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Encouraging young vocations
19/07/18

The vocations team at Coventry Diocese have been led and inspired by the national Church of England campaign to encourage ordained vocations amongst those in their teens, twenties and thirties. Over the last five years, the team has developed a Young Vocations Team known as ‘Nudge’ that have engaged with young people from across the diocese and beyond.

The name Nudge comes from the idea that calling to ministry often begins with a feeling that God may be nudging someone towards a particular route, and the fact that we all sometimes need a nudge from one another to take the first or next steps to exploring our vocation. Led by the Revd Ellie Clack, DDO and Vocations Adviser, the Nudge team have run evenings at the pub to encourage younger people to gather in an informal setting to talk about ministry with those who are already ordained.

The team have also had a stall at various events such as the Diocesan Centenary Festival to engage with the wider public about young vocations and offer support to young people keen to explore their vocation. The support Ellie and her team offer include spending time with potential candidates - chatting to them over coffee about some of the possibilities of ministry and their sense of calling - as well as offering the regular wider vocations evenings throughout the year.

Since the beginning of Nudge, the vocations team have seen the number of young people enter the discernment process rise. Currently over 40% of candidates in the formal discernment and selection processes are under the age of 40 and over half of the ordinands starting training this September are also under 40.

The Revd Lizzy Holland, curate at St John Baptist, Berkswell and a member of the Nudge team, is currently the youngest priest in the diocese at 27. She reflects on her call to ordination:

“I was 14 when I first felt God calling me to ordination. I was in the car with my family on the way back from a Christian youth camp and we were talking about ministry in the church and ministers in general and I felt this overwhelming sense of God saying to me "that's what I want you to do". I didn't really talk about it with anybody at the time but over the years the feeling became stronger and I was really encouraged by my church community which was a huge factor for me in being brave and stepping forward. The church I grew up in were so affirming of young people and I was given opportunities to preach, lead services, offer prayer ministry and engage in ministry in the church as a teenager and the congregation were always so supportive and encouraging. It made such a difference being in an environment where the whole congregation were passionate about seeing young people flourish and grow in their vocations. I actually made the first step of seeing a DDO years later when I was 21 and working for a church as a Children and Family Worker after going on a personal retreat and the strong sense of call returning with the feeling that God was telling me it was time to follow this path. It's a journey that has been challenging, exciting, exhausting, inspiring and so many other words, but having the privilege of serving Holy Communion this week to all our different congregations and year 6 pupils from the local school at a Leaver's Eucharist reminds me that every moment has been worth it. It is glorious to be where I know God has been calling for such a long time and my experience so far is that people love seeing a young priest. It's great to have a diverse priesthood and it's such a privilege to be part of building that collage.”

Lizzy offers this advice to young people exploring their vocation:

“Surround yourself with people who will challenge and encourage you in love.

Be prepared to be transformed as Christ works in you, but hold onto who you are and what makes you beautifully unique.

Hold onto everything that encourages you! I keep a scrapbook of encouraging cards, letters and everything else that inspires me to keep going when things feel tough.

Be brave and start talking to people about it. See if there are people around who will give you opportunities to expand your experiences of ministry and make space to chat to those closest to you to see what their thoughts are.

Look out for the young vocations team at events in the diocese and for dates for Nudge at the pub, which is an informal space to have vocation conversations!”

For more information on Nudge Vocations please see www.fb.com/nudgevocations

For all other vocations enquiries in the diocese please contact vocations@covcofe.org or ellie.clack@covcofe.org