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Discerning God’s Call to Ministry ~ Adults

Who am I?

Why am I here?

What am I doing about it?

* Some ways to think about ministry and answering the questions of life…inspired by the Presiding Bishop’s article for Episcopal Life
entitled “Three Questions for Mission.”

Ministry in our daily lives

Q. Who are the ministers of the Church?

A. The ministers of the Church are lay persons, bishops, priests and deacons.

Q. What is the ministry of the laity?

A. The ministry of lay persons is to represent Christ and his Church; to bear witness to him wherever they may be; and, according to the gifts given them, to carry on Christ’s work of reconciliation in the world; and to take their place in the life, worship and governance of the Church.
(from the Catechism in The Book of Common Prayer).

How many of us actually think of ourselves as ministers in the church? Isn’t ministry just for those who are ordained? On the contrary, God has given each of us unique personalities, abilities and talents. As baptized Christians, we all are called by God to use these gifts in ministry in our daily lives. We can serve God and others at home, at church, at work, and in our communities. In addition, some of us have a secondary call– to ordained ministry in the church.

The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Frederick Buechner

What is discernment?

Discernment is discovering God’s will for us. This is an ongoing process that continues throughout our lives.

How do we discern our gifts?

  • Listen for God’s guidance by praying, meditating, and reading Holy Scripture.
  • Look for clues in our lives.
  • Pay attention when others point out our gifts.
  • Notice which activities, accomplishments, and interactions bring us joy. “… the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
  • Complete a written inventory of gifts.  (See resources)
  • Be open to discovering potential gifts by trying something new.

Selected resources

  • The Book of Common Prayer, The Baptismal Covenant, pp. 304-305.
  • Lloyd Edwards, Discerning Your Spiritual Gifts (Cambridge, MA: Cowley, 1988).
  • Suzanne Farnham, Joseph Gill, Taylor McLean, and Susan Ward, Listening Hearts: Discerning Call in Community (Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse, rev.
    ed. 2001).
  • Debra K. Farrington, Hearing with the Heart: A Gentle Guide for Discerning God’s Will for Your Life (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2003).
  • Linda L. Grenz and J. Fletcher Lowe, Jr., Ministry in Daily Life: A Guide to Living the Baptismal Covenant: The Publication.
  • The Episcopal Church Ministry Pages
  • Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2000).
  • Caroline Westerhoff, Calling: A Song for the Baptized (Boston, MA: Cowley, 1994).
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church in America – Assessment, List of Gifts, Scripture References, List of Ministries: click here
  • United Methodist Church – Explore spiritual gifts, online gifts assessment http://www.umc.org/  Keyword: Spiritual Gifts
  • Presbyterian Church, USA – Ideas and resources for recognizing lay ministries:  www.pcusa.org/christianvocation

Scripture for meditation

As each has received a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace…(I Peter 4:10)

The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-12)

See also:  Romans 12:4-8; I Corinthians 12:4-31; I Corinthians 14:1-19

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