God’s call can come in any number of ways. Discover the variety of Church roles.
You may find the following prayers and testimonies helpful when thinking about God’s call for you.
I know you love me and have plans for me. But sometimes I am overwhelmed by the thought of my future.
Show me how to walk forward one day at a time.
May I take heart while I search openly, learn all about the choices, listen to others for advice, and pay attention to my own feelings.
By doing these things, may I hear your call to live a life that will let me love as only I can, and allow me to serve others with the special gifts you have given me.
I ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Testimony: Foloronso OlokoseIf God says yes, who can say no?
At primary school I served as an altar boy, serving candles, etc. The priest said to me “You are very good and calm. You could be a priest one day”. Looking back, that was my first encounter with calling.
At the time it didn’t make sense, my idea of a priest was of an old man. People would complain when the priest came. “Why is he coming now? He should just come on a Sunday!” A priest was somebody important, but when he left people would also say “Thank God he’s gone…” So of course this was not what I wanted for my life.
At university I continued to attend church, my home church as my university was in the town I grew up in. I became a youth leader, so I was really involved.
We had a drama competition between churches every year. I was always picked to play the priest! People would remark “You’re a good priest” but to me I was just playing the role.
I never truly reflected on what it meant until the priest at my church came to me in my final year of university and said he had a gift for me. He gave me a form to go to theology college! I looked at the form, but having studied for so long I was not going to study more, and definitely not theology. So I responded “No, that’s not for me”.
After working for the YMCA, I decided actually I did want to study more, but still not theology. I moved to France to pursue a Masters. It was there I met my wife.
I was looking for an English-speaking church, eventually finding an Anglican church with a style reminiscent of what I had experienced in the Methodist Church in Nigeria.
They needed a Sunday school teacher, and asked me. I also served on the church council and started to lead worship. One time I was asked to pray before a meeting, afterwards the leader replied, “That was a lovely, lovely prayer”. That was the start of our relationship. I thank him a lot, if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be doing this. He put a lot of time and energy into nurturing me, advising, exploring my vocation with me.
I was newly-married, my wife is Catholic with a full-time job in France, but now I knew I wanted to be an Anglican priest! When I told my wife though she remarked “I knew when I met you that one day you would become a priest”.
I was sent by the Diocese in Europe to train at Trinity in Bristol. My training involved working in a local church. I got to do ministry, but also be part of church life. We made friends there.
I recently completed my curacy in St Andrews in Cobham, and I’m now the vicar at St Mary Oatlands. I would say that if people think God is calling them, they should explore it. There is no harm in exploring. Always remember, if God says yes, who can say no?
Being a priest is interesting but also challenging. Baptisms are what most make me rejoice, as well as just being there for the community. In our society there are great riches but also a lot of suffering behind closed doors.
It is challenging, but I like challenges. You need to love and they need to love you back. That’s when you can do ministry.
I abandon myself into your hands. Do with me whatever you will. Whatever you may do I thank you. I am ready for all, I accept all. Let only your will be done in me and all your creatures. I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul. I offer it to you with all the love of my heart. For I love you Lord and so need to give myself, surrender myself into your hands without reserve and with boundless confidence. For you are my Father.
Charles de Foucauld
Testimony: Vanessa Hadley-SpencerLearning to Trust God
I became Christian through Guiding. I was actually in the midst of university applications and thinking “How do I get my application better?” So I became a guide leader. Our unit was affiliated with the church and it was through church parade at seventeen that I decided I wanted to start going to church myself.
I joined the choir, and got used to being up front, taking an active part in the worship. It was more than just singing for me.
I started doing more in the wider church, contributing to church life, and that sense of spiralling involvement, coupled with some sermons on calling, and a sort of nagging feeling, that led up to a sense of God calling me.
One day my vicar announced he was moving on, and something within me just went “You’ve got to tell him before it is too late”. That tipped it. So after Evensong that day I told him I felt called to ministry.
He was absolutely supportive from the get go, and gave me the vocations adviser’s number. They introduced me to other young people, which helped us all to realise it is quite normal for young people to experience calling. You’re not the only one thinking about ministry. It’s really encouraging to have conversations with others who understand what you’re talking about and don’t think you’re mad.
After graduating, I did a church placement, only I didn’t last the year. In fact I only lasted four months. I went back into secular work, agency, and then paralegal, but the sense of call didn’t go away (as it doesn’t).
I resurfaced in church and was invited to get involved in the Church of England’s Ministry Experience Scheme. It was a really formative year for me. I got to see and do so much, really got to live out my calling, and I was affirmed at every stage. It was a really important part of my journey.
First-hand experience of what life in ministry is like is what made it special. I was in a dual role as well, I had parish and chaplaincy, which was really interesting. I developed a real understanding of the costs and realities of ministry, because you’ve fully immersed yourself in it and fully given yourself in the same way that you would if you were training or entering ministry. It’s your life and your work now. It’s not something you can get elsewhere.
I found preparing for selection stressful. I was getting very nervous because I’d put so much into it, but excited as well. I was well prepared and just trusting God the whole time. I’d got used to living in the maybe and the sense of openness to it, and God steering it and how it would work, and letting God sort things out rather than trying to drive it myself. Trusting God had started to happen.
Selection is the strangest interview you’ll ever have! There’s no quota, there’s no sense of you being set against each other. You’re just all there, all questioning, all seeking, all exploring, so it’s actually quite special. The other people were lovely and we all helped each other at different times. It was nerve-wracking, but I relaxed towards the end of it and actually it was OK.
When my letter arrived I instinctively thought “It’s too thin, there’s no way it’s a yes”. I opened it up and saw something about ordination training and the words “recommended for training”. The funniest part is that I left the envelope on the side and then went out so my poor housemates didn’t know what it said until the evening!
My advice to anyone exploring their vocation is to trust God. The biggest thing I learnt from my journey was trust, learning to trust. Not being afraid. Not coming up with all the reasons why not but opening yourself to it. If people are thinking about it or exploring it, I’d say go for it. You don’t have to be ready now, you don’t have to be perfect.
Lord, you call us to be story tellers: planting your explosive news into our defended lives; locating us in the script of your human history.
You call us to be trailblazers: living in your future that we receive only as gift; subverting the fixed, fated world of low horizons.
You call us to be weavers: tracing, stretching, connecting the knotted threads; gathering up unravelling, disconnected lives.
You call us to be fools – for Christ’s sake: bearing life’s absurdities and incongruities; puncturing our seriousness and grandiosity.
You call us to be hosts: welcomers of the sacred, intimate, transfiguring; lavish celebrants of our communities and homecomings.
You call us to be poets: artists and illuminators of inner space; naming, invoking, heralding your ineffable presence.
You call us to be gardeners: sowers, cultivators, nurturers of fragile lives; benefactors of your gratuitous harvest.
You call us to be conductors: celebrating polyphony, coaxing symphony; orchestrating the praise of your inhabited creation.
Lord, you lavish your gifts on all whom you call. Strengthen and sustain us and all ministers of your church, that in the range and diversity of our vocation, we may be catalysts of your kingdom in the world, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Testimony: John NaudéThere is nothing better than serving God, in whatever form
I believe God calls a whole variety of people to serve him in ministry, demonstrated so clearly in the description of the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). Whether we are called to serve as a priest or any other member of the church, we each have a part to play.
I didn’t respond well to God’s calling on my life. I felt it was a rather silly idea! As a wheelchair user I was expecting a lot of negative perceptions as to whether I could fulfil the calling I had. My disability is one part of what makes me who I am, but it isn’t the only thing that defines me. I bring all of me into ministry, not just my disability. We need each and every member to play their role in God’s church.
I was ordained in 1996. My Diocesan Director of Ordinands was brilliant. He said, “If God is calling you to be ordained, then it was the role of the diocese to enable that to happen”. None of the process was negative regarding the way people responded to my disability, indeed I think if anyone had said anything negative I would have been happy to call it a day. But God had other ideas!
When I mentioned I felt called by God into ordination the response was “if God is calling you then it is the best job in the world, but if he isn’t then it is the worst job in the world”.
The main struggle I had was more to do with finding an accessible theological college. At the time the choice was very limited. Nonetheless I found the experience a really exciting and challenging time, during which I was able to start looking at a biblical message of disability.
If there is anyone who is considering whether God is calling them towards ordination I would encourage them to pursue it. It may not lead to ordination, but God reveals himself through the process towards whatever he is calling us to. There is nothing better than serving God in whatever form it may be.
Testimony: Lizzie LowrieGod can surprise you
I grew up going to church on and off. I had some sort of faith, then I spent a year in Bolivia with Latin Link, working with children who live in prisons with their parents. It was there my faith became more real. I think partly it was being around Christians who were radical, they had given up so much to be there, but also the Christian Bolivians who had very little but were still part of the projects we were working on.
Seeing God move and answer prayers gave me peace about the things I was scared of. I found myself becoming at peace with myself. It gave me a real God-given confidence.
I studied Spanish and Italian at university, and was involved in some very small churches in Spain and Italy. They were inspiring congregations to be a part of. We would pray together and I saw answers to prayer.
One day I received an email forwarded to me by a friend in Chester who wanted to set up a café to connect with people who weren’t interested in coming to church. The idea was to create a new place for them to explore faith. I went up to Chester, we talked, and shared ideas for how it could work.
A year later and our café was a reality. Another six months and we got engaged!
We were having faith conversations with people who would never normally walk into a church. When you plan to start something God can surprise you. We ended up working a lot with Alcoholics Anonymous – we were open in the evenings and didn’t sell alcohol. We even had a couple of wedding receptions for guys from AA.
Recently I’ve become a Local Missionary Leader, a lay pioneer. My role is to connect with young people who don’t go to church. We moved to Liverpool and opened a café and bakery in Crosby village. We wanted to create a hospitable place for the whole community, and one in which they would be able to explore life, faith, meaning, and purpose.
All our staff are employed as Barista-Evangelists, so part of their job is to tell people about Jesus as well as making quality coffee. We have a Baker-Evangelist too!
We host a story time session for young parents, and a space for people who work from home. We’ve started to meet as church on Sunday afternoons – a lot of the people who we originally hosted in a house group have become Christians but don’t feel at home in traditional church settings. So we’re helping people learn about corporate worship and prayer.
It’s a real privilege to see it shape up. We’re passionate about exploring what Church can look like for people who aren’t yet involved.
Bible studies and further reading
You might like to use the following bible studies, either alone or in a small group, to help you explore the concepts of calling and vocation. Delve into our reading list for more on discerning your vocation.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.”Romans 12:2