Main Content

Discernment Support

Developed by Rev. Jeannie Shero 

In addition to supporting ministerial students, your in care program can support people who are discerning whether to pursue a religious vocation of some kind.  It is recommended that discernment support be led by one minister on the steering committee that has strong pastoral skills and the ability to listen without over-directing.

Before organizing any event or offering discernment support, review Discernment Stages and Characteristics, and be aware that those seeking support will not all be in the same stage of discernment.

Ways to Facilitate Discernment 

  • Meet with someone two to three times to listen and offer relevant information. Ask the person to review questions for formation ahead of the meeting.
  • Make introductions to other people who can listen and offer suggestions, including other members of the steering committee.
  • Organize a clearness committee for an individual.
  • Organize a discernment event that includes a presentation on the realities of seminary led by a representative from a nearby theological school (or schools).  Gather names of potential invitees from area ministers, congregational leaders, the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Ministerial Credentialing Office, seminarians and other sources.   
  • Offer a small group discussion where multiple people considering ministry gather to consider questions and listen deeply to one another.
  • Lead workshops at cluster or district events about religious vocation possibilities, how congregations can be encouraging, and how your in care program can support those in discernment.

Ways to Fulfill a Religious Vocation

When offering discernment support, tell the person that there is more than one way to fulfill a religious vocation:

  • Professional ordained ministry
  • Professional credentialing by the UUA in religious education or music
  • Religious vocation in religious education, music, church administration or other areas—with training but not credentialing
  • Lay ministry

Those in discernment about religious vocation should be encouraged to be active in their congregations and to take advantage of leadership development opportunities.