This is the initial web page if you are thinking about what God may be asking of you and want to reflect on the range of ministries and learning opportunities that are available.
Called into life
Vocation shouldn’t begin too narrowly and certainly not just in terms of service in the church. The fact that we are alive at all is witness to God call and claim on the lives of every one of us. Our very life is meant to be a vocation of human flourishing. ‘The glory of God is a human being fully alive’. So wrote Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons in the second century. Whatever other distinctive vocation we may explore will always involve developing and exploring our humanity in relationship with others.
Vocation as life-choices
Vocation, moreover, involves appropriating creation values in our corporate life. This includes life-choices in food and energy consumption, fair trading, energy saving, reducing food miles, support of local farmers, care of the environment, including the disposal of waste. It also involves responsible citizenship and socio-political engagement in community, national and international interests.
Discipleship as vocation
The Christian’s primary vocation is discipleship to Jesus Christ. This is inclusive, total, lifelong and relational. For the Christian their work cannot be their vocation, their source of meaning and identity, for that would be to usurp the place of Christ and locate identity in role and achievement. But for those who spend most of their lives at work, work should be one of the ways in which Christian discipleship is expressed, provided, of course that the work itself is ethically responsible. The church has been slow at recognising and supporting people in work. However, Christian vocation should be expressed in a positive evaluation of work, a capacity to reflect theologically on it and to be prophetic as well as pastoral when this is appropriate.
Vocation and Ministry
All Christians have a potential ministry within and for the local or wider church, subject to a proper process of recognition, appointment and accountability. The process of recognition means that the church, often the local church, is the place where people should be encouraged to discover what gifts that have and what particular ministry they should be encouraged to explore. There needs to be honest and regular feedback as well as training and resourcing as people test out their gifts for ministry. There are a number of ways in which a person can serve the church on a full time paid basis as a lay person. There are ways too in which Christians work collaboratively in teams to provide ministry leadership, worship or nurture in the local church.
Whilst God’s guidance extends to all forms of work and many still view their work in vocational terms, it remains the case that for ordained ministry the essential and only requirement is a call by God, which must be attested and evidenced by others. The call is usually to priesthood as a way of being and necessarily full time and lifelong, rather than to a particular focus of ministry, as vicar, chaplain, OLM, MSE and so on which has the time conditions of a role. Ordained ministry is not, of course, a personal possession, but a ministry for and on behalf of others so as to develop the priestliness of the whole people of God.