Our Background


We believe vocation is communal. Today’s secular versions focus on the individual: what do I want to do with my life? But the Christian tradition believes callings serve the common good.

To rediscover vocation, let’s work together. Our initiative is a community of calling of its own. Our 14 congregations nurture each other’s callings, individual and collective, as we support our communities in turn. Our network of congregations and organizations working on calling in their own contexts is helping to revitalize the church’s mission in the world today.


We believe the church needs fresh language around God’s purposes in the world. Words like “vocation” and “calling” carry baggage in many traditions. But new words can change the conversation.

For example, prepositions like “of” signal relationship—the foundation of vocation. We are called by God, through others, for service.

We are working to reimagine language around calling, drawing on Christian traditions, wisdom, and practices.


We believe each person is called by God all life long. Vocations aren’t just for ordained ministry or traditional professions. Our callings are multiple: to relationships, work, and communities. Our vocations can change over time.

Practices of vocation—like prayer, discernment, and story-telling—can deepen our sense of calling. We can start to see how we have been called in the past and where God might be leading us forward.

Vocation is the story of our lives.

Beginning in 2010, the Collegeville Institute Seminars launched 3 seminars on vocation:

As part of our theological work on calling, we created resources for congregations:

The Communities of Calling Initiative now expands the Collegeville Institute’s work on vocation as we collaborate with congregations to create new resources for the church.

The Communities of Calling Initiative is a project of the Collegeville Institute. The mission of the Institute is to discern the meaning of Christian identity and unity in a religiously and culturally diverse world, and to communicate that meaning for the work of the church and the renewal of human community.

The Institute houses:

Our innovation hub draws upon the Institute’s vision of “exploring faith, igniting imagination, renewing community.”

In January 2018, Lilly Endowment, Inc., awarded the Collegeville Institute a five-year, $2.6 million grant to coordinate the “Called to Lives of Meaning and Purpose Initiative.” This coordination initiative is helping religious organizations work with congregations in launching ministries that help Christians discover and claim how God is calling them to lead lives of meaning and purpose.

The aim of the coordination initiative is twofold:

  1. to deepen and enrich the lives of Christians by equipping them to discern and live out their callings,
  2. and to enhance the vitality of congregations by developing new ministry models for inspiring and supporting the Christian callings of their members.

The Endowment funded the following 13 innovation hubs from around the country to participate in the coordination initiative:

  • American Baptist College
  • Baylor University
  • Boston University School of Theology
  • Collegeville Institute
  • Fuller Theological Seminary
  • Hope College
  • Louisville Seminary
  • Regent College
  • Samford University Center for Congregational Resources
  • Samuel De Proctor Conference
  • Vibrant Faith
  • Virginia Theological Seminary
  • Whitworth University

Staff from each hub will meet annually in Indianapolis. They will also have the opportunity to join research seminars on a particular aspect of vocation, congregational learning, or innovation design theory. The coordination grant will extend the Collegeville Institute Seminars’ research on vocation by inviting hub leaders to develop seminars on specific topics related to vocation in the Christian life.

Call & Respond—Your Vocation Tool Kit!

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