God never stops talking to us. Isn’t that great! God is constantly calling us to do things for him and to serve him in this world. We all have different calls, but for me, my call was into the ministry. But, not into pastoral ministry. I felt called into the education side of the ministry.
I remember that first time I really felt God calling me into the ministry. I was working as a camp counselor at Camp Glisson after my sophomore year in college. I was loving what I was doing that summer! I remember sitting on the front porch of the dining hall with my senior high girls and just getting that feeling that this was what I was supposed to do the rest of my life. I wanted to work with kids and teach them about God and his love. That day became an important day for me because it’s the first day that I really realized that God wanted to use me to serve him. To teach others about him and his Word. To love kids and show them that God loves them too.
That first calling was in 1996. 17 years ago. That calling eventually led me to seminary, which led to a job in camping ministry, which led to 2 jobs in youth ministry, which led to my current job in children’s ministry. Not that I didn’t love all my previous jobs in the ministry, but I finally feel that I have found my passion. And when you find your passion, you want to absorb all the information you can. I want to know all I can about teaching children in the church, how to become a leader in children’s ministry, how to plan the next big event better than last year’s, how to write my own curriculum, how to be a better children’s minister overall. I love my job so much that I want to know more and do more and serve God more in this field.
You know how I said earlier that God is always calling us? Well, I have felt another call recently. I have stumbled upon professional certification in the United Methodist Church in Children’s Ministry. I don’t believe it was any coincidence that I came across it. All God’s plan. Of course, this requires me to go back to school. Oh no!! I always said that after I finished by Masters degree I would never go back to school! Guess I’m eating my own words now and God is laughing!
After many internet searches, e-mails from various seminaries, conversations with professors and elders in the UMC, I found that I can become duly certified in Children’s Ministry and Christian Education by only taking 6 courses. Both require 5 courses, but they have the same 4 classes and only 1 different class. What’s one more course, right? I only have to take 6 course to become certified in both fields. Sounds like a great deal to me! These courses aren’t free, though. I started worrying about money. How were we going to pay for both Andrew and I to be in school at the same time? My husband is finishing his college degree (which I am very proud of him for doing) We began praying that God would provide us with the money for both of us to be in school at the same time. Yesterday I got an answer to that prayer. But, it didn’t come in the form of a big check. It came in the form of an e-mail from a person at the GBHEM office in Nashville. After reviewing my transcripts from Duke, it seems that I have enough courses completed to be certified in Christian Education now!!! AND, I only need 2 more courses to be certified in Children’s Ministry! Wow!!! Good-bye 6 courses, hello 2! I know that we can handle that financially. What a relief and what an answer to prayer! I have chosen to take the courses at Pfeiffer University in Charlotte. However, the 2 courses I need are not offered till Fall 2014 and Spring 2015. Plenty of time for us to save up the money needed (and an added bonus is that the GBHEM offers a stipend to certification students, too!). Another great thing about these classes is that I only have to go to Charlotte once a month for 3 months (a Friday/Saturday class) each semester. And I’ve got friends in Charlotte I can stay with, too! When I read that e-mail yesterday, I just praised God for answering our prayers. Not exactly how I thought it would be answered, but WAY better than I ever could have imagined! Just shows you that God knows better than us.
As I inquire more about certification studies, I am finding that not many people in our conference know of this. If you are a children’s minister out there and are wanting to pursue something more, check out this website: www.gbhem.org. On that website is all the information you need about certification in specialized ministries in the UMC. And there’s not just Children’s Ministry and Christian Education. You can get certified in Youth Ministry, Camp/Retreat Ministry, Collegiate Ministry, Evangelism, Ministry with People with Disabilities, Ministry with the Poor, Music Ministry, Older Adult Ministry, Spiritual Formation, and Urban Ministry. Lots of certifications to choose from.
If God is calling you to something more, LISTEN! Pray and God will answer you. It might not be in the way you think, but he will answer. And remember, God is ALWAYS CALLING YOU! We just have to listen.