When I said that whilst some who had not been selected felt that they, 'Weren't wanted' and made the remark that, 'This is not what selection does, says or is,' I should have added, 'Or at least shouldn't be!'
One of those who has experienced the dark side of the Church of England's selection process writes:
'I'm sure the church believes this is true. But the system that is in place makes it very difficult to experience being turned down after a BAP as anything other than a rejection, and a violent one at that. If you spend up to two years carefully and often painfully working through a discernment process with your DDO, get recommended to the Bishop, go and see the Bishop and get recommended to a panel, and then are turned down (in my case) primarily on the basis of a single interview with a vocational advisor who you have never met before, it's difficult not to take it very hard. They say it's not rejection, but it sure feels like it.'
One of the things that has impressed me greatly is the support that our DDO has put in place for those who have received a 'No' (or perhaps 'Not Yet").
The other thing that we have is a process whereby potential candidates are met with by Vocations Advisors who help with the discernment and, being one I know this to be true, will say 'No' openly and honestly and work with that person to help them find the niche that exists for their particular form of ministry.
That said there are some whom, if anecdotal evidence is to be believed, send people up the chain because they don't want to be the person who says 'No'; an act which is duplicitous and damaging to the person and the well-being of the church and its ministry. After all, as Matthew 5. 37 tells us, 'All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. I'd add to that the 'Not Yet' and tell them what they need to do to gain experience, prove abilities yet unseen and the like - anything outside these is fudge or side-stepping the reality and this will lead to more pain and lost ministries in the long run.
Rightly or wrongly, I do have a great deal of confidence in the selection process and whilst when I went through it I found myself in the company of some who knew everything that was coming (even the questions which they'd learnt answers to beforehand!) I have to say that I knew enough to know what to expect in terms of format but everything was pretty much a surprise, a real benefit, as the selectors saw me and not someone else's answers. There is much to discuss concerning preparation, and we will be looking at this (and the fact that no one gets selected, or not, alone - it is a journey and an outcome that affects more than the one who goes off for the conference).