Forming Faith Blog

Three-Way Calling (October 17, 2021)

Sometimes we can be confused by messages that come from God. When we are confused, having someone else in the community to help us discern what God is calling us to do can be very helpful.

Young woman calling on a corded phone.
Three-Way Calling

When I was younger, three-way calling was a big deal. To be able to talk on the phone with multiple friends at the same time was a powerful experience for a young teen. We could form our own little circle for confiding in each other, making plans for our lunch break the next day, or planning our wardrobes. We could hang out for hours, much to the chagrin of our parents, with the cord of the phone stretched across the kitchen in an effort to get a little privacy. 

Today we have group conversations in different ways using online applications. Communication is an important part of daily life, and the ability to include multiple people in the same conversation is a real gift. When we involve more people in conversation, we gain additional perspectives. We enrich the experience. It may not seem as exciting as it was when party calls were new, but it’s still important.

Recognizing the Voices

Our story today is a bit of a three-way conversation. Samuel hears a message in the middle of the night, but he has a hard time recognizing the voice on the other end. He goes to Eli for help, and the group call begins. Eli coaches Samuel. Samuel now knows who is calling him and how to respond.

Eli was an integral part of Samuel’s growing up and learning in the temple. Samuel was being mentored. He had Eli to rely on and learn from. Eli knew that God had something specific in mind for Samuel, even if the details aren’t clear in this story. Samuel had the benefit of Eli’s experience and perspective. There was someone else available to help discern God’s voice and God’s message. Samuel needed a trusted guide to talk with that would walk with him. 

Expanding the Conversation

In our faith life, we often need to apply the same skills as those three-way calls. God speaks to us in many ways, but we may not always recognize it or understand the message right away. We may need the wisdom and experience of others. Our faith community can help us find perspective and insight. We do not have to do the work of discernment alone.

Connecting with Everyday Life
  • Encourage small groups to take time in their next meeting to identify God’s voice in their daily lives. Invite these groups to share how God is speaking to them today.
  • Affirm the calling of the young people in your congregation and highlight the importance of mentoring. Call your congregation back to the promises they make at a baptismal service to encourage the faith of every person who is called and named by God.
  • In worship, invite a couple of blindfolded volunteers to walk following a specific voice. At the same time, instruct others to make random sounds. Talk about the experience afterwards. How did the volunteers feel in trying to find their destination amid chaos?
  • This is an excellent opportunity to share a part of your own personal call story, or to invite others to share their stories about being called to serve God.
Called by God

We each have been called to serve God. God calls us to a life of serving in baptism. We are called to love God and to love our neighbors. Figuring out how to best use our gifts in this service can be a life-long journey, and it can be a journey we share with our faith community.  Part of being the church is walking the walk of discernment with each other. Sometimes our friends and family can see things in us that we don’t recognize in ourselves. Like Samuel, we can benefit from a trusted friend or mentor to help us recognize when the call is coming and help us respond.

In Christ,
Michelle Ketepa

Michelle Ketepa is a coach and author.  She is a mother of three girls and has 25 years of professional experience in family, youth, and children’s ministries.  She currently resides in Southeast Michigan and continues to serve God as a volunteer at First Presbyterian Church in Warren.

During the main Narrative Lectionary year (this year: Sept 12 to June 5), we provide a free resource download from one of our products to help you in your faith formation ministry. This week, download the activity “My Eli” from our Living the Word: Kids (PK-2nd, NL) curriculum which can be used with many ages in many contexts!

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