Did you ever think about the people Jesus chose as followers?
It’s not that there wasn’t a wide choice available; there were plenty of learned men, plenty of candidates in the rabbinic schools, but he didn’t choose those. He chose ordinary blokes, working men; men who came home at the end of the day with their hands dirty; men who lived by the sweat of their brow.
The small minority who might venture into church next Sunday would hear these words,
As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fish for people.’ And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.
But sorry, lads, two thousand years on, and you haven’t the skills necessary to train leaders for the church.
These are the Church of Ireland’s full criteria for a lecturer in practical theology. This is the person who is to train people preparing to be clergy in how to do the practical stuff:
Academic qualifications commensurate with post-graduate teaching. (It is expected that the candidate will have completed, or be close to the completion of, a doctoral degree.)
Experience of teaching at degree level in the required fields
Evidence of published and planned research relating to one or more of the relevant areas
An understanding of, and willingness to implement, the educational philosophy behind the course
A proven ability to teach and to model reflective practice
An ability to organise the development of practical placements and internships
Either an experience of distance learning methodologies or a willingness to master these requirements, and a commitment to deliver in this mode
A level of technological capability that will enable distance learning to be delivered
No experience necessary in actually working on the ground; no understanding as to why the churches are empty; no appreciation needed of working class culture (or even insights into middle class culture, for that matter); no need to have actually done anything. This is like having a consultant surgeon who is skilled in the theory of cutting people open, but has not actually done much of the nasty stuff himself.
There was a time when I thought the Church of Ireland had an active contempt for working people; now, I think that judgment to be unfair. We just have a benign indifference to reality.