How Timothy Project got started
We suggest that as your group begins to form you have a brainstorming session. Listen to those expressing a sense of call. Find out from them what they feel might be helpful in their discernment process. Using their input and the tools in the Timothy Project you can create an experience that will be effective in helping them better define and embody their calling on behalf of God and God’s people.
In December of 2002 many people attending Praise Fellowship Ministries at Harrisonburg Mennonite Church, Harrisonburg, Virginia, were asking us, “How can I hear and understand the voice of God?” This is a question pastors and church leaders hear often as we accompany those under our care along their journey to discern and faithfully live in obedience to God and the lordship of Jesus Christ. It was clear from the number of persons asking us this question that something needed to be done.
After a number of discussions, Beth Jarrett and I felt that a series on “Learning How to Hear the Voice of God” would be the best pastoral response. We began this series in January, 2003. On February 2, 2003, we invited Loren Horst, president of Virginia Mennonite Mission Board, to preach in Praise Fellowship Ministries as part of this series and that morning he brought the message “When God Says Now!” His message was a challenge and call not only to hear God’s voice but to respond to it. After the message I felt that an invitation to those sensing a call to ministry would be appropriate and invited all those sensing God’s call to ministry to come forward for prayer. We were surprised at the response. More that twenty persons came forward, declaring before God and the congregation that they had heard God saying, “Now is the time for you to follow my call,” and proclaiming that they were going to say yes to that call.
Beth and I were very excited about what had happened, but like many in ministry, we did not have the structures to foster this call to ministry in any intentional way. It was out of this need that we developed the Ministers in Training Program that was the prototype for what we are currently calling the Timothy Project.
We began to contact persons who had come forward on February 2 and on April 22, 2003, Harry met with a group of people who where interested in exploring and understanding the sense of “calling” that was becoming more and more evident in their lives. These persons expressed a growing interest in an intentional and intensive ministry training program that would help them better grasp this sense of calling to ministry and aid them in discerning what, if anything, would be their next steps of faith in pursuing this call.
During our time together they suggested a number of things that they felt would be helpful in this type of discipleship program. During this time of brainstorming, a number of needs and desires were expressed by the group. Most of these needs and desires were used to design our program.
The following is a summary list of their suggestions.
- A desire to hear from experienced ministers from various settings who could share about the reality of being a professional minister.
- A desire to shadow a minister of their choice to experience firsthand a “normal” day in professional ministry.
- A desire to participate in an accountability group with other persons sensing God’s calling
- A desire for practical Biblical studies, instruction on spiritual disciplines, spiritual gifts, time management, boundaries, and authority
Our brainstorming time was very helpful and as Beth and I discussed further we felt that it was important to create an intentional program that would encompass these suggestions and aid these persons in their discernment process. We began to gather materials that had been helpful to us. We created nine weeks of gatherings that would be used to guide the participants from a general sense of call to a specific direction of ministry.
Beginning the Program
On Saturday May 17, 2003 at 6:00 a.m. we met and began the Ministers in Training program (now Timothy Project) with eight persons of various age, gender and marital status. Nine weeks later, all but one person had finished the training and all seven who did complete the program were able to articulate their next step in pursuing God’s call for their lives.