Kansas church helps youth discern call to ministry

By Jay Voorhees, Special Contributor…

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—The Rev. Adam Hamilton, senior pastor at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection (COR) in Leawood, Kan., has been a passionate voice on the need to recruit, mentor, train and support young adults for ordained ministry in the UMC. This was demonstrated by his advocacy for the new Young Clergy Initiative Fund at the 2012 General Conference in Tampa, Fla.

However, Mr. Hamilton’s desire for creating structures of support is also seen in an intentional program of leadership development at Church of the Resurrection. The program’s goal is to lead 200 persons into ordained United Methodist ministry in the next 20 years.

At COR the effort begins as early as the third grade, when students receive Bibles from the church. “When we present the Bibles, we suggest to our third graders that this book that they are receiving may be something that they eventually teach or preach from,” Mr. Hamilton said in an interview during the Young Clergy Summit, Aug. 20-21 in Nashville.

Adam Hamilton. UMNS PHOTO BY KATHY L. GILBERT

When kids at COR move into confirmation, the church offers a program that is focused on the calling from God—both the calling to serve as laity, but also the possibility of a calling to ordained ministry.

“We help our kids understand what ordained ministry looks like,” said Mr. Hamilton. “We talk about why we need young pastors, and ask who they think will reach today’s kindergarteners, if not them.”

Mr. Hamilton said that as a result of the confirmation experience, 30 percent of the participants end up wanting to think more about God’s call in their lives. These children are led into the COR “Ministry as a Career Track” (MAC Track) program. MAC Track is a monthly meeting with COR pastors and staff which examines what it means to be a pastor, the different options for ministry (elder, deacon, etc.), and what it means to be United Methodist. This program continues from confirmation through high school.

Once the MAC Track students are in high school, the church begins to assign more responsibilities to them, such as the tasks of mentoring children, helping to teach Sunday school classes, and even assisting with pastoral care. When the students reach college they can move into a structured intern program, with some 16 interns each year.

For those who choose to go to seminary after college, the church has a program to help offset the high cost of their theological education. COR has budgeted to pay $150 per credit hour to students from the congregation who pursue ordained ministry. The church also works with donors to provide additional scholarships.

Mr. Hamilton acknowledged that his church is larger than most United Methodist congregations, and that not all churches can implement a program like MAC Track. “We see this as a program at the district level,” he said, “with pastors who are intentionally thinking about how they help people pursue the calling into ordained ministry.”

Mr. Hamilton, who serves on the board of Saint Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, Mo., said he often shares the story of a fellow board member, a farmer who worships in a congregation that averages around 80 people in attendance. Mr. Hamilton said that 10 people in the church have answered the call to ministry during the past 15 years, through the influence of this one man.

Special Contributor to UMR

Special Contributor

This story was written by a special contributor to The United Methodist Reporter. You may send your article submissions to
editor@circuitwritermedia.com
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