Thursday 24 April 2014

Church of England BAPs - Those 50 Secret Tricky Questions

It is a well-known fact that all Anglicans who are possibly called to ministry, having attended a Bishops' Advisory Panel (BAP), are sworn to secrecy regarding what actually happens. The status of BAP candidate is akin to the outer circle of the Freemasons, in more ways than one.

So it was at great personal risk (thankfully not mine) that we managed to get a Beaker infiltrator through Confirmation, DDO and the entire series of assessors that lead to BAP attendance. And by scratching the questions onto the soles of his feet with a pair of compasses (used for drawing circles in the notoriously difficult "Describe the Geometry of the Trinity" exercise, he has managed to evade the detailed body-search procedures that might have led to his being discovered.

  1. Can you explain the doctrine of predestination, using matchsticks and boiled sweets?
  2. How much of a Fleetwood Mac fan are you?
  3. Which parts of postmodernism are you just blagging?
  4. Which soap star has been the biggest influence on your life? 
  5. Canterbury or Hippo?
  6. How's your head for heights? And your ability at tiling?
  7. Do you think that biretta's premature?
  8. African swallow, or European?
  9. Are you scared of nuns in particular, or just women in particular? [Optional for female candidates]
  10. Out of 150, what percentage of your time do you think you'll be able to give to administration?
  11. Can you give an example of where you've removed some furniture against the preferences of the person whose house it actually is?
  12. Which denomination would you prefer to let down in Ecumenical dialogue?
  13. Did you think nobody noticed you have that third pint last night?
  14. You know the 48-hour rule doesn't apply, don't you?
  15. Which Genesis albums do you own both on vinyl and CD?
  16. Do you prefer your sherry oloroso or fino?
  17. How many chickens do you think?
  18. If you had two successive meetings, 14 miles apart, how fast do you think you could drive to get between them?
  19. Do you have any idea how silly you'll look in a rose chasuble?
  20. Meetings will form a fair part of your day. Can you show me what you look like when fast asleep with your eyes open?
  21. You know Dibley is imaginary, don't you?
  22. Christendom may be dead - but don't you think it would be better if it wasn't?
  23. How do you handle conflict? This is not a hypothetical question.
  24. Do you have any concept of what exhaustion means?
  25. What kind of a scruffy, lovable old dog are you thinking of getting?
  26. How's your juggling? No - with eggs, not calendars.
  27. Can you use this calendar of lunar phases, and this map of the East Anglian coast, to work out the tide times for next week in Great Yarmouth?
  28. If not, how are you going to manage the Lectionary?
  29. How do think it will feel, being the one not crying at your friends' funerals?
  30. You know the peasants won't just do what you say these days?
  31. You know how it's nice to be able to relax in the evening? How do you think it would be, not to?
  32. Did you just get into this for the quiche?
  33.  Not using decimals, how many meetings do your reckon you can fit into a typical 16-hour day?
  34. Does your spouse have any idea what he/she is in for?
  35. Do you want people to like you?
  36. In that case, do you think you should be doing something else?
  37. How far, do you reckon, could you throw a choirmaster?
  38. What level of oil boiler maintenance have you reached?
  39. How much Moltmann have you read?
  40. Are you exaggerating?
  41. You have read the Bible, haven't you? All of it, not just the bits at Christmas?
  42. You know all the "vicars" on Twitter are impostors, don't you?
  43. How's your memory for names?
  44. Can you make a bridge from toilet rolls and paper clips? How might you apply this to your ministry?
  45. You may learn a lot of Greek words over the next three years. How quickly do you reckon you can forget them again?
  46. Have you ever considered what it's like trying to manage amateurs?
  47. Some people will think you're closer to God than they are. You won't let that go to your head, will you?
  48. You may spend your curacy in a squirrel costume, doing the church children's work. In what way will you be following the footsteps of St Francis?
  49. Can you explain the Parable of the Talents through interpretive dance?
  50. When you see yourself in a dog collar in the mirror - how likely is it you'll swear? And after 10 years?

(Should you want to know, yes our agent got through.  And there's talk of him one day being an Archdeacon.)

Bryony has a much more fanciful idea of the whole thing, if you want a look.

And then here's a personal account of this weird activity, with a link to more examples.


  1. As someone who went and suffered I can categorically state that I was asked various permutations of those questions, not necessarily in the same order.

    The frightening one was when they asked me "Do you see yourself as a Woman Bishop"? As I'm a bloke (not on my way to the other side) I asked them if they'd been to specsavers recently?

    I now know that this was the killer question and answer that got me the NOT Recommended for Training :(

    1. I'm trying to think what the "right" answer was. (I reckon there are no right answers)

  2. Thanks, I will be sure to ask some of these when I am interviewing in June.

  3. Sadly, sadly, question 10 is far too close to the bone.

  4. off to BAP in June soooooo helpful,
    answers to all closed questions which could be yes or no- always yes, except 49 - which is yes yes yes just give me a cheese cloth skirt, leotard and scarf.
    any questions requiring a numerical answer must contain 5 in it - 5 marks of mission
    several question require the mention of or use of match sticks referred to in question 1.
    on the whole, these are very joined up fact one big blob

    1. You and "John" (above) should get on like a house on fire, I reckon.

      7 sacraments (or 2?)

  5. I've never been an ordination candidate but I do have over 50 years experience in various positions of responsibility in Churches of various ilks. I do warn anyone I know who is going for posts that will be split between Parishes and functions that, in the crazy mathematics of the Church, 1/2 = at least 0.8 and 1/2 + 1/2 = something between 1.3 and 2.5, depending on what's happening.

  6. BAPing tomorrow. Thanks for the heads up! What's with Genesis and Fleetwood Mac? I was told definitively only las week that the capacity to bowl off-cutters in the Church Times cup was the secret to success!

  7. The answer to the question to me about would I like to be a Woman Bishop, when I am a bloke would now be Yes, Please, because preferment means that I'd be the ABC withing weeks. :)

  8. The other thing to warn candidates about must the the pastoral exercise - I'm sure that some of those in 'Writes for the Parish Magazine' could be posed to really challenge the candidates - particularly if Rev Nathan is one of the Bishops Assessors


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