Exploring the Explore Programme

With a special taster session of the Explore Programme taking place in April, this blog by Alison Ransome, Learning & Development Manager, explores the Explore Programme and how it can help you discern your calling to serve God and the Church.

Feeling the call to serve and discerning what that calling could be can be daunting. What can you offer, how will you find the time, where will you get training? Are you good enough, what happens if you fail? Making changes in how your discipleship is lived out can feel like a huge leap, taking you from what you are doing now to becoming a more active participant in building God’s Kingdom.

We all have gifts to offer but each calling is as individual as each member of the Church. Your gift could be a caring nature enabling you to walk alongside those in difficulty, a practical skill such as church administration, a call to lead worship or ordained ministry.

All vocations are valid and all equally valuable.

The Explore Programme offers someone from outside your context to accompany you, the opportunity to try out new roles, and a nine-session course for any member of the Methodist Church to take a breath, step back, and consider how they are called to respond to God's call through worship, learning & caring, evangelism and service.

Helen Cain from Box in Wiltshire completed the Explore Programme earlier this year and she discovered her calling wasn’t what she initially felt it to be.

“Last year, out of the blue, a presbyter approached to ask me if I had considered candidating for the ministry. I became restless, sensing that I may well have a calling in this direction. Yet, after six months of exploring, I discovered this was not the direction my vocation was taking me.

“Over the six months, the mist cleared and I started to see the way ahead. While it isn’t what I had imagined, it felt pleasing. Despite not feeling particularly called to candidate, there was no denying that there were aspects of the Diaconal Order that appealed. The course encouraged me to reflect upon this and discern what those aspects might be.

“As a result, I am now exploring the Oblate order of St Benedict though the World Community for Christian Meditation. This, I believe, is the right path. Alongside this, I continue to feel affirmed in the part I play within my own local community and church as Worship Leader.

“The Explore programme is extremely well thought out. The combination of an accompanist and group meetings works well. My accompanist is a good match and the group sessions have covered a lot of excellent material. The facilitators all bring something different and valuable to the table.”

Rachael always wanted to make a difference to people's lives in a way which wasn’t possible during her career. It was a chance meeting with a vicar who encouraged her to explore her vocation, “On holiday we managed to meet with the vicar who performed our wedding service and, through that conversation, I felt a call to local preaching and maybe something more.

"Participation in Explore was fun and informative. There was good fellowship in our house group where I found people I could relate with. Everyone in the small group was supportive, open and accepting.

"The Explore Programme has given me a broad view of all the roles in the Methodist Church. Journalling the opportunities has allowed me to document my thoughts about my journey with God.

What does the Explore programme contain?

Those participating on the course get the support of an accompanist who is a skilled listener and a person of prayer outside of your normal life, to help reflect on how to respond to a call from God.

When you register as an Explorer, you will meet with your church leader and discuss shadowing opportunities with people who are serving God, either in roles you are considering or to help you see opportunities you may not have otherwise considered. What you can achieve may surprise you!

As an Explorer, you will have lots of learning and development opportunities and undertake journaling in whatever format suits as you chart your journey.

You can register for the full course at any time of year, although the course starts twice a year; May 2024 – February 2025 – bookings close 31st April and September 2024 – May 2025 – bookings close 31st August.

You can read details of the full course here and sign up for the taster session here.