Washburn Campus Ministry Calling Cohort


Reported by Jacob Martin, jamartin@greatplainsumc.org
United Methodist Campus Ministry at Washburn University

Project Summary

Did your project go as expected?
Our concept and execution of a "Calling Cohort" had some successes and failures, and did not go as expected. Recruitment was difficult and fewer students engaged in the experience than planned for. This smaller group size made for better sharing, but made our Discernment events more of a challenge; if one person was unable to make it, others struggled to want to be present. Additionally, group community was not established, making it difficult for participants to feel like staying together as a group was a desire.

Which of the 5 earmarks of Culture of Call did this project address? How?
  • Discernment events/experiences - yes
  • Personal exploration - yes
  • Mentoring - yes
  • Spiritual nurture - no
  • Community expression of supporting individual calls - no
Each student was paired with a mentor after committing to the experience, and was expected to meet 1-on-1 with their mentor once a week or bi-weekly depending on student and mentor schedules and availability. If a meeting was missed, both were responsible to one another for making up that time together. Further, we coordinated times for all student and mentor pairings to gather and discuss particular sections of their primary text (The Call, Os Guinness) for our Discernment events. Lastly, all participants were introduced to the Enneagram through a secondary text - The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth. Due to COVID-19 we did not reach group conversation upon the Enneagram and its connection and possible application to one's calling.

Who was the primary audience of your project?
Young adults

How did you use the funds?
We utilized funds to purchase books and food for our time together. No honorariums were spent towards guest presenters or speakers. And, fewer funds were spent on food due to COVID-19 and the inability to be in-person and share in a meal.

Will the project that you undertook be continued? How?
Given our new environment of uncertainty, UMCM@WU will continue to utilize the texts that have been purchased with students in Small Groups, as well as the foundation of a book video series that groups or individual students can use and access online through our ministry's YouTube channel.

How did this project cultivate a culture of call in your church or district?
We had to Associate Pastors from the Topeka area serve as Mentors for our students, and one of the students is our ministry's strongest and most involved leader. She has spoken to the learnings and growth she has gained through this experience, and feels more equipped to continue in her discernment. Plus, she is excited about having more students being exposed to the content and helping be a leader/facilitator for future students engaging this material.

How were people impacted through the project?
Mentors were excited to be involved in the lives of students, and excited about serving in the same and/or different students in the future. Our students gained a relationship with a strong person of faith who was ready to do life with them.

How did you tell the story of your project?
Due to COVID-19 we were unable to have the audience we expected and wanted to tell the story of this project. So, I recorded a video update of myself to share with Topeka area churches and took a moment to share this Calling Cohort.

What could you share about this project with others?
This project model would function best for a group ready to dive deep into personal and theological reflection centered on God's calling. Students commented the books that we utilized were great, but having two additional texts to read through the course of a semester felt a bit overwhelming. Further, the relationship between Student and Mentor can make or break the experience for both individuals. We had one pairing that had a phenomenal experience and continues to meet on their own while another pair did not make it through the end of the semester. Lastly, each aspect of this Calling Cohort could be stand alone - Small Groups, Mentoring, Personal Exploration - and could utilize different books. Our intention, though it will not happen in the coming semester, was to retain a group semester to semester. Meaning, after this initial experience the group would have formed a community and chosen to remain a group that could begin working through different content on calling.