In November of last year I came to the realization that I was called to ministry. I had been fighting this call for quite some time and it wasn’t until I got plugged in with my church on the inside that I was able to hear what I think God was trying to tell me. So, because I am pretty type-A, I started asking questions. I started looking into ministry and figuring out what ministry as vocation was. I wanted to know how people survived on ministry incomes – being that I will have to take a serious pay cut to “give up” packaging. I had a lot of questions and not a ton of answers. I told my pastor about this call I thought I’d received and she began directing me to resources that would help me figure it out. While she provided a ton of insight I couldn’t have figured out on my own, I wanted to know more.
When I returned for classes the next semester, my pastor and I began meeting about once a month over gnocchi (which is delicious) where more and more questions seemed to rise. “I’m totally not a Bible scholar, should I be already?” “With the itineracy, what happens if you want to move?” “I’m not very good at feelings, is that a big deal?” I didn’t really know what to do with myself and my lack of knowledge.
On the second day that I was in Denver, CO while on a mission trip with my college ministry, I received a Facebook message. The pastor from a local church in my home town offered me an opportunity to join her (super cool) staff team for the summer as I figured this ministry thing out. Talk about convenient timing and an open door. (For this next part, you should know that because I am a packaging science major, I am required to complete a 15-week co-op in order to graduate. Most people take off an entire semester to do this, but most people is not really my style. I was offered a job that would satisfy that requirement but I took a huge leap of faith and turned it down to go work for this church.) The summer taught me a lot of different things. I learned that ministry isn’t always easy. It takes a lot more than a sermon outline to prepare for a Sunday morning worship service – especially when working with a portable church! In fact, sermons themselves aren’t the easiest to write, either. I learned how to work with people who are different than I am and who sometimes have different ideas for doing things. But most importantly, I learned that everything planned at the table is for the people who are to be shown grace and love. It’s for the people who come every Sunday AND for the skeptics who may only walk through the doors a single time. From where those who welcome people stand to those who volunteer to serve food out of a food truck in the heat of a South Carolina summer, ministry is planned for the people: churched and unchurched.
My time at Ashley Ridge Church was short lived, yet full of such meaningful experiences I wouldn’t give up for anything. It was through those experiences that I was so frequently able to affirm my call to ministry and my desire to lead those who will go into the world to love and serve others. I met some amazing people, accomplished telling goals, and was encouraged by the congregation to keep moving forward. I am so incredible thankful for the opportunity to serve with the ministries at ARC and hope that the next door I go through helps me grow a little more, love a little more, and keep building meaningful, sustainable relationships that encourage and thrive.
I returned to school to start my co-op hiring process for the spring semester. I felt defeated. I would have to take the six months that I was repulsed by. Then it hit me. There was a family at the church this past summer who owns a packaging company. I contacted them and by the grace of God I was offered a summer co-op assignment that fulfills the requirements I need. The possibility of ministry seemed so far away and is now just around the bend. A door was opened and I ran through it.
My plans are far from concrete and are still far away from being written down, but I know that great things are ahead. One day I will figure this ministry thing out. Theology, polity, denomination, and all. One day I’ll be able to help someone else who is my current situation. Until then, life can only be taken one prayer at a time, one day at a time, and one door at a time.