‘We want people to experience call in a more meaningful way’ —Chuck Nordean
Beginning in May, the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry (BOOM) is introducing new strategies to encourage people to listen for and respond to God’s call on their lives, especially the call to ordained ministry.
Ministerial Recruitment Month will be observed every May, starting this year. The board is encouraging every church to take action.
That month, churches are asked to be intentional in finding ways during worship and through special events to emphasize the importance of hearing God’s call.
Sample worship bulletin inserts will be provided by the BOOM Ministerial Recruitment Subcommittee. Pastors are urged to talk with persons who express interest in the clergy path of serving God.
A next step is inviting those who sense God’s call to attend the Ordination Service on May 28 during Annual Conference. That evening, Bishop Robert Hayes Jr. will offer an invitation to ministry as part of the worship celebration.
"We want people to experience call in a more meaningful way," said Chuck Nordean, director of Clergy and Congregational Development for the Oklahoma Conference.
This annual service is a high holy moment in Church life. Although their attendance is not required, persons considering clergy careers will find it both inspirational and informative. And they will receive materials useful for discernment, including the book "The Christian as Minister, An Exploration into the Meaning of God’s Call."
In September, a one-day retreat will gather all who respond to the bishop’s invitation into ministry, as well as others who are interested in ordained ministry. They will meet Sept. 6 at OKC-First Church.
At this "Candidate for Ministry Retreat," each participant will have the opportunity to join a district mentoring group. Two trained mentors in each district will lead candidates through a six-month group process, aimed at preparing them for certification for ministry by March 15, 2015.
"We get calls all the time about the process. We want it to be a learning experience," said Rev. Nordean, "instead of a bunch of check marks."
Group mentoring of clergy candidates replaces the current one-to-one method in the Oklahoma Conference.
The 2012 General Conference mandated that, wherever possible, group mentoring become part of what each annual conference offers (paragraph 349.A, United Methodist Book of Discipline). Some other annual conferences already have implemented this.
National church consultant Lovett Weems has been helpful to the Oklahoma leaders, Nordean said.
Nordean believes the group mentoring approach will shorten the length of the ministerial candidacy process.
"We believe the relationships and accountability established with mentoring teams will urge them on," he said.
Ray Crawford further explained this new strategy. He chairs BOOM’s candidacy committee and is senior pastor at Claremore-First Church.
He said the plan is an attempt to:
• Encourage the church to be intentional in extending the call to ordained ministry;
• Present a more well-defined gateway for candidacy, as well as a clear process;
• Utilize the powerful dynamics of group process and conversation for discernment;
• Promote ongoing mentor training, with fewer mentors needed;
• Encourage greater accountability between mentors and candidates;
• Allow easier tracking of candidates and their progress; and
• Allow candidates to complete the requirements for certification within about one-half year.
"Our prayer is that we can assist God’s people in hearing, and responding to, the call to ordained ministry in the UM church," Rev. Crawford said.
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