God's call to ministry : Does God want me to be a Presbyterian Minister??

Hearing and testing God's call to ministry

The Church wants to help people find what God wants them to do in life - not everyone finds this easy.

God's call

God's call is first of all to follow Christ and be the person God intended us to be. A committed Christian faith means developing our capacity to exercise responsible ministry in our church and in the community. For some this may involve employment by the church, for most it does not. Some employed ministry in the church involves ordination to the ministry of word and sacrament. Others are called to the ordained eldership or to different leadership and administrative recognised ministries important for the worship and mission of the congregation. Some elders and others may be called to be members of Local Ministry Teams. For some God's call may lead us to service in global mission.

Sorting out what we are meant to be doing takes time

It involves consulting those who know us well and who have practical knowledge of what is involved. This is especially true if our sense of call takes us in the direction of working for a church or mission agency. Spiritual direction is a way to help us hear more clearly what God is saying to us.

Those who are sensing that God may be calling them to local or national ordained ministry in the Presbyterian Church also need to be willing to test their sense of call against the judgement of the Church. Assessment by the Presbytery and also by the national church through National Assessment for those looking to national ordained ministry is an important part of that discernment process. It is a process when we further test where we believe God is taking us and where the Church both stands with us and comes to its own decision.

This can be a hard thing to do, but it is essential if there is to be mutual confidence that this is the way ahead. There will be many more difficult issues to face than this! Some people need encouragement to recognise a call that they are uncertain about. Some are confident.

It may seem discouraging, but there is no guarantee that those who feel called will have that call recognised and accepted. It is even possible to go right through training and not find a parish or other position. It is up to a parish to decide who it wants. The Presbyterian Church has no power to require parishes to take people.

All churches have to deal with people who explore ordained ministry as an option, and who are not accepted. Nobody sets out on this path lightly and many find it difficult to come to terms with the situation when the Church does not believe that a particular ministry track is for them.

This should not be seen as a matter of rationalist rejection of a spiritual call - God does call people. The church has a responsibility for  spiritual discernment which takes into account a person's record of church involvement, their skills with people and their ability to handle the study required. It is also important to realise that while God may be calling you to ministry - after all, all Christians are ministers in some sense - it may not necessarily be to this particular role in the Church.

Developing a gift of discernment and the practical tools of knowing and responding to God's guidance is one of the most important things we can cultivate. A decision about ministry role is one important decision requiring prayer and guidance, but it is not the only one. The need to know and do God's will is ongoing.

Testing a call to Christian leadership includes working through factors such as the following:

A note about Ordination

Sometimes people are concerned about ordination and what it means. It is important to discuss this and other issues you may be worried about. You are not the only one to ask questions, but there are a couple of things to remember:

Where next?

Talk to your minister. Ask to get in touch with the Student Convenor of your Presbytery. Check out information on the Presbyterian website. Be prepared to take some time to work this through. Keep looking for opportunities of service where you are now.

John Roxborogh