Do you want to serve your own church or others in a more intentional way? Are you ready to explore how God is calling you to use your gifts?
In January 2015, a Lay Ministry Action Team launched within the Minnesota Conference. The team has designed opportunities for laity to become equipped to serve their own church, other churches, and/or the conference in deeper ways. There are three types of certification that laity can pursue through this avenue, and training sessions for each one are offered throughout the year.
The starting point for all three types of certification is a one-day Ministry Discernment Retreat, and two such retreats are coming up, one on Saturday, Jan. 23 and another on Saturday, Feb. 6. Each event is offered in multiple locations across Minnesota and the Dakotas.
“I participated in the ministry discernment retreat,” said Randy Meissner from Mandan UMC in Mandan, North Dakota. “I had an absolutely wonderful time. It is very affirming to find out what your spiritual gifts are and to know this is my purpose and why God put me on the earth.”
Rev. Steve Trefz, the Minnesota Conference’s equipper of lay servant ministries, answered some questions about Ministry Discernment Retreats and what they’re all about. Check out this Q&A, and then register for the January retreat or the February retreat.
What is a Ministry Discernment Retreat?
“A Ministry Discernment Retreat is a one-day event for folks who are feeling a call or a nudge to serve in ministry to others. It serves as the entry point into various credentialing opportunities in The United Methodist Church, so it’s a great ‘first step’ into what God is calling you to do in the next three to five years (or perhaps more!). It’s also a great way to connect with people from surrounding United Methodist churches who have similar calls. Participants are under no obligation to move forward in any particular track of leadership in the UMC, but they could once the day is complete.”
Who should come to a Ministry Discernment Retreat?
“Anyone who is already in leadership in their local church who might be feeling that the area they currently serve in is not where God desires them to be in the near future, or anyone who already serves but wants to serve more intentionally in that role. Also, anyone who is new to The United Methodist Church or new to ministry leadership in the UMC who wants to learn the basic aspects of the way we follow Jesus through using our gifts for ministry. “
What happens at the retreat?
“Participants arrive around 9:30 a.m. and join together in a facilitated Bible and small group study. Next, they will take a spiritual gifts inventory and discuss the results together by looking through pictures that each participant has brought to the retreat. The afternoon session will put those gifts into context, as participants discern how their gifts match up with the opportunities God has for them in their communities.”
Why should someone attend?
“Because intentionally and prayerfully discerning your call together with brothers and sisters in Christ not only helps amplify your calling, but builds upon the ideas and opportunities from other places. Folks have learned new approaches to ministry that they can then utilize in their local church. Others have expressed the Holy Spirit’s presence in naming how their gifts became clear in a whole new way. Bringing a friend from church is the best way to attend because you can then continue the discernment on the drive home, and you can have some help in implementing all that you learned in your own local setting.”
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church