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In January 2020, Covenant’s role in the Life is Calling Initiative will transition from research and project development to the implementation of the Ecosystem of Discernment. For each member of the Covenant Life is Calling Team, this work is deeply meaningful. Each of us hold personally compelling reasons to consistently gather for early morning meetings, offering time and energy to explore Christian calling here at Covenant. We want to communicate these reasons with you as an act of sharing why we are so excited, invigorated, and devoted to the Life is Calling Initiative and our own project: The Ecosystem of Discernment.
Please feel free to reach out to any of the team members if you have any questions.
Ann Carol Mann:
When I first read about the Life is Calling initiative, I immediately thought, “I want to be part of that.” Since childhood I felt my life was important to God and I could find meaning and purpose in following God. Yes, this did lead to a sense of calling to ministry in the “churchy” sense, but in my years of not having a professional ministry position, I felt no less called and committed to using my gifts for ministry in the world. What I hope will happen through the Ecosystem of Discernment, is anyone who finds their way to BCOC will find a path for discovering purpose, meaning, and for living their unique life in Christ through supportive community. How exciting it would be for someone such as a young adult living and working downtown seeking direction and fulfillment to find that BCOC is not asking them to just plug into what we’re already doing, but encouraging and empowering them to follow and serve God in their unique individuality. This discovery is not for maintaining the institution called BCOC, but for allowing us all to participate in God’s restoration agenda of making all things new in Christ.
A decade or so ago I caught up with an old teacher. I was feeling directionless when it came to discovering my calling in life. What I felt was failure, my inability to pick one path into some illusive vocation, my professor simply deemed made me a well-rounded person. I still remember that supportive hand on my shoulder, calling out something in my wrestling to be beautiful. It was a release and permission to live into the tension of both/and that has carried me through many seasons of discernment. The Life is Calling ecosystem carves out the essential space for soul nurturing exploration, play and creativity. It is the field upon which you can dig into yourself, meet in community, grow relationally, and flourish. What would your life be like if you were given that same affirming hand on the shoulder, to freely grow into who you are and who you are becoming? What could a system of support and resources dedicated to healing, growth, freedom to play, and empowerment to serve creatively do for the Church? When the Spirit is given freedom among us to move in its divine dance, what beautiful fruits will be harvested? This is why I am filled with excitement for the potential of the LIC Ecosystem.
I believe that when people align their lives with their deepest loves, they contribute to making the kingdom of God real in our world, living out the mind of Christ. The ecosystem provides a safe, welcoming environment where people
- can identify the barriers they’ve encountered which have kept them from living out of what they love;
- identify and develop assets they possess which can remove those barriers and facilitate their living out of what they love;
- provide assistance and encouragement to develop further skills for negotiating their life process;
- all in the context of a supportive, affirming community of seeking believers.
The question put to me was, “why is Life is Calling work important?” I was asked by Taylor if I would consider being a part of a small group that would be working on developing a grant proposal to address/investigate/be curiously mindful about the concept of “calling” in our church. I was honored to be asked, for many reasons including wanting to find a new way to be involved. Knowing little about where this would lead, I was curious and excited to see what would develop.
We have met numerous times as a committee, early coffee morning gatherings that have planted seeds which have birthed what we call “The Ecosystem of Discernment.” This system, in short, is at its best designed to be a dynamic model/process for discerning and sustaining a “called way of life.” We have named the physical space housing the Ecosystem “The Greenhouse.” Let your imagination run wild with that metaphor! As a physical space, the Greenhouse will be characterized by creativity, risk, discernment, faithfulness, dialogue, and community.
Why is this important to me?
-This is a dynamic tool to aid others in identifying ways to serve.
-This can be a process that generates ministry opportunities for our “church on the corner,” internally and externally.
-This can be a way to engage those who have not felt traditionally “called,” offering new ways of interpretation and taking action.
-This can be a gathering place that celebrates the arts in our church, and in the community.
-This can be a model that reaches the younger members of our church, an age group that is important to engage for our future.
Our Life is Calling work is important to me because it’s about helping people live flourishing lives. A flourishing life is one of joy, goodness, and meaning. This is, quite simply, a life worth living. And as a pastor, I believe it is the life God intends for us to live. I hold fast to a theology which understands each person as lovingly and purposefully created by God, each born to live a meaningful life, and that such a life is lived by listening and responding to God’s voice in our lives. I am incredibly excited for the Ecosystem of Discernment because it is created to help each person to authentically live a flourishing life; a beautiful, joyous, meaningful, and good life. I can think of no greater task for the Church. Where Christ’s salvific love heals and redeems us, and the Church is called by God to be a Christ-centered community, the Ecosystem is about helping each individual discover how Christ’s love has uniquely shaped them to live a meaningful life. Living such a life is how we share the Gospel with the world, and how we experience the Gospel within ourselves. And this is our purpose as Christians.