Eastern Mennonite University

Our guiding principles

The following are some general principles for how you might arrange and run each of the gatherings in the Timothy Project. We realize that each setting is different and needs to be approached in unique ways. Please feel free to move sessions around, rework them to your liking and setting. Please let us know how you did it so that we can share those learnings with others who might want to use this material.

Group spiritual direction

As we seek to call forth workers into God’s kingdom, your role as the leader of the Timothy Project is to partner with God’s Spirit. God has begun stirring in the participants this sense of call, your role is to accompany them on the journey of discovery. It is important for those who lead the Timothy Project to give space to the Spirit’s continued work in the lives of the participants as they are exposed to the material. The best way for this is happen is to allow ample time at the end of each session or at the beginning of each session to simply ask, “What do you sense God has been speaking to you through this process?” Giving space can sometimes mean that there will be silence. Remember that this may be the first time they have been given time to reflect on a very profound question. Silence makes room for God’s Spirit to break in with fresh insight. When someone in the group shares what they have experienced, gently affirm them for sharing. This will create hospitality for others to share their feelings as well. When it seems appropriate, it can be helpful to close the time of sharing by summarizing or reflecting back to the group what you as a leader have heard, giving special attention to common themes that emerge. Follow the reflection time with a time of prayer.

Presenting the material

You may choose to lead each session yourself, however, participants will appreciate a variety of perspectives. Though you may be a wonderful minister and teacher, this program isn’t only about the information. It is about these persons exploring their call and experiencing through others what vocational ministry is about. If you choose to have a variety of presenters, it is very important that you put some thought and prayer into who you will ask to serve as presenters. They will need to hear about your experience but they will also need exposure to a variety of ministry experiences to better discern their call and God’s direction for them. Ministers of various ages, genders, races, classes and ministries should be sought out to give as broad a picture of ministry as possible. For example, ask your overseer to come and speak on “If I were starting my ministry again.” Ask a denominational leader or conference pastor to speak on “So where do I go from here” and share the various opportunities available. Ask a young pastor to talk about setting boundaries, or a woman to speak on her experience of ministry. Try to use all the persons and resources available to you for those desiring to understand what ministry is about.

Sharing a meal

Each gathering of the expected nine week study program should begin with breakfast or a shared meal. This creates a common experience for the group and builds trust and fellowship. Sharing one’s personal call is an intimate thing and one that can be frightening. By eating together we create trust between the group and a family atmosphere that will aid in informal, intimate sharing. For the first session spend a little more effort and time on the meal. Make a big one that the group will remember. It will literally leave a good taste in their mouths for the next time and make things special. As time goes on slowly tone it down to something simple.

Shadowing a Minister

This is a dream of most persons who sense a call to ministry. Spending an entire day with someone that they respect and admire can be a powerful motivator or alternately a wake-up call as they see what real day-to-day ministry is about. The participants will request to shadow certain ministry persons in various settings. A request form is available in the appendix on page 32. A printable version is available online at http://www.emu.edu/seminary/timothy/appendix.html. Leaders will need to make the initial contacts to confirm and connect ministers with the Timothy Project participant. After contacting and confirming that a minister is willing to be shadowed by one of the participants, send a letter to the minister that explains what is being asked of them. There is a sample letter in the appendix of this book. An editable/printable version is available online at
http:// www.emu.edu/seminary/timothy/appendix.html.

That letter will give helpful suggestions about how this experience can be laid out.

Prayer Partners

We all need someone who will be a witness of our life and the work that Christ is doing in and through it. This prayer partner relationship can serve to provide the witness and support that each participant will need as they go through this experience. As a leader, you will not be able to spend as much individual time with each of the participants as they would like or need, especially if you have a large group. Remember these persons are sensing a call to move into more formal expressions of ministry. Allow them to practice this ministry with those in the group and learn to receive ministry from peers by pairing off to form prayer partnerships. Make sure you check-in every so often to see how the relationship is going. This will give you insight into further training needs or possibly what direction in ministry the participants may be best suited for.

Buying Books and Resources

We recommend that each participant have a copy of Speaking of God and Celebration of Discipline to read. We bought the books and loaned them to the participants. Participants could buy them from us if they wished. We encouraged them to put their name in the front of the book, so there is a record of who has read the book in the past. Who knows, in 10 years, someone may end up with the book their pastor used to discern his or her call.

Additional Resources for each gathering

We collected a few additional resources for some of the gatherings. They are available online in pdf format at http://www.emu.edu/seminary/timothy/additionalresources.html.