Some years ago I wrote about Vocational Discernment as a vital piece of intentional discipleship. This is the ongoing conversation focused on the question: What is God calling you to do? (And what steps are you taking?)
Without a tailored conversation around each individual disciple’s unique shaping, gifting and calling by God, discipleship mentoring so often loses intensity in the following ways:
1. It gets lost climbing the asymptotic mountain of theoretical perfection. The trainee is measured up against a long list of ideals and spends huge energy trying to make 1% improvements towards an imagined ‘ideal Christian’ that God does not expect of any of us individually.
2. It wastes time and energy shaping the trainee into a body part they’re not made to be – often the part that the mentor is.
3. It gives a false impression of non-urgency where the trainee has their whole life to plod towards general ‘fitness’, rather than training for an event (or events) that God has entered you for in his great Games.
Years later I still passionately believe this. But I’ve come to see that Vocational Discernment is just as important for churches as it is for individuals.
Typically churches use the term vision to describe the bigger and future direction for a church. But I think vocation is better. It asks the question “What is God’s vision for this church?” “What has he put us here and called us together for?” It helps in the following ways:
1. It centres the process outside of ourselves, reminding ourselves that there can be a significant difference between what we’d like to do and what we ought to be doing.
2. It invites a uniqueness and contextualisation of ministry, rather than every church trying to be a replica of some other (often imagined) ‘successful’ church.
3. It lasts longer than the current leadership. Often in our churches there’s a new era and a new focus with each new pastor. But where a church knows its vocation, it has a reference point for the appointment of pastors and other leaders.
So what’s your vocation? And your church’s? And how do they intersect?
Andrew Turner is our Church Development Facilitator. You can interact with this and other articles on his blog sacredagents.net