about it (but don't become a bore!), prayer about if(and don't forget to listen), read about it (the more you understand the clearer your conversation can be) and be tenacious (stubborn).

Seek out those who will listen, advise (critically) and live you on your journey - for we are family and brother-in-arms and must Luce as such.



UKViewer said...

I suspect that I'm doing this to death, but the vocations path is strewn with the bodies of those who've lost their way on it and have become the casualties of it all.

Lots of good advice in your post, I can't fault it, but I wonder how widely it will be shared by others. I'm sure that DDO's, ADDO's and Vocations staff believe that they've got it right. I also believe that Incumbents do have insight into those who present for ministry and wouldn't put them forward to either Vocations teams or DDO's without the conviction that they discern a call to Ministry which is genuine, realistic and valid. But somehow, the system still leaves casualties along the path.

One issue that you highlight that 'doing' is evidence of discipleship, but some view it as creating a portfolio to help their case for Ordination. One aspect of my BAP was one assessor describing my existing ministry and my description of it as 'routine' which I took as a put down. The ministry I had was what was authorised and permitted by my incumbent - and if it was limited, that wasn't really something I could defend justify. Promises that I would be permitted to lead some services of the word or to deliver some 'talks' never materialised, and couldn't be part of my description of ministry so far.

What was missing what any help or guidance of the potential for development of this or how it reflected on the potential for a future ministry, if NOT Ordained.

Somehow the church needs to address these issues, with follow up on BAP reports for Diocesan Vocations Teams, Incumbents and individuals to allow a full appreciation and discernment of an individuals potential.

After all, assessors have individuals on hand for 2.5 days, and complete in depth study of the strengths or limitations of the individual, why can't their assessment look at the wider potential for ministry, other than ordained?

The Underground Pewster said...

This kind of thing happens in the U.S. in the Episcopal church as well. I recall one young man who got a "No, not even close yet," (I had thought he was liberal but the examiner thought he was way too conservative) and was never steered into another path other than the the one that eventually led him out the door.