It’s hard enough being a college student. Many young adults are also exploring their call to ministry in the United Methodist Church—and they need your support.
Lewis Cox, an upcoming junior at Simpson, didn’t realize his call right away.
“I always thought that had to be a burning bush moment or God speaking through a thunderstorm, but that’s just not my story,” Cox said.
Instead, he saw a progressive call, noticing how his gifts, passions and talents best serve the church, and how the church, in turn, can best serve him.
Cox said the Annual Conference has been key in understanding the process of working out differences in the United Methodist faith, which makes it an important learning opportunity for someone exploring ministry as a calling.
Immense support is another crucial aspect to help young adults exploring ministry. Mara Bailey, the chaplain at Simpson, assists students in both formal and informal ways.
One formal program called “Exploring Ministry” provides support for people who are thinking about what it means to go into full-time professional ministry or whatever they do with their lives.
“Whether they are working in IT, a teacher, a cook or whatever they are doing with their life, that feels like a ministry to them,” Bailey said.
The program meets monthly for dinner and conversation, along with group and individual support, alumni support and internship opportunities.
Bailey said the Annual Conference helps by providing as much unending support as possible—everything from prayer and opportunities to engage in ministry, to anyone who’s been in the young adults’ footsteps.
“Whether that is a clergy standing in a pulpit every Sunday or a layperson in the church embracing that person and saying “I see God’s gift in you,” and naming those gifts and giving that person encouragement as they experience what it is like to live out that call,” Bailey said.
One of the most important things to note, according to Bailey, is that there are some things people in ministry have experienced but others who may be second-career pastors haven’t, which is important to keep in mind as people welcome young adults into ministry.
She said it’s also important to listen to the places where the young adults feel called to serve, whether it’s an urban or college setting—we should send them there, support them and equip them for those specific ministry fields.
“Encouragement is really, really important,” Bailey said. “I realize that the step to go to grad school then pursuing full-time ministry right away after college is a pretty significant one, so anything we can do, whether that’s financial support for our seminarians, I think is really important.”
Cox started the candidacy process and exploring seminary education opportunities as he continues his education at Simpson.
Hope Made Real
The Iowa Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church