I haven't been talking much about my lay ministry program. That's because we're on hiatus for the summer; we don't have another retreat coming up until the end of September, when we're going to be continuing our study of the Old Testament and, if memory serves, practicing our preaching skills. (I'm looking forward to this because, even after several lay sermons under my belt, I don't feel as if I'm preaching; I feel like a writer giving a public reading; just not the same. I want to be able to wean myself away from the hard copy and just talk to people without my thoughts dissolving into gibberish.)
Our training break is a good thing for me, because after several months of immersing myself in this endeavor I have some time to process everything I've learned and experienced since February. We covered so much biblical material, both in our trainings and in my online Torah class, that I feel compelled to go over it again before the next retreat.
I'm still committed to sticking with the program as long as they'll have me. Technically, I'm still an applicant, not a candidate; when we had our orientation several weeks ago, and one of my fellow newbies asked how and when we are officially welcomed into the program, the response we got was somewhat vague -- there's a largely undefined evaluation process (With whom? Evaluating what? For how long?) that goes on before we get the acceptance letter in the mail. Me being an anxious sort with definite suck-up/overachiever tendencies, I immediately began to worry about not making the cut. I'm still mildly nervous, the way I am before an annual evaluation at work, but I'm not losing sleep over it.
An interesting phenomenon I've been noticing in myself: After these past months of mostly thinky, academic training sessions, I'm starting to shift my focus to actual ministry: What am I going to do with this? The other day I had occasion to be in a senior apartment complex where some local clergyperson was conducting a worship service for the residents; as I walked past, I found myself wondering how I'd go about setting up my own worship service for various small groups. While blog-surfing the other day, I thought about something my pastor had said about creating an online presence for our church, and I started thinking, "If I were going to design a blog for our church, what might it look like?" Or what other kind of ministry-oriented blog might I want to start, on my own time, for the virtual community? Is there some other activity I can do that involves writing? Or maybe my real vocation involves something I haven't even thought of yet.
The CEO is being very coy about details, by the way. The last time I asked, the response was, "You'll see." (He strings me along like this all the time. I think it's so I keep talking to him.)
This discernment process is something very interesting and mysterious and even exciting.