Three ways to encourage new vocations

First published 9th September 2015

When Justin Welby was elected the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury in February 2013, everyone was commenting on his meteoric rise, since he had been consecrated as a bishop only 16 months earlier.

I remember reading about his life and being amazed how God seemed to have so clearly directed each step of his path in order to prepare him for this significant role.

I was powerfully struck by our God who holds the future in his hands, quietly preparing someone to meet a future need that the church wasnt even aware that it had.

My experience of the Anglican Church is that it is really good at praying for its leaders through regular intercession, and I have certainly been blessed by the faithful prayers of my congregation during my parish ministry.

But who is praying for the next generation of leaders? Archbishop Justin certainly needs our faithful and dedicated prayers, as do our bishops, priests, deacons, lay ministers, churchwardens, youth workers and all servants of the Church.

But how often do we pray for the next Archbishop, whoever he, or she, may be? Do we think to pray for the person who will be our next bishop or parish priest? Because God is at work right now, quietly preparing individuals whom He will one day call to these roles and amazingly, He invites us to partner with Him in that vital work through our prayers.

A significant part of my new role is promoting and encouraging new vocations, particularly among younger people, so that our Church might be equipped to better connect with our diverse communities and thrive in the next generation. But I am reminded that Jesus Christ, the head of the church, is already at work, preparing and calling future shepherds of His flock and leaders of His body, and He is rather more experienced than me at doing this!

Therefore, my primary task is not to be found in strategies or schemes or ideas, as important and helpful as these might be, but the work of vocations discernment must be fundamentally rooted, grounded and saturated in prayer. I wonder if you might be willing to join me in this privileged, awe-inspiring task that has the potential to revive the Church and transform our nation?

What can you do? Well firstly, you could personally commit to spending five minutes a day on your commute to work praying for the church, its leaders and its future ministers maybe every time you drive or walk past a church, you could send up a prayer that God might call ministers out of that congregation.

Secondly, you might want to think about encouraging your church to include prayers for future leaders in its intercessions, alongside its prayers for the current leaders.

Thirdly, if you feel inspired about the significant part that you could play in the growth and health of the church into the next generation, maybe you might consider committing to be part of a group of intercessors that regularly and faithfully prays for future vocations. If this is you, please get in touch with me.

All the good work that I might hope to do in this role will come to nothing without you.

Revd Helen Collins

Adviser for Licensed Ministry

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