Each summer, the Disciples of Christ youth in Oklahoma come together for a week of mission work in a different local community. July 7-11, I, along with the other Peace Interns, along with our fearless leader, Phoebe, and her band-mate, Zach, had the pleasure of being hosted by the gracious folks of Enid, Oklahoma. This year the event was called Mission Enid, and focused on the culture of Enid, the people of Enid, and the work the young members of our denomination were doing.
First of all, I must say that I LOVE this model of mission work. I’ve even started constructing (in my mind) my own version of it for my home state of Ohio. The idea of bringing around 150 high school and middle school students to an area in their own state to do mission work is refreshing. So often we forget that there is work that we can do in our own communities, and that we don’t need to spend loads of money to go somewhere fantastical; we can (and should!) provide service right here, in our own communities.
Each morning and evening all the youth and adults gathered together for worship. Throughout the week we heard about different occupations, and learned about how God might be calling each of us into these different occupations. In one evening worship service we went to the Enid Air Force Base and listened to a sermon from the Air Force Chaplain. He explained to us that some people feel that God is calling them to work in the military; he called us to listen to
God’s plan for us and realize that that call is not always into ministry, it manifests itself in many different ways.
One night we were met by a pastor of a local Disciples church. His sermon was a call to ministry, one such as I have never heard before. In a very powerful sermon Pat said to us: “this is your Call, you are all called, by God, to be a part of our church, to be present in our world. You are called to ministry.” This was the first time in my life that I had heard a call to ministry for such a large group, and it makes perfect sense. These young people gave up a week of their summer to do mission work in their own community, obviously they care, obviously, they are interested in being involved, and obviously, they felt some sort of call to come on this trip. Whether that call may have manifested itself as a physical call from a friend saying “hey, you should come work with us” or whether it was something like an unexplainable pulling at their heart strings, doesn’t matter—it is irrelevant because there was still a call involved.
Pat then shocked me with another statement. He said “I absolutely hate when people say that the young generation is the future of the church. You are not the future of the church. YOU ARE THE CHURCH.” We are the church today, we are not the future, but we are most certainly the present. We have a different way of looking at the world, we have a different way of looking at the church, and we are called to be present in it today. This is your call.
Cara McKinney is a 2014 Disciples Peace Fellowship Intern, sponsored by Disciples Center for Public Witness and Disciples Women.