Pastor Andrea Beyer served as a TIM Associate Pastor at West Heights United Methodist Church, Wichita, Kansas from 2013-2015.
As I embarked upon my journey into Seminary, I was somewhat conflicted about what I would do once I graduated with my master of divinity. My call to go to seminary was very clear – a direct audible message from God. Despite my years of praying about it, I was not so clear about where my seminary degree should lead me.
Through many conversations with others and through prayers, I ultimately felt led to pastoral ministry. Not having grown up in the church, and having attended several different denominational churches as an adult, I first did research on different denominations to decide where to consider ordination. The outcome of that research, and many prayers, led me to the United Methodist Church. I appreciate the pastoral oversight process of the UMC, and though the many steps to ordination have been long and difficult, I feel this is where I am called to be right now. I appreciate being a part of a connectional system that gives me guidance and leadership as I begin my journey into pastoral ministry.
I have often been asked what specialty I am in, both in seminary and pastoral ministry, and honestly, I cannot say that I have one particular specialty. I know people who specialize in rural or urban ministries, or music ministry, or children or youth ministry or Christian education or planting new churches. I do not see myself in any of those categories, as I see importance for each piece of ministry, and do not feel pulled specifically to one specific place within pastoral ministry. Instead, I see myself more as a generalist, working to meet people and churches where they are and helping them to become the best they can be. I also recognize that I am new to ministry, and still have a lot to learn. While seminary was wonderful and I learned a great deal there, it was not the same as hands-on ministry in the church.
I have spent time working in different specific ministry areas, one in particular was as a Director of Christian Education. I learned a great deal in that role, including that focusing only on Christian education is not for me. I feel similarly about working exclusively with children or youth. I have a deep appreciation and understanding of the importance of all of the above (and more), I feel that my call is to work with all areas of the church, not just one specific piece.
Because I did not grow up in the church and came to faith as an adult, I have a deep understanding of the “nones” in our communities, and feel called to reach out to those who feel removed or alienated from the church. I think this can and should be done in many ways. I hope that through my role as pastor, I can educate people within the church about how those outside experience the church, and how to make the church a more welcoming and friendly place for people who are not currently insiders. This can and should be done in many ways, including through preaching and through other education events, as well as by looking at the church building and community through the lens of an outsider.
Currently, I feel very blessed to be a part of the Transition into Ministry program, where I am appointed not just as a first time associate pastor, but am appointed to learn and to continue my education for the next five years. While I feel that education never stops, this time of focused learning is very helpful for me to learn how to become a pastor within a supportive learning environment. It also will help the churches I will serve later on by training me well at the start. The TiM program is giving me many resources with which to build my ministry practices through mentoring, peer support, and additional educational opportunities such as conferences and focused discussions that are helping me to grow into the best pastor I can be from the start.