Revd Dr Steve Summers, Principal of the Diocese's Local Ministry Programme considers ministry and calling in a local context.
Guildford Diocese’s Local Ministry Programme trains people for authorised ministry and helps to develop discipleship around the diocese. The LMP strapline is ‘minister locally, think globally’, and seeks to make clear that although we might be rooted in a parish or work setting, ministry needs to have a much wider vision to draw on. Working for the Kingdom of God is never constrained by local circumstances, it will always have an eye on what God is doing in the wider world – in Church and outside it.
"The notion of the 'big picture' informing local action is pretty much how a call to serve God works."
So what might this phrase ‘minister locally, think globally’ say to us about vocation? Well, the notion of the ‘big picture’ informing local action is pretty much how a call to serve God works. Often the feeling that we might want to ‘do more’, or a vague sense that we might be ‘called’ to pursue more of a leadership position in the Church, or a growing realisation that we are more fulfilled by doing our work in Church than our secular employment, leads us towards exploring how this sense of vocation might work out.
There will always be some practical local outworking of this sense of call. A vocation can begin with a general idea of serving God, but only gets realised when it is rooted in concrete action. So the ‘big-picture’ idea of serving God, finds its expression in actually serving the Kingdom of God in a local and practical manner – usually in the local church or in the workplace.
"Ministry is not an idea it is an action, expressed through equipping others for the life of faith and building disciples."
To connect back to where this began; ministering locally, thinking globally. In the case of training for ministry in an official capacity, the overarching principles of loving and serving God in the Church, of sharing God’s Kingdom with the world, and of living as a disciple of Christ, are always rooted in serving the local church community. Ministry is not an idea
it is an action
, expressed through equipping others for the life of faith and building disciples.
This ‘training for ministry’ programme primarily operates to train lay and ordained ministers for parishes in the diocese, and is usually a three year part-time course. However, since we deliver the course in tem-long modules, we open these up to interested learners from parishes. For a small fee, you can join in these sessions and develop your learning and discipleship: no other commitment is required. It is quite possible that the broadening experience of learning alongside those from a variety of Christian traditions will help clarify what God’s call to you might mean in practice.