The basic premise is to foster the practice of story telling (and story listening) along with the asking of questions. This happens by first creating a space in which this can happen, and then by forming a community in that space that can evoke, pull out, and engage the deep life questions we are all asking (even if not out loud). FTE hopes that by helping our congregations get better at this practice (spiritual practice, really) that we will be better at helping our young people figure out how they are called. It emerged for them out of the recognition that there is a shortage of young people following calls to ordained ministry, but they realized that the problem was deeper than that--and that the way to get at the root questions was to help foster communities in which young people especially, but also the whole intergenerational range of folks, could explore, ponder, and discern callings in the world. As one of the facilitators has said, if the Church is not doing this work, what the heck are we doing? I tend to agree.
Pastor types talk a lot about "call" about the "call to ministry" or whatever. As part of my preparation to be a pastor I had to reflect at length (ad naseum) about "vocation," about my own sense of call, where it came from, what I think it meant, and what God had to do with it. People asked me repeatedly about how, where, when, and why I felt called. My seminary professors, a board of people from my synod, and finally the congregation which I'm serving all had to hear my sense of how God was calling me to ordained ministry, and say "Yep, we think this guy is called to be a pastor too." In my ordination I said out loud that I would consider the call of the church the call of God and do my best to live fully into that calling. Call, call, call. I'm steeped in it. And I believe that all of us are called to something, or many somethings.
But I wonder, do the rest of us (non clergy folk) think much about call? What does the word "call" or "vocation" used in this way even mean to you? Do you all out in the real world think about the things that you are up to as callings? And if you do, do you think of them as callings from God? How is your calling connected to, or separate from, the work you do? And, do we ever actually talk about this other than in the context of people who think they are called to be pastors? Would it help if we talked about this sort of thing more?
And (in the spirit of this conference I'm at) do you have a 2 minute story that illustrates how (or why, or when) you feel called? If you do, feel free to share it in the comments--and ask questions about one another's stories too if you are curious or want to know more.