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The goal of this paper is to develop a process to help the people at West Covina Christian Church (WCCC) discover God’s calling in their lives so that the church might be more effective in engaging and empowering people for ministry. The underlying belief behind this project is that ministries are strongest when the people serve with a conviction about God’s calling for them personally. The reason why ministries are stronger when those serving in them have a keen sense of God’s calling is because the ministers are living out God’s creative purposes for their lives. This sense of calling benefits both the church (by providing higher quality ministries) and the individual (by giving a deeper level of satisfaction in serving). To help people find God’s individual calling for them, a six-week vocational discernment curriculum has been created for this project. The curriculum, entitled Called by God: Empowering People for Ministry, utilizes creative video clips and teachings, small group discussions, and spiritual formation exercises. By the end of the six weeks, participants will have a better understanding of themselves, what God is calling them to do, and how he has gifted and equipped them for the service to which he has called them.
WCCC started eighty years ago with the purpose of reaching Japanese Americans. The church is now a multi-ethnic and multi-generational congregation. Part One of the paper analyzes this ministry context. Chapter 1 recounts how Quakers helped Japanese American members of WCCC during their WWII internment. Building upon this, the chapter outlines important Quaker beliefs and practices that are helpful for addressing current ministry needs at WCCC. Chapter 2 considers ministry empowerment challenges which could potentially arise in a multi-ethnic and multi-generational church such as WCCC. Special attention is given to the continuing influence of Asian culture on the ministry at WCCC and to the difficulties of engaging the Millennial generation. Additionally, by analogizing the ministry culture at WCCC to a family-run business, the church’s core practices, convictions, institutions, and narratives are looked at.
Part Two gives theological reflection to ministry calling and empowerment. Chapter 3 provides a literary review of pertinent writings on ministry engagement, culture, discernment, and vocation. Chapter 4 explores the theological topics and themes that undergird the curriculum created in this project, including the priesthood of all believers, trinitarian relations as a model for ecclesial interactions, and a politicoecclesiological formula. The formula demonstrates how charismata, the ministry five functions listed in Ephesians 4:11, and church offices work together to empower people for ministry in the church.
Part Three describes the curriculum Called by God. Chapter 5 defines vocation, gives practical ways vocation can be discerned, describes how these ways are utilized in the curriculum, and outlines the project goals. Chapter 6 evaluates the pilot groups and based on this evaluation suggests possible implications for future application.
The Summary and Conclusion explains how Called by God fits into the project’s overall vision of helping WCCC develop a participatory ministry culture and gives some next steps.
Content Reader: C. Wess Daniels, PhD
Material is subject to copyright.
Wenell, Kory, "Developing a Participatory Ministry Culture at West Covina Christian Church through Vocational Discernment" (2016). Doctor of Ministry Projects. 258.