So, what is God’s calling? And how does your ministry fit into it here and now? Read on for a few helpful steps that will guide you in your discovery for the upcoming program year.
Where do your ministry’s gladness and the world’s hunger intersect these days? Tell us in the comments below! We can’t wait to hear!
Just like in our personal lives, before we move ahead with something new we must first address our present state of health. Our bodies can perform the work of pouring into something else when we are filled up. As a result, we will have the energy to spare, time to invest, space for more, and the resources at hand.
In the same way, we must evaluate our church body’s state of health before moving in a new direction. It is, of course, possible that God’s call is to heal, replenish, and restore if that’s what the season calls for. If your church has gone through a particularly trying period, spend time resting before catapulting into anything new.
So, how is your church doing? What has happened in the last few years? Has it been taxing? Is this a season of rest? Is it a time for grief? Or is the time right for new and exciting ventures? This is the first indicator of the type of work into which God is calling you and your church.
No matter the nature of the work your community is called to, it is good. Simply be wise and honest about that which you have the spiritual, emotional and physical resources for at this particular time in your story. Take an inventory and spend time reflecting.
If your church is ready for the work of heading into new territory, keep reading!
Paying Attention to Passions
Consider where your passions lie. If you can’t get excited about something, it’s going to be challenging to lead a group in bringing it to be. Your ministry needs you to be passionate about what’s happening. They look to you and they draw on your energy. Once you’ve made progress here, widen the scope.
What has come up in conversation with ministry leaders and volunteers? What have people been excited about in recent months? Avoid thinking back too far into the past here. What gave life and energy five years ago may be what does so now. But, it’s possible that this has shifted. Stay alert.
You’ve reflected on where passions lie within you and your congregation. Now, search for any overlap that may exist. What excitement do you share with those in your church? Keep these areas in the front of your mind and pray over them as you discern God’s call.
Taking Inventory of Gifts
It’s crucial that you know what you’re particularly good at when looking ahead to new possibilities. Take stock of where gifts lie within you. If you haven’t already, explore your spiritual gifts with this assessment from the United Methodist Church. Also, consider what comes easily and energizes you based on your personality and temperament.
Then, once you’re familiar with your gifts, think about what gifts lie in your faith family. We often plan a cool, new program, and then try to find people to serve in it. It works better to build the new venture around gifts and talents already present within your community. So, ideally, start with the areas of ability in your church at present and go from there.
Don’t get caught in the trap of assuming that your church’s gifts are what they always have been. For example, it’s possible that fifteen years ago there was a group of men who were fabulous at woodworking. Are they still attending and able? Are they still invested in the craft and in using it to serve?
Sometimes, without realizing, we lose track of the ways the landscape has changed. In paying attention to the present you may discover people and their talents you wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. And this can open new doors to God’s calling.
Locating a Need
Consider your local community. What needs exist in your neighborhood? Perhaps an area of strain within your city or county comes to mind instead. Alternatively, the need may be as close as your own faith family.
Or maybe there’s something farther from your context that calls for addressing. Consider a broader need in the country or world that presses on your heart and the hearts of your congregation. Presbyterian pastor Jan Edmiston shares an important question in this blog post: What breaks God’s heart?
God’s calling for the Church and your particular church is always attached and motivated by need. There is so much need. And we can’t minister to all of it. But, we can change things together, and we are together changed by serving. So, simply pay attention to what’s compelling and follow the path that unfolds toward it.
Now, you’ve evaluated the health of your congregation. You have taken inventory of your shared passions and gifts. And you’re clear on where particular needs lie. This will all begin to guide you toward your ministry’s sense of God’s calling.
Now, go over what resources you have available to your ministry efforts already. In your assessment of these resources, be sure to look ahead to what your other projected expenses you have in the coming year. Then, once you have a handle on those, figure out what you have available for a possible new calling.
If there is little free for use, stay hopeful. There is so much money that individuals, organizations, and denominations are hoping to give for just the kind of thing that God’s inviting you to do.
So, if funds are short but all the other pieces are there and ready, then ask for a specific donation amount from the congregation. Next, search for financial support from outside the church. Do not let a lack of money hold your ministry back from saying yes to God’s calling.
We hope this helps you feel inspired to live out that to which God is beckoning you and your ministry. Don’t forget to share in the comments below what that is. We’d all love to hear!