Now that you have had time to think about what calling is and time to reflect on your own experiences of calling using our eight windows, we invite you to shift your perspective to thinking about what the experience of calling is like for a person who is unaffiliated with or uninvolved with a church. We have identified three distinct calling phases that many people experience.
Enter: This stage includes the first promptings of a calling experience, the first moment of awareness that something is stirring in my life and possibly guiding me to a new way of relating to others and the events of my life. I may not have words for it, but when someone or something points it out to me, I recognize it and seek to learn more. This stage is relatively short. As soon as my awareness shifts to exploring and learning, I have moved to the Engage stage.
Engage: This stage is exploratory and could last weeks, months or even years. I spend time using resources online or in print to make sense of the calling I’m experiencing. I’m engaged with the content of my calling experience, but I’m engaged on my own because I sense the deep value of what is happening, and I’m not sure of what it means or how it will change me and my relationships. I’m both curious and timid… excited and afraid. So, I secretly explore in a safe way or maybe I’ll share my experience with one other trusted person until I respond to the urge to engage more out in the open with a larger circle of trusted companions.
Embrace: This stage is distinct from the other two because community is now a part of my experience. I join with others online or in person to walk my calling journey with people who are also following various callings from God. This “church” gathering experience could be in a home, in an online social media group, in a coffee shop, in a church, or in some other digital or physical space. The key is that I have responded to the call to be in union with other people on the calling journey. This stage does not end. I simply explore the ever-evolving mystery of calling in a communal context for the rest of my life.
While stage three is ongoing, the whole 3-part process can cycle over and over as well. While I’m in a faith community exploring my callings, it is possible that I will enter a new calling experience that I will want to engage and explore by myself for a time before I bring it to light in the communal embrace. The next video will explore the Enter-Engage-Embrace process in greater detail.