Listen to God's voice for careers advice, Church tells young people

A five-session course, published by the Church of England, is encouraging groups of 13 to 18-year-olds to listen to God's voice for careers advice, before deciding what to do with their lives.

Many churches and youth organisations will start running the course on or around Vocations Sunday 2008 this weekend.

Exploring some of life's big questions, the 'Get a Life!' course uses fun activities, meaningful exercises, biblical parallels and specially written prayers to give young people a stronger understanding of their gifts and passions.

Within its five 90-minute sessions, the course recommends tuning in to Christ's call, warning that these days so many voices interfere with the initial soundings of a vocational call, from peers, the media and the Internet particularly.

A half-day of work-shadowing a good role model, which takes places between Session 4 and Session 5, reinforces how responding to that call - whether that be to become a world leader, work in an office or sweeping streets - leads to a rewarding opportunity to serve and minister to others, whatever line of work you are in.

All of the five sessions are packed with contemporary themes and interactive ideas to help young people listen to their calling and improve their job prospects.

The course has been authored by Tim Sledge, a vicar in Romsey, Hampshire, and Ally Barrett, a vicar in Huntingdon, and published by Church House Publishing. It is ideal as a pre or post-confirmation course, Lent course, or after school series or for thoroughly investigating the subjects of vocation and calling at any time of the year.

Course breakdown:

Session 1, called 'Gifts: Have You Got the X Factor?', encourages a group of young people to write something they admire about each other on a piece of paper stuck to their backs; and a buried treasure game uncovers symbols representing gifts that aren't always recognised.

Session 2, 'Vocation: It's Your Call', defines the meaning of 'vocation' and focuses on the Bible stories of Elijah hiding in the cleft (1 Kings) and the boy Samuel in the temple (1 Samuel) to study the call of God; it challenges the teenagers to spend an evening without television/radio, phone, texting or Internet to underline how many 'voices' impact modern life.

Session 3, 'Ministries: Working Them Out', looks at how people in different professions serve others, and presents a speed debating session featuring good role models from the local church who feel they are ministering in their occupations. This helps a young person think about what job they want to do, which college they would like to go to, and which course they would like to do.

Session 4, 'Losing and Gaining a Life', looks at the sacrifices and benefits of serving, focusing on the fishermen in the Gospel of Luke and the things they gave up and gained to follow Christ and drawing on scenes from the film Billy Elliot, to illustrate the sacrifices made by the main characters as Billy moves towards his true vocation.

Session 5, 'Becoming Me: Action Reflection Time', reflects on the things learned from the half-day of work-shadowing a good role model; analyses the qualities needed in a national hero to fill the empty fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square; focuses on how Jesus came "so that everyone would have life, and have it in its fullest" (John 10:10); and demonstrates how we should all be ourselves, through the dropping of unique stones with rough edges into a bowl of water to make ripples.

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