Did you ever play that game where someone identifies an object or location and then you move in various directions while they communicate back to you “you’re getting warmer” or “you’re getting colder”?
Finding purpose, meaning, and our call has some similarities. We step out in a direction, and life gives us feedback. Is my energy growing or declining? Am I cultivating the fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? Am I getting the whispers, or perhaps shouts, from God that I’m cold, colder, frozen? Or maybe it’s, warm, warmer, hot!
Parker Palmer, author of “Let Your Life Speak,” asks the question: “Is the life I am living the same as the life that wants to live in me?”
Eighteen people spent the weekend of Oct. 13-15 at Koronis Ministries and Grace UMC in Paynesville to participate in the new Minnesota Conference lay leader retreat, ConneXion: Finding Purpose and Connection in Ministry. These lay leaders learned about their strengths, values, and passions; examined what brings meaning and purpose to their lives; participated in contemplative practices like lectio divina, centering prayer, the prayer of examen, and gratitude practices; and connected with other lay leaders from across the conference.
The cornerstone of this retreat is listening—listening beyond our habits and patterns, listening to the needs of the world around us, listening with open minds and hearts to God to discern our path, our purpose, and our contributions as disciples of Jesus Christ.
Following the ConneXion Retreat we asked: Did this ConneXion retreat make a difference in your life and ministry? Here is a sampling of the responses we received:
“I shared a summary of my retreat with enthusiasm at my Bible study class on Tuesday night. Also going to share some comments of the retreat this Sunday when I fill the pulpit for my pastor. I also went around and invited seven of my neighbors to attend the service on Sunday.”
“Brought me closer to God and my calling. Personally formed some lifelong relationships.”
“This retreat made a difference in my life by giving me a chance to look at my call more deeply. It will make a difference in my ministry because I understand myself better and am making adjustments in the direction I am going based on insights gained at the retreat.”
“I am the type of person who has always had plans and thinks hard on what my future will be. I think I have been able to hear God speak and call me by name, and that is why I have been working as the Christian education director for almost a year now. But this retreat did still help me define the call much clearer and reaffirm what I was hearing. My discussion with my roommate at night was where God spoke the most to me on where to go. I believe I also assisted him in his call.”
“ I got clarity not only on what my call is, but the unique things I bring to that call and how I want to answer it.”
Are you building a culture of discipleship in your congregation? Would you like to host a ConneXion retreat in conjunction with your discipleship efforts? We are interested in partnering with congregations around the state to bring ConneXion to different areas of our annual conference and make it accessible as we commit to our belief that all are called! Email Jody Thone to talk more about this possibility!
Jody Thone is director of leadership development for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church