Culture of Call (Romans 12, Issue 265)
Culture of Call
Before turning age twenty, Sarah Bohannon shared her heart from a church pulpit on at least twenty different occasions, beginning at age twelve. She is now on the home stretch of becoming a Certified Lay Minister and discerning a call into seminary.
Sarah explains, “I was timid and shy as a child; but when my father was diagnosed with cancer, I witnessed our new church family encircle my family, and I decided I wanted to show the same gentleness and caring to others in my life. I remember being surprised that the pastor would come visit us, tell jokes and hang out, even though we had attended there just a few months. It was personally inspiring and moving. That experience encouraged me to learn to share my heart from the pulpit through lay ministry, knowing that the church would always love and support me, regardless.”
Sarah attends Soules Chapel United Methodist Church in the north district of the Texas Annual Conference. Soules Chapel is a very rural congregation between Goat and Gopher Roads on FM556 near the town of Gilmer, Texas. The church’s webpage welcome proclaims, “It doesn't matter if you are in a suit or fresh from working on the farm, our doors are open to all people! We are a growing and vital congregation and we are always looking for more people to help us build God's Kingdom in the world around us.” This statement speaks of the culture of call built into the fabric of this congregation, and it is evident that Soules Chapel does not just make such a proclamation…the people live it!
Encouraged by her home congregation, Sarah engaged in training to become a Certified Lay Minister. Sarah and fifteen other individuals recently completed several modules in the Certified Lay Ministry training program offered by the Texas Annual Conference. “I consider these trainings to be an easy way to get deeper into ministry,” adds Sarah, who is currently studying political science at Texas A&M/Commerce campus. “In the Saturday modules, we learn things like how to prepare to serve various kinds of congregations, how to prepare a sermon outline, how to offer pastoral care. I plan to do a year of missions work after I graduate to test my calling,” she adds, “but right now I hope to attend seminary and someday be an elder.”
Soules Chapel UMC is making a difference in “developing principled Christian leaders for the church and the world” (Four Areas of Focus—The United Methodist Church)because they take seriously the importance of building a culture of call into a congregation, even a very rural one such as theirs.
April Canik, Anna Rohde, and Jodi Cataldo contributed to this article.
Questions for Reflection and Discussion
- What is a "culture of call" and who is “called”?
- Why is it important for to build a "culture of call" into a congregation?
- How is your congregation living out a "culture of call"?
Produced by Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church to communicate effective principles and practices demonstrated by congregations that are actively making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
These congregations are marked by:
- Clarity around the mission and vision of the congregation.
- Practice of spiritual disciplines, both corporately and individually.
- Nurture in growth in discipleship through mutual support and accountability.
- Cultivation of intentional and mutual relationships with the most vulnerable—the poor, children, the imprisoned, the powerless.
- Consistent concern for inviting people into relationship with Jesus Christ, combined with wise practices for initiating them into the body of Christ.
- Connectional relationships that facilitate participation in God’s mission of global transformation.
- Shared clergy and lay leadership.
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