I spent my day off this week in Argyll, which is abuzz with rumours about who might be o­n the list to be the next bishop of Argyll and the Isles. Well, perhaps “abuzz” is to go too far. It is certainly drizzling with rumours about who might be o­n the list when it comes out. I guess there are always some silly names suggested who will be weeded out in the process and I guess that there are also sensible people suggested who weed themselves out. This must be especially true of Argyll which is so heavy with church history and local beauty and so short of actual worshippers. It must be a thankless task being the bishop of an area which stretches from Campbeltown to Stornoway.

I've been thinking quite a bit about how we end up with the bishops we end up with. I'm firmly convinced that our dioceses are far too big and that we want more bishops. I also think that if the dioceses were smaller then some of them could combine their work with parochial work. I would also welcome some mechanism of getting people to do the job of being the bishop in the glory years of their career rather than their sunset years. Some have suggested fixed term episcopates, but I'm not sure of that.

Lots of people in the church want bishops to be old and dull and pastoral. I think that the o­nly criterion should be that they can lead the local people in mission. We never choose them for their ability to chair meetings or administer complex organisations and yet we expect them to do this. We should engage people who are competent to do these things and consecrate bishops for the task at hand; preaching for change, provoking the nation, praying in the kingdom.  

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