A year and a half ago, I was asked to serve on a Design Team for Exploration 2011. I quickly said yes, as I was excited to be a part of an experience that will be a “spiritual marker” for some who attend. Exploration is an “event” (though it seems shallow to call it that—it is more than an “event,” it is potentially an encounter with the Living God in discerning what may be a call to ministry) for people aged 18-26 to explore what it means to be called to ministry, specially related to ordination as a deacon or elder in the United Methodist Church. Representatives from the 13 United Methodist Seminaries will be there, along with leaders who can articulate various important aspects of ministry.
I attended Exploration 1996, which seems like a lifetime ago. It was the first time that I understood what ordination was and was particularly interested in the new order of the deacon (which I would be ordained as in 2010). I honestly don’t remember many of the details that happened at the event, but I do know that I left that “event” being confident that God had called me to something, even if I didn’t know all of the details. I look back on that time and realize that it truly was a “spiritual marker” of sorts, as much for setting aside the time to go, but also for verbalizing to others that I had a call to ministry. (I wrote more in detail about that here).
Exploration is a time to set aside the other things on the schedule to listen: to others who are sensing a call to ministry, to the equipping opportunities for ministry, but most importantly to listen to God. This fall, on 11/11/11, hundreds will gather in St. Louis, and even as the final preparations are approaching, I would love to invite you to pray with me. The things that I’m praying for in the days ahead are:
- People registering—that God would bring people who are open to the work that God may want to do in their lives
- Speakers and workshop leaders—that they would articulate what it means to live out one’s call to ministry
- Churches and Campus Ministries who are “sending” people—that they would nurture the call of ministry well before Exploration and upon return home
The theme for this year is “Passion and Possibilities” and we are eagerly anticipating all that God will do in the lives of those in attendance. I work with college students in campus ministry, in fact, 8 of my students will be joining me in St. Louis this year. They are full of both passion and possibilities. I am excited for all that God has in store in the days ahead. And I’m grateful for your prayers joining in for this “event.”