Monday, 22 April 2013

Selection, Rejection and proper responses

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).


1 comment:

UKViewer said...

The issue for many of those who go to BAP is the answer isn't NO, but NOT.

NOT SUITABLE for Ordained Ministry not necessarily for any form of ministry.

So, while I passed the criteria for Ministry in the Church of England, there were other aspects, which taken together made me NOT SUITABLE for Ordained Ministry.

The confusing part was going through a diocesan panel, being rigorously grilled and receiving a report which judged me suitable and recommending that the Bishop send me for National Selection.

The crux of it is whether you are suitable for training for Ordained Ministry, not actually for the Ministry itself.

There seems to me to be an element of elitism in this, as those with degree's have an advantage over those who don't, who are pushed a lot harder to demonstrate that the have the potential to cope with the rigours of academic study, without any consideration of whether there is scope for development.

I suspect that costs do have something to do with this. The Church is taking a risk by sending someone for training, who hasn't demonstrated their potential by having done a degree. And training costs are high and getting higher year on year. So, they might be inclined to say NOT and pass the buck back to DDO's or Vocations teams, hopefully who will have a system that you describe in place to support ongoing discernment.

Unfortunately, some dioceses don't and I fall into that category.

I can't fault the DDO, he was brilliant and so was the Bishop and Assistant DDO that I met, but somehow the system doesn't operate continuous care for NOT candidates, but concentrates their resources on YES candidates.

There has to be priorities and resources are stretched, so pragmatic decisions are necessary. It's just how they are handled and followed up that presents an issue for me and many others.