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Billy Elliot shows churches how to follow God’s call

Churches across England will be encouraged to look to the story of young ballet dancer Billy Elliot next Lent. Church House Publishing - the Church of England’s publishing arm - is releasing Life Calling, which suggests using extracts from the popular film as a way of exploring the dynamics of discovering a special calling.

The five-part course, designed to be run by local churches as a Lent course, will use clips from the film alongside Bible readings, prayer and group activities to help churchgoers reflect on the meaning of ‘vocation’. The course reinforces the idea of vocation as much more than a calling ‘to be a vicar’ – it stresses that all Christians are called to explore their gifts and passions, and to use those in the service of the Church and the wider world.

The course has also won praise from world-renowned leadership expert John Adair: “Life Calling will help the members of any local congregation to discover (or rediscover) for themselves the meaning of Christian vocation – in general and in individual life and work, it’s a course that I for one have long waited to see.”

“The truth is,” the course explains, “God has made each of us in his own image, and calls us to follow him, discovering and exercising the particular skills and gifts he has given us, growing into the unique fullness of the person he has called us to be.”

The course, arranged in 90-minute sessions, explains that careful, meditative reading of the Bible, regular prayer, keeping a reflective journal, listening to our friends and family, and being open to the insights that come from God’s action in daily lives can help guide our futures. Using these methods, participants are encouraged to create a ‘Personal Action Plan’ to help them continue to explore what God is calling them to do in their own lives – both at work and at home - to further His will on earth.

Among the Bible stories used as focus points in the course, the story of creation and Abram’s call in the Book of Genesis encourage participants to reflect on the sweeping history of God’s relationship with humankind. Jesus’ offer of rest to the weary and his challenge to the rich tax-collector Zacchaeus are used to encourage discussion about how to break free of bad habits and distractions and listen to God’s call.

Written by Kate Bruce, a chaplain at the University of Durham, and Canon Robert Warren, former Team Rector of St Thomas’ in Sheffield, the course is the fourth in a series exploring how to apply Biblical teaching to daily life.

Vocations Sunday, marked on the fourth Sunday of Easter (13th April 2008) is a day set aside for particular reflection on what God might be calling people to, and the Life Calling course could be timed to culminate on this date, in time for a special celebratory service or other event.

Life Calling, priced £4.50 (ISBN 978-071514137-3), is available from Christian bookshops and via mail order on the web.