By Scott Pace
Have you ever had a sinking feeling that there’s a bigger problem lurking around the corner?
Maybe you have noticed drops of oil on your garage floor or a water stain forming on your ceiling. These types of scenarios are examples of small symptoms that reveal much deeper problems beneath the surface.
Whether they are the result of unintentional oversights or reveal some level of negligence on our part, left unaddressed you can be certain that the cost and collateral damage will be far greater than if you confront the issue head on.
In recent decades the focus in the church has shifted away from intentional efforts to invite believers to consider vocational ministry as a calling. As a result, there’s a leadership famine in our local churches.
There are a variety of factors that have contributed to this trend, but perhaps the greatest obstacle we face is simply an unintended one. Our desire to mobilize the church, emphasize spiritual community and authorize every member to live on mission, has essentially neutralized a call to vocational ministry.
It is important for us to affirm that, indeed, in the church there is no spiritual “varsity” team of leaders and “junior varsity” team of laity. God has called all believers to serve the local church and fulfill the Great Commission. In this sense, there is a “universal calling” for all believers to serve the Lord and actively participate in his mission.
So-called “secular” vocations are intended by God to be missional platforms in our culture and communities. In fact, these vocational callings are an essential part of the gospel mission being accomplished.
At the same time, we must be careful that we do not undermine the ministerial calling of some in a well-intended (and biblically accurate) effort to affirm the value of every believer in God’s Kingdom.
While there is a “universal calling” for all believers, there is also a “unique calling” for each individual disciple. When we consider the missional heart of our heavenly Father and the size of the task at hand, we can recognize the need for all believers, regardless of their vocational capacity, to leverage their unique calling for the cause of Christ.
The pathway forward
If we are going to commit ourselves to “calling out the called,” we must also consider some practical ways we can do this in our ministries that are both biblically sound and personally responsible. It starts with a patient mindset and a humble faith that pursues more of a climate change in our ministries rather than creating lightning-strike moments.
Calling should simply become a concept that is regularly talked about in our ministry in a variety of ways.
Here are some examples.
- Extend invitations
Perhaps the most obvious way that we can cultivate this type of “calling culture” is to regularly include a ministerial calling and its possibility as part of our invitations for response. If our listeners are not aware or do not know that it is an option to prayerfully consider, it is more difficult for them to discern this type of calling as part of God’s will for their lives.
- Share testimonies
Personal testimonies of those who have been called into vocational ministry can help our people disarm their fears and clarify their understanding to consider what full-time ministry service really involves. Our own experience of discerning and answering God’s call can be used by the Lord to encourage our people to consider their calling.
- Celebrate the church
Sometimes we can also be guilty of bemoaning our ministry responsibilities or complaining about relational dynamics in the church. Instead, we should model a love for the church as the body and bride of Christ that is positive, affirming and exhibits gratitude for the privilege of serving the Lord in a ministry capacity.
- Provide opportunities
A primary element of discerning a call to ministry involves discovering your spiritual passions and gifts through service opportunities. We must encourage, enable and empower others to do the work of the ministry. As people begin to explore, exercise and employ their spiritual gifts, they may also begin to discern God’s calling on their lives to serve in a similar vocational capacity.
- Train leaders
As we cultivate a ministry environment that cooperates with the Spirit in “calling out the called,” we must be prepared to mentor and invest in those who discern a call to vocational ministry. Nothing will substitute for your personal involvement in their lives, and in many ways the discipleship process is identical to what we would do for every follower of Christ.
By integrating some of these principles and practices into our ministries, we can help facilitate healthy conversations with our people that can lead to prayerful consideration about their potential ministerial calling.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was originally published by Biblical Recorder.
‘Invaluable’ lessons I learned from Adrian Rogers
By Brad Whitt
The Christian Index
We recently marked the 18th anniversary of the passing of my pastor, Adrian Rogers. As a seminary student at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary and church member at Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tennessee, under Rogers, I had the privilege of being in the presence of a remarkable man of faith and wisdom, one of the 20th Century’s great leaders and preachers.
In my time with and around him, I learned invaluable lessons that continue to shape my Christian life and ministry. Here are 10 things I learned from being around my pastor, Adrian Rogers:
- He loved Jesus
His love for Jesus Christ was palpable. You heard it in every sermon and felt it in every conversation. His unwavering faith and devotion to our Savior served as a constant reminder of the profound impact a personal relationship with Christ can have on one’s life. He often said, “Our love for Jesus ought to be the center and circumference of everything we do.”
- He loved the Bible
He had a deep love and reverence for the Word of God. He firmly believed the Bible was inspired, inerrant and the ultimate source of truth and guidance.
His commitment to studying and teaching from Scripture was a testament to the power of God’s Word in transforming lives.
His love for God’s Word compelled him to lead the Southern Baptist Convention back to a commitment to the truthfulness and authority of the Bible.
- He loved people
One of his most striking qualities was his genuine love for people. You felt it whenever you were near him. Whether you were a member of Bellevue Baptist church or just a stranger he met on the street, he treated everyone with kindness, compassion and respect. As his family noted, he was the same in the pulpit as outside the pulpit. His love for people reflected Christ’s command to love our neighbors as ourselves.
- He loved the church
He had a heart for the local church. He understood the vital role that the church plays in the life of a believer and the community. His commitment to strengthening and growing the church was unwavering. This love enabled him to lead Bellevue to become one of the largest and strongest churches in the nation — if not the world.
- He loved preaching the gospel
The pulpit was his passion, and proclaiming the Good News was his focus. He approached preaching with passion and conviction, proclaiming the gospel message with clarity and boldness. He believed that sharing the Good News of Christ’s salvation was the most important task for any believer, and he demonstrated this in both his public and personal life.
- He loved preachers
He deeply loved and respected fellow ministers of the gospel. He mentored and encouraged many young preachers, recognizing the importance of equipping the next generation to proclaim God’s Word faithfully. The time he gave me as a young college and seminary student has left a deep, meaningful and lasting imprint on my life.
- He loved his denomination
He loved his Southern Baptist Convention. He understood the tremendous impact tens of thousands of churches could have for Jesus when united, under the Word of God, to get the gospel to the world. He believed that the body of Christ should be united in its mission to advance the Kingdom of God and worked with many missions organizations worldwide.
This love led him to be willing to serve three terms as president of the Southern Baptist Convention at a time when the battle for the Bible was hottest in his denomination. His election in 1979 is commonly used to mark the beginning of what came to be known as the Conservative Resurgence.
- He loved to laugh
Amid the seriousness of ministry, he had a wonderful sense of humor. He understood the value of laughter. His laughter was infectious and reminded us that even in challenging times, we can find moments of levity.
- He loved his friends
Pastor Adrian Rogers cherished his friendships. He understood the significance of having a support system and the encouragement from deep, meaningful relationships. His friends were a testament to the impact he had on others. You could tell the names of those he considered good friends when he would talk about them and share their stories in his sermons.
- He loved his family
Last but certainly not least, he profoundly loved his family. He demonstrated the importance of prioritizing family amid the demands of ministry.
His love and devotion to his wife, children and grandchildren were evident to all who knew him. His love for his family was obvious, evident and an example for all.