Many studies have concluded the same truth: clergy can only survive and thrive in ministry when they maintain a lively sense of their calling from God. Ministry is hard work, life today is more complex, churches are more difficult to serve and to lead, and clergy cannot survive and thrive in their ministry if it is just a job. The only thing which allows clergy to keep going is their sense that their ministry is being done in response to God’s call in their life.

“A lively sense of call” is the focus of the annual “Our Life Together Retreat” which is set this year for Monday/Tuesday, April 26-27 at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church. This popular and well-attended annual event is for all United Methodist clergy in Indiana – active, retired, Local Pastors, Deacons, and Elders. Our clergy can register online through our Indiana Conference Web site at www.inumc.org

In response to feedback from previous years, this year’s OLT event will be more of a retreat, with more time for sharing, inspiration, and even a musical concert. It will also include time for our clergy to hear and to share stories of their call to ministry.

Why am I sharing this information in my E-pistle? Partly so that our clergy will remember to register soon for this event. Mostly so that laity will urge their pastors and clergy friends to be a part of Our Life Together. Yes, I hope that laity will urge clergy to take two days out of their busy spring schedules and attend this retreat. Our clergy need time to renew their sense of call and to develop an even more lively sense of call – in order to keep going in their ministry.

You may have noticed that my recent E-pistles have dealt with the Five Fruitful Practices, and I will resume that emphasis in coming weeks. But I suddenly realized this week that for these Five Practices to happen in our churches, we need clergy to lead our churches whose own sense of call is strong, lively, and refreshed. So please encourage one another: We all need a lively sense of call.