Are you seeking meaningful work? Do you want to make a difference in people’s lives? Do you have gifts for leadership? What about a desire for spiritual contemplation, higher education, and social justice initiatives? A career in ministry may be right for you!
If you are contemplating ministry leadership, please download the Candidacy Pathway: Roadmap below to learn about the steps you will need to take. This resource is your best starting point.
Reviewing the Streams of Ministry video is a mandatory requirement of the Candidacy Pathway.
Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray. ―Rumi
General Resources for Discernment
In The United Church of Canada, we encourage all people to be lifelong learners and discerners of God’s call. All believers have a vocation, mission, or purpose. It is important to discern where God is calling you next. The resources below can be used by all believers or those specifically considering whether they are called to ministry leadership.
How Do I Start Discerning?
You already are! If you are exploring this site, you have already begun discerning. The following suggestions will help you focus and deepen your exploration:
- Capture your insights: Keep track of your insights in a notebook or journal throughout your intentional time of discernment.
- Clarify your thinking: Reviewing the resources that follow will help inform your discernment journey by building on what you have already learned about your call.
Pray, Contemplate, and Create
Here’s where to start your discernment. You may engage in a personal prayer practice. You may want to offer written prayers that have been constructed by others.
Prayer is also expressed in many forms. Journal, write a reflection, draw, sing, paint, play, find, practice, walk, or rediscover a creative outlet that allows you to connect with God. Depending on what you’ve been up to, you may have lost touch with your creative side. Or you may be well aware of how engaging your creative side can free up your imagination to wonder and truly understand what might be possible. Through a creative process, you might even be able to understand what God is calling you to next.
Explore Your Spiritual Gifts
- David Ewart’s Spirit Given Gifts questionnaire.
- Gifted 2 Serve: from Andrew Kulp, a Baptist ministry consultant
- Spiritual Gifts Discernment Process: an Episcopalian resource
- Spiritual Gifts Test: a United Methodist resource
Read and Reflect
Reflect on biblical stories about call:
- 1 Samuel 3: Samuel is called by God, helped by Eli
- Matthew 4:18-22: Jesus calls fishers to follow him
- John 4:1-2: the Samaritan woman at the well spreads God’s Word in an unexpected place
Read a book about Vocation or Ministry Leadership:
- Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation, Parker Palmer (2000)
- Pastor: A Reader for Ordained Ministry, William H. Willimon (2002)
- This Odd and Wondrous Calling: The Public and Private Lives of Two Ministers, Lillian Daniel and Martin B. Copenhaver (2009)
Learn about The United Church of Canada:
- A Church with the Soul of a Nation: Making and Remaking The United Church of Canada, Phyllis D. Airhart (2013)
- The Theology of The United Church of Canada, Don Schweitzer, Robert C. Fennell, and Michael Bourgeois, eds. (2019)
- The United Church of Canada: A History, Don Schweitzer (2011)
- This United Church of Ours, Ralph Milton (2007)
Learn more about the United Church’s understanding of leadership in the Statement on Ministry (2012), which is available for download below.
Maybe get a group of church members together to discuss what faith means to them.
What do other people say about their faith? About their call to ministry? Why do they attend church? Why do they give? Where do they see the church going in the future? How could you be a part of that?
Discuss with others what it means to be called.
What is this churchy language and how do we really understand a call to leadership and ministry?
- Participate in our God's World Needs Leaders Facebook group.
- Learn how some United Church ministers experienced their call in a variety of experiences, paths, and ministries.
- Go to the Entering Ministry YouTube channel to watch stories of people who have followed a call to leadership in the church
- Volunteer to read scripture in worship, co-lead a faith formation group with a minister or experienced layperson, or organize a food drive.
Discernment retreats focus on helping participants discern their call to ministry. Some participants may have a vague feeling that they want to offer more leadership within the church while others might be certain about and excited to begin their journey to becoming ministry personnel. These retreats include spiritual practices, biblical reflection, and Candidacy Pathway information that will help participants at any stage of their journey engage with discerning their call. If you are considering entering ministry, these retreats are not mandatory to begin Candidacy Pathway, but they do come highly recommended by leaders and previous participants.
- Check out the Vocations worship theme for prayers, sermon starters, and biblical reflections.
- Ask your minister to lead a worship service that focuses on vocation. Better yet, ask if you can plan it with your minister or worship team.
When you have read, created, explored, talked, listened, prayed, and more, take a moment to just breathe. Whether you are an introvert, an extrovert, type A, laid back, busy, quiet, younger, older, considering a major shift or a minor adjustment, find a moment where you can be still.
Be still and know that I am God. –Psalm 46:10