Really, what have vocations got to do with God?

This has now officially been announced as a mistake: (Christian) Vocation Advisers wanted 

It is a pretty astonishing mistake to make, for not only is the lack of a Christian commitment crystal clear in the advert, but also implicit in the role description and person specification. 

You might think that the clue is in the word “vocation”. It means a call, and in traditional church use, the identity of the primary caller was taken to be God. It was therefore a little strange already when the Archbishop’s Council announced a target of increasing ordinations by 50% by 2020 (PDF here). Who exactly is going to carry out God’s performance appraisal if he fails to meet this target?

Being charitable (and telling my inner outdated traditionalist to “shut up”), I assumed that this was primarily about developing new ways to help people (and especially younger people) see that God could be calling someone like them. This might be an invitation or challenge they would never hear unless it was presented in fresh ways, with some imaginative resourcing. It might also be the case that the church, in exercising discernment for what God was calling people to, needed to be less hidebound by traditional patterns of education, or inherited models of ministry. All of that might offer interesting and rewarding routes for exploration.

However, if the church really believes the vocation comes from God, setting targets for increases in vocations seem, shall we say, at least mildly presumptuous.

But perhaps the Church of England no longer believes vocations are from God. Perhaps it’s just a job in the church. For it has now advertised for a National Young Vocations Adviser. God is optional.

We are looking for someone who can create change by inspiring and supporting others in a wide network with a strong track record of delivery. Professional knowledge of Millennial Christianity and/or recruitment marketing would be an advantage. This role does not have an occupational requirement to be a Christian. (My emphasis)

You need knowledge of recruitment and marketing technique to encourage people to what has traditionally been presented as responding to God’s call. You have to persuade people to answer an invitation from someone you don’t have to believe is there to offer one. Who needs faith when you’ve got marketing technique?

In fact, if you look at the desirable characteristics of the role, the person will ideally have:

Knowledge of the characteristics of the Millennial generation, how they understand career-paths and/or faith (my emphasis again)

After that, I can only end in gobsmacked speechlessness.

 

3 Replies to “Really, what have vocations got to do with God?”

  1. HI Doug
    I join you in being both gobsmacked speechless and completely unsurprised. After all the Bishop Jo was extolling the virtues of the Hollywood filmaker Pixar as model for CofE renewal when she came to a Bishop’s Training Day – last year or the one before?

    Michael Buble got it right in “Hollywood is dead”

    Could you be a teenage idol?
    Could you be a movie star?
    When I turn on my TV, will you smile and wave at me,
    telling Oprah who you are?
    So you want to be a rock star,
    with blue-eyed bunnies in your bed?
    Well, remember when you’re rich that you sold yourself for this,
    you’ll be famous ’cause you’re dead

    So don’t go higher for desire
    Put in in your head,
    baby, Hollywood is dead,
    you can find it in yourself

    I don’t want to take you dancin’
    when you’re dancin’ with the world
    You can flush your caviar and your million dollar car,
    I don’t need that kind of girl
    But could you be the next sensation?
    Will you set the latest style?
    You don’t need a catchy song
    ’cause the kids’ll sing along when you sell it with a smile

    So don’t go higher for desire
    Put it in your head,
    baby, Hollywood is dead, you can find it in yourself.
    So don’t fly higher for your fire
    Put in your head,
    baby, Hollywood is dead, you can find it in yourself.

    Na na na na na na (Keep it in your head, Hollywood is dead)

    Well, you can do the money tango
    You can start your little band
    You can swing from vine to vine while the cuties wait in line
    with the money in their hands
    But if you get to California, save a piece of gold for me.
    And it’s the only thing you’ll save,
    but I’ll bet you’ll never wave when I watch you on TV.

    So don’t go higher for desire
    Put it in your head,
    baby, Hollywood is dead, you can find it in yourself.
    So don’t fly higher for your fire.
    Put it in your head,
    baby, Hollywood is dead, you can find it in yourself.
    Keep on lovin’ what is true and the world will come to you,
    you can find it in yourself
    Love what is true and the world will come to you,
    you can find it in yourself
    No no no no no…

    1. I’m not sure I should allow people to quote Michael Buble on this blog, but as long as you promise not to actually let him sing … 🙂

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