When Andy Early moved to Bismarck, North Dakota from Houston, Texas three years ago to be closer to family, he took a job in the foodservice industry. But he’d worked in ministry before and ultimately knew it was where he’d end up again. “I was coming up with excuses about why I shouldn’t be a pastor,” he said. “God kept answering them with a relentless pursuit. I couldn’t be quiet about my faith.”
After joining Legacy UMC, he quickly became involved in the life of the church and even preached a couple of times. He also shared with Lead Pastor Rev. Brandon Vetter that he’d been thinking about planting a church. So when the church was looking to expand to a second campus in the south part of Bismarck, Vetter asked Early to pray about starting and leading that campus.
Early has a five-step discernment process that includes listening, prayer, testing a nudging he’s experiencing with scripture, talking with wise Christian counsel, then taking action while staying in the spirit of discernment. Throughout that process, Early kept getting confirmation that God was calling him to start Legacy’s new campus, so he quit his day job and took classes to become a licensed local pastor; he plans to start seminary next year and eventually become an ordained elder.
Early joined the church’s staff full time in January and is now networking as well as leading Bible studies, creating small groups, and planning events to build community in south Bismarck. The hope is to launch worship in late 2018 or early 2019. “I’m trying to build that body of believers,” said Early. “I want to let them know there’s hope and it comes in the person of Jesus Christ.”
God calls everyone into ministry. Have you been sitting in the pews wondering where God is calling you? Come to the Discernment Retreat on October 27 at Wahpeton UMC to learn more about your call. Get the details here.
Create a culture of call in your church or with a group of churches by planning intentional activities like small groups or a retreat. Apply for a Culture of Call grant. Contact the Office of Leadership Development by e-mail or phone 605-990-7796.