In this episode of the Vital Connection, Taylor Johnson and Curtis Mittendorf, Sioux Falls First United Methodist Church, discuss how they are discerning their call to ministry with Sheri Meister, executive director of the Dakotas United Methodist Foundation. The two candidates for ministry, share their called stories and discuss several different processes they are going through while discerning their call to ministry. Here are some of their insights:
Climbing mountains—Taylor Johnson and Curtis Mittendorf are climbing mountains on their journey into ministry. Some of the obstacles they face include: responses from family and friends about answering their call, the cost and workload of seminary, being placed somewhere outside of their comfort zone, and all the different steps to ordination. They both know that being in ministry is something God has called them to do They have put their faith and trust in God to help them climb any mountains they may face along the way.
Cultivating the call—In their leadership roles so far, both have experiences where they have been able to guide others as they discern the call God may have for them. Curtis saw that several of his confirmation students may be called into ministry and made sure to point it out as a way of planting a seed. Taylor has had the privilege of helping Curtis cultivate his own calling and help him discern where it is God is calling him to.
Reaching beyond the church walls—One of the vital parts of being the church is to share your faith outside of the church walls. It is important to create a feeling of community where people can feel welcome without feeling like they are being judged. Asking someone about their experience with church is a good way to start an open and honest conversation.
Identifying God’s gifts. We all have gifts that we are given from God. Part of discerning your call is figuring out what your gifts are and you can use those gifts in ministry. Johnson and Mittendorf share how they are discovering their gifts and how they put them in action.
Discovering vision—Another part of discernment is discovering your vision for the Church and how you fit into that vision. As United Methodists, we are called to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, not to just fill seats within the church. We need to be a sanctuary of Christian hope, love, and encouragement wherever we go.
Almost every United Methodist — lay and clergy – can point to a member of the church who inspired and influenced them at some point in their journey, perhaps who even encouraged them to consider a particular vocation or to pursue a gift. Help create a culture of call and reach out to others and invite them to discern their call. Here are some resources.
Discernment retreat— The discernment retreat is a one-day event for those who are feeling called to serve others. The retreat is for anyone in the local church who wants to explore their calling and find where their gifts are best suited to serve the local church or to more intentionally serve beyond the churches four walls to outside the church. Contact the Office of Leadership Development by e-mail or phone 605-990-7796 for more information.
Elisha internship— The Elisha Project is an internship program that allows the opportunity for students to explore, discern their call and discuss with mentors and peers where God is calling them. Students who have completed at least one year of college, completed the application process and selected by the Elisha committee will be assigned to a church and mentor. View Elisha intern profile videos here. Get more details here.
Called Retreat— The Called Retreat is a great way for youth to connect with others who are exploring their call and to learn more about ministry. Contact your local pastor or a district superintendent for more information.
Called: One Word, Many Ways —Visit Explore Calling website, from the General Board of Discipleship Ministries for lots of resources and ideas on creating a culture of call.
The Christian as Minister—An exploration into the meaning of God's call: This is 100-page book that is an introduction and explanation of the different types of ministry available for people considering God’s call to ministry in The United Methodist Church.