By Rev. Darin Arntson, Associate Director of Leadership of the California-Pacific Conference of The United Methodist Church
I am excited to focus on the launch of a new initiative to increase the conversation about “calling” in the local churches and communities of our Annual Conference. Funded by a Young Clergy Initiative grant from the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, Called Out – Set Apart is designed to nurture young people, especially, in listening for, discerning, and responding to their unique calling in and through the body of Christ.
What We Know: Most often, we use the term “calling” only when speaking about vocational ministry. This project aims to help clarify for our young people what the calling to set apart servant leadership in the Church looks, sounds, and feels like. To do so, we will create small group experiences, story-telling opportunities, and intentional pathways for communication with those who are growing in discernment toward ordained ministry.
However, we also know that each of us is called by God in our baptism to a unique service of discipleship and the transformation of the world. Through more generalized yet culturally-intentional resources for worship services as well as small-group, class, or retreat settings, we intend to inspire a broader conversation within local churches and communities about the infinitely varied ways God calls us and uses us to bring Gospel hope to the world.
What We Wish: To borrow a phrase from a respected colleague, we wish to “meet [people] in their passion place” through this reintroduction to language and symbols and narratives of call. We wish for this work to enliven a sense of purpose and hope for our collective ministry to love and serve our neighbors. We also wish for our young people, especially, to find in it nurture in our tradition of listening for, discerning, and following the paths — charted or uncharted — of leadership and service to which they feel called.
What We Need: Partners, lots of partners. If this inspires a sense of energy and motivation in you, we’d love to hear from you! Your leadership could take many forms, from participating in conversations identifying our cultural diversity around “calling” that will inform the creation of our resources, to committing to be an “early adopter,” implementing curriculum or worship resources with your local community. Maybe it will be through a response to your own call to listen to and mentor young people as they do the hard work of discernment, or simply following our pending social media presence and highlighting inspiring call-stories within your own networks.
The time is now to step into God’s current of transforming Christian leaders.