Columbus, NE First UMC hosts retreat to explore calling


Reported by Sarah Borgman,
First UMC, Columbus, NE

Project Summary

Did your project go as expected?
It went better than expected. Of course there were date conflicts with people that wanted to attend, but that will happen no matter what day you pick. The event was so well received that we are looking at having it again probably around Lent. The only thing we felt horrible about from the day was that we didn't take pictures until the end of the day with the prayer stations. However, our horrible feeling was lessened as we thought about how wonderful the day truly was for everyone involved and we wouldn't change a thing about it.

Which of the 5 earmarks of Culture of Call did this project address? How?
  • Discernment events/experiences - yes
  • Personal exploration - yes
  • Mentoring - no
  • Spiritual nurture - no
  • Community expression of supporting individual calls - yes
Our focus was hearing, understanding and answering God's Call in our lives. A portion of the retreat was on Spiritual Gifts, another on discerning what God's voice sounds like or looks like, and then how to take those first steps into answering God's call. We had a time of prayer and intercession with over 20 different prayer stations.

Who was the primary audience of your project? Adults

How did you use the funds?
We purchased lunch, snacks, notebooks, journals, pens, pencils, and materials for the prayer stations and breakout session hands on activities. "Called" resource books were also purchased for participants to check out.

Will the project that you undertook be continued? How?
We are doing follow up with the participants in relation to the Spiritual Gifts portion of the retreat and then individual follow up with prayer and support for each person's call.

How did this project cultivate a culture of call in your church or district?
One of the youth who attended is actively searching his call to ministry and the group encouraged him and helped him in his questions. The group had no idea another one of our youth was interested in ministry. Others in the group discussed how God was calling them to serve the church in a variety of ways. Understanding that God doesn't just call us to ministry but to serve was eye opening to many of the participants.

How were people impacted through the project?
Everyone who attended asked if we were going to do the retreat again. Several of the participants asked if they could bring a friend next time.
Participant survey reactions
  • "I felt the Holy Spirit actively moving today"
  • "I haven't felt this close to God in years"
  • "I didn't want to come today but I came anyways, and I am so glad I did"
  • "I was struggling with some decisions I made and feel that God told me to let them go"
  • "I needed this today more than I knew I did."
After each speaker we had a breakout session or challenge for the participants. The sessions were hands on with movement and reflection. The 1st session was all hands on with crafts and thought filled activities. The 2nd was a Spiritual Gifts Inventory of which most of the participants were stunned about the gifts they had. The 3rd speaker led into the prayer station time. Many of the participants were so moved with this time that they requested copies of the stations to take home with them to include in their home time. Many tears were shed and much laughter was shared during the day.

How did you tell the story of your project?
During the month of October the pastors preached on being called and prepared the congregation for the retreat. Several weeks prior to the retreat, posters with quotes of "calling" were hung around the church. Our children's time and children's/adult Bible study classes, and youth groups spent the month talking about being called. Personal testimonies of being called by God to do something were shared in small groups.

What could you share about this project with others?
What started as a vision became a reality all by the Grace of God. When you let God be in control of what happens it all falls into place. It wasn't exactly as I had first pictured the retreat to be. It turned out to be more, way more. When I drove home from the retreat, I felt full and excited for what God had done that day. I couldn't wait for what God had to do next. That same excitement was evident and discussed by all the participants and leaders following the retreat.