Finding your right direction

Course co-ordinator Debbie Ellison and tutor Simon Chesters give us an insight in to Directions - a new course open to lay people.

Everybody needs a good sense of direction. As Christians we believe that God has a purpose for our lives and calls us to a range of different roles in church and the community. We talk about hearing God’s call on our lives but often we are not sure what that means for us. This is where our new course -  launched at LifeCall 2012 - comes in.

We spoke to Directions co-ordinator Debbie Ellison and one of the course tutors Simon Chesters.
“Directions has run very successfully in Carlisle, Manchester and Chester,” says Debbie, “so when we were looking at a model to use to help lay people understand their calling it seemed the ideal course for us. And we were blessed to have Simon Chesters who has taught the course for many years - and knows it inside and out - to guide us.”

Directions runs over three terms mixing worship, discussion and high quality teaching to stimulate thinking. Covering topics including the shape of the Kingdom and our gifts, Directions gives us the opportunity to do some thinking about God’s mission in our church, community, and crucially, our lives. Those on the course need a good Christian grounding and understanding of the basics but there is no commitment to essays – mainly a need to do some work and thinking around the weekly topics.

“It’s about sharing our faith journeys with others and working things out as we travel together,” explains Simon. “Trying to decide God’s purpose is not always easy. We have found in other places that by coming together with people from different backgrounds, churches, and churchmanship, individuals are encouraged and supported to make the right choice for them.”

LifeCall has shown the need to offer people something more than a one off event. Many have come to the Cathedral and been inspired but were unsure about where to go from there. Debbie picks up the theme, “Both LifeCall events have been incredibly productive with many significant conversations and decisions being made. Yet, as the interest in Bishop James’ seminar showed, people want to be able to decide what it is God is calling them to. I have had many discussions with people saying they think God is calling them to something but they don’t know what. That’s where Directions comes in.”

But this is not simply a way to get more people into Ordained or licensed ministry. In one diocese, out of over 400 people who have done the course, more than 30 have found their way into ordained ministry and over 100 are now Readers. However, the course has also helped participants to understand how they can live their faith everyday. “I always remember one lady who told me she thought she was called to be a Reader but the course helped her to see that she had already found her ministry in her nursing career, and it enabled her to live out her faith better in that ministry at work,” said Simon.

As Debbie observes, this is really important. “The course has helped many people discover that God has called them to serve both inside and outside the church. That’s what Directions is. A stimulating course that helps you find God’s direction in your life”.

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