3. Practice Ministry
Each of us has opportunities to engage in ministry every day—whether interacting with the clerk at the grocery store, loving coworkers, or spending time on social media. Start viewing your daily life as an internship, full of opportunities to practice being in ministry. Ask God for chances to do this in everyday life. You may learn a lot about the challenges and joys of ministry, your particular gifts, and even some of the things that might threaten to trip you up in vocational ministry.
I’ve never heard of a church that doesn’t have room for one more volunteer. Chances are, your church would be eager for your involvement. And if you’re already volunteering, try several different volunteer roles that are new for you. Tell your church leaders you’re considering vocational ministry and you want to have a better understanding of what kind of ministry might be right for you. Bonus: you’ll develop a bit of knowledge and empathy that will help you if you find yourself directing volunteers later.
5. Request Feedback
As you do ministry, either informally or through volunteer roles, ask a variety of people to let you know how you’re doing. Seek input on your special gifts, your shortcomings, and pitfalls to which you may be prone. Invite a mentor, coach, spiritual director, or counselor to walk alongside you and to be brutal in helping you develop the inner strength, skills, and conviction you will need to be an effective minister.
It’s possible that after taking these steps, you might decide a less formal ministry arrangement is right for you. Or you may still feel called specifically to work for a church. Either way, you will benefit from this early work as you prepare and seek a vocational role. The heart of any effective ministry is in who you are, not what you do.
No matter what stage you’re in through this process, remember, you were not put here on earth to work for any particular church—or to do a specific job. Your calling is much bigger: to be the person God has created you to be. Your “being” mission in life is active at all times. Before you seek a job in ministry (volunteer or paid), bring your life into alignment with this calling. Think big and offer your whole life in ministry.
Amy Simpson is a life and leadership coach, a popular speaker, and the award-winning author of Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission and Anxious: Choosing Faith in a World of Worry (both InterVarsity Press). You can find her at AmySimpsonOnline.com, on Facebook, on LinkedIn, and on Twitter @aresimpson.