A Dream

This post is not about a dream as in “I have a dream …” or “last night I had the strangest dream”.  Not some desire or bold vision.  Just the mundane sort of thing that happens in sleep. I can barely remember it now, but I know I woke up mulling over such things as balancing vocation and a sense of call, with testing that and this apparent need to sell yourself.

“I feel called by God to do this, therefore you must give me the job” some how doesn’t cut it in interviews these days.

And nor should it!. As much as I would love it to be that simple I don’t think it should be.  It has always been part of our Methodist understanding, and I would argue this is the best model across the Christian tradition, that an individual’s sense of call is tested.  It starts with the informal chats with the close friend to see what they think and progresses up to the more formal testing by the Church, through applications, interviews etc (the exact way a call is tested depends on the call) but if someone is offering for ministry within the Church, be it lay or ordained, be it a short term thing (like me at the moment) or sense of life-long call it is right that the Church has a say.  It is right that they are involved in testing that call.

This position comes not only from our understanding of calling and ministry but also from our understanding of “authority”.  The Methodist Church is unusual in having four sources of authority during decision making.  There are some that claim to have only one; “the word of God” (how accurate this claim is I shall leave up to you)  or others whereby what I think God is saying to me is key.  Our Anglican comrades have three (which leads to lots of analogies about stools) namely scripture, Tradition (the recieved teachings of the Church; not habit!!) and reason/logic.  To this, Methodism adds personal experience.  We then try to balance these together.  The importance one person places on each, or how they hold them in tension will vary, but the point of this is that personal experience is a source of authority for me and my Methodisty types so on one hand “I feel called by God” is a very good starting point (in fact I would say if one doesn’t feel called by God in one form or another then we need to be asking questions of that) but at the same time we balance our personal experience, so it is just as important it is tested.  In short, the Methodist understanding of authority means we should respond and test senses of call.

I knew all this when I woke up (I have a surprising amount of love for the “Wesleyan Quadrilateral” – the geeky name given to the four sources of authority) and yet I still felt un-easy.  I haven’t written my bit of the OPP application yet, that comes later on, but I know that I will have to “sell myself” close friends are applying for jobs they feel called to, and are having to “sell themselves” to the employer.  I think I felt uneasy not because I cannot justify myself as a viable candidate, but because it somehow runs the risk of cheapening the process.  Does me following what I believe to be God’s call rest on how well I can talk up my transferable skills?  Other, bigger, questions also arise. What if this isn’t God’s call but I write such a good application I get it?  Then what?

There is a little more that could be said, I know the answer to some of those questions, but they require a much more systemically structured blog post.  One which no doubt will appear at some point.  But I set to writing my dissertation this morning more with a sense of tension and lack of resolution, but a general feeling that it was OK, and so I shall leave my blog here, and hopefully it will convey some of that too.

Finally, I am actually quite excited that I have written an open-ended post.  It was inevitable, but I can now add “written a post with more questions that answers” to my list of first-time experiences!

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It begins

I am now back from a meeting I had with my Superintendent Minister (someone should write a Methodist Jargon Buster I can link to!). He is called Alf and I get on with him very well. I went over to the Manse (house that the Church owns that Ministers live in) for lunch, which was very tasty, and then we chatted about being an OPP. That is, a “One Programme Participant”. The One Programme is the Methodist Church’s strategy for increasing Youth Participation. An OPP is a part time, paid, young person (younger than 23) who works with a specific “project” to make that happen.

I was a little bit nervous about this meeting; I didn’t know what to expect. The idea of living in a campervan for a year is an odd one, and Alf may well have had ideas for me (not that he’d ever force me into them, but telling him I had a different plan would have been awkward for me). As it was, Alf was lovely and very much let me take the lead, so that was good.

The way OPP applications work, is that a church, a circuit (a group of churches in a local area) or a district (a wider area made of different circuits) create a project, and people apply to run them. So we talked about the project application, and what ideas I had about it, and how it would suit me and how it would fulfill the criteria and so forth. So you know, a One Programme Project must;

  • Be run by a young person
  • Increase youth participation
  • Be linked to the Methodist church
  • Be able to run after the OPP has left
It was a good chat, Alf was supportive and liked the idea.  We talked about some good practical stuff; the cost of fuel, living a nomadic life, parking and so on.  As well as how it would link in with other things within the Synod. (I will explain the quirks of Wales district some other time!)
So all in all a good meeting.  Alf is now writing the project application, which I am excited about and it is all moving a step closer.  Once we’ve done the Project Application it gets sent off, and then the people who control the money pick 12 projects to finance and OPP for, and then those projects ask for applications for people to be an OPP.  So the next stage, really, is to get it written and sent off, and hope they like the project.  But things look favourable for this.

More later, probably when we send the application off!  (should contain all the exciting nitty gritty details of the project!)

An Introduction

And so my blogging begins.
This has arisen because the idea of a blog has intrigued me for the last few years, largely since I arrived at uni but now I have a purpose and context for my blog which I am happy with, I shall begin.

I am considering working part time for the Methodist Church in Wales, trying to increase Youth Participation (full details in a later post!) and part of the strategy I will use, if that dream goes ahead, is to blog. I see it as a simple way that those with web access can find out about what I am doing, and therefore what is going on with young people in Wales.

At the same time, however, I want my blog to do more than that. I want my blog to be a way of exploring, in a very public manner, following what I perceive to be a call of God on my life at this time. And so I shall start now because in 3 days time I am talking to my minister about this, so it makes sense to start blogging at this point.

So I shall start blogging now, then if after a process (to be described in a different post) I do work for the church my blog will be in place, I will have “found my voice” and be ready to go, and the previous posts will stand as a record of testing that call. If I do not work for the church next year then the blog will probably still exist and become more generic. Either way, I think God as other calls on my life which I will probably blog through so it shall be used in that way.

So that is a little bit about me.

Let me also introduce Mwyndeg. Mwyndeg only exists as a concept at the moment. At the moment I think next year will involve living in a campervan. And I want a name for my campervan, so I picked Mwyndeg. For a bunch of reasons really. I am currently living in North Wales, here welsh identity and culture are tied very closely to the language (which I shamefully haven’t learnt yet, that is an aim for next year) and I wanted to reflect the distinctly welsh element by using a welsh language name. I wanted a name beginning with M, so she and I could meander and also because then she can be “Mwyndeg the Methodist-mobile, or the methomobile” or something cool-sounding like that! I also wanted a slightly unusual name; Myfanwy would not cut it, despite being lovely and welsh. And, because I wasn’t picky enough already, I wanted one with a nice meaning. So Mwyndeg it was. As it comes from words meaning gentle and pretty. So there you have Mwyndeg. She is literally just a name and a scant wish-list of features at the moment, but when she gets closer to reality I shall blog about her with great excitement!

So here I am, starting my blog, just before the adventure starts really, waiting to first dip my toes into exploring this sense of call and into blogging too1