Exploring the Call
Is God Calling You to Ministry in The United Methodist Church? All Christians are ministers by virtue of their baptism, but many people feel called by God to a special kind of set-apart ministry. The United Methodist Church offers many different ways to serve. If God is calling you, you may feel a strong urging or encouragement to consider full-time ministry during a prayer service or communion. Perhaps you are a teenager who felt filled with God’s presence at a church camp. Or while on a mission trip or church retreat, you sense that God seems to be inviting you to consider ministry. Maybe people at your church are always telling you they see gifts for ministry in you.
How do I know if I am called?
To learn more about how to discern God’s call in your life and what steps to take if you are called, visit www.explorecalling.org. You will find resources to help you decide how God is calling you, scripture, and Bible studies, as well as recommendations for devotional books that can help you. You will find information specifically for college students and information about seminaries.
You should also read The Christian As Minister: An Exploration Into the Meaning of God’s Call. Order now.
What kind of ministry is right for me?
Those who are ordained are set apart for ministry not only in a single location but across the church. Elders lead God’s people to grow in faith and most serve as pastors in charge of local congregations, although elders can also serve in ways that extend the church’s ministry into the community. Those include serving as chaplains, teaching, or pastoral counseling.
Deacons lead God’s people into ministry to the world, usually through specialized ministry. Some deacons serve in churches in roles such as ministers of Christian education or music. Many serve beyond the local church, in settings such as social service, education, health, or policy advocacy organizations. To learn more about what a deacon does and how to become an ordained deacon, visit www.gbhem.org/deacons.
I think God is calling me, but I don’t have the time or money for seminary.
You may believe God is calling you to be a parish pastor -– to focus on leading the people in your place of ministry. You may not be willing to make a commitment to three years of graduate education or the itinerant ministry of moving when and where the bishop determines.
Becoming a licensed local pastor – either part time or full time – might be the path for you.
You can become a local pastor by pursuing theological education through an approved seminary or in the Course of Study. To learn more about the role of a local pastor, licensing schools, and the Course of Study, visit www.gbhem.org/localpastor.
I know God is calling me to ministry, but not to a congregation.
Deacons serve within local churches or in jobs beyond the local church, such as working for a nonprofit agency. Chaplains and pastoral counselors are elders or deacons who engage in ministries of pastoral care in specialized settings such as prisons, hospitals, the armed forces, or counseling centers. Elders can serve in extension ministries outside the church if their bishop agrees.
To learn more chaplains and pastoral counselors, visit www.gbhem.org/chaplains. Visit www.gbhem.org/deacons and www.gbhem.org/localpastors to learn more about how those clergy serve The United Methodist Church.