One overlooked aspect of obedient living in churches is the surrender to the call of vocational ministry. Today, it is rare to see someone surrender to missions or to vocational ministry. Some might say, “It’s the sign of the times.” While this may play a part, the current models for discipleship lack a priority of service. As a result, fewer Christians are aware it exists or that it could possibly apply to them. Therefore, additional steps are needed to focus on the priority of obedience with service that may lead to vocational ministry. Following are three steps your church can take to champion vocational ministry service.
Highlight God’s call to special service in discipleship and preaching.
In both the Old and New Testaments, God calls people to service. Most of them are familiar stories: Moses in the burning bush, the twelve disciples, and Saul (Paul) on the road to Damascus, to name a few. We may be tempted to skip over the calling and get to the message these men of God delivered. Perhaps, we feel some of these callings to service in ministry, like Moses and Saul (Paul), were so miraculous that they wouldn’t be applicable today. However, in some cases, God needs to use extreme measures to get our attention and to radically redirect our lives. When we lead a small group or preach a sermon, people need to see how God calls people to service and then evaluate His work in their own lives. If we skip or do not highlight the calling of God’s people in our text, we will miss some very valuable lessons. Someone under our leadership may be the next one God calls to serve in ministry. Thus, through the examples of others’ ministry calls, including your own, believers can begin to see how God worked to call others and then follow God’s nudge to be obedient to the call to the ministry.
Show others how their God-given gifts can be used for kingdom service.
God’s people are not called to be spectators but participants in the work of the Lord. Unfortunately, in our society today, often our Sunday life is disconnected from the rest of the week. Some choose to disconnect their Christian lives from the workplace and other areas of life. However, other Christians may simply lack the understanding of the relevance and significance of demonstrating their identity in Christ, not only on Sunday, but also in the workplace as well as in all other areas of their lives.
In my Old Testament and New Testament survey classes at Shorter University, one of my goals is to help our freshman students see that their life journey and future vocational goals are all part of God’s plan. Just as God did with Moses and Joseph, God uses all aspects of our lives and experiences to equip us to serve Him. Even the hardships and the blessings are part of His developing us for service.
As ministers, part of our task is to help others recognize that their life journey is about more than establishing a career to make money. It is also about being ambassadors for Christ in all aspects of life. As people begin to see how their work is a calling from God, we can then lead them to serve in missions or bi-vocational service.
Make accepting the call to ministry part of your church’s invitation.
With the knowledge and expectation that God calls us to serve, we should champion service and ministry as we do other calls to obedience. Each Sunday during an invitation, we invite people to accept salvation, to show obedience through baptism, or to join the fellowship of our church. The gospel is a call to action. Thus, church invitations should include the call to surrender to serve God vocationally. We will not see the desired outcome if it is never expected.
When I was a teenager, I became aware of my call to ministry because my church had the expectation that God was in the business of calling people into the ministry. Each year, we had three to four men and women surrender to missions or vocational service. Imagine the possibilities for your church if God began to raise up leaders with faithful commitment to the gospel to serve in ministry.
Romans 10:14-15 says, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? [c] And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (ESV)
Notice the use of the word how in the above verses: five times. The importance of this word should spur our churches to champion the causes set forth here, including the invitation and expectation to be obedient and to serve in ministry.Those of us who have been called by God in this way should champion God’s call to others.
Thus, I encourage ministers and their churches to highlight the call to service in ministry and missions, to assist their people in identifying how to use their God given gifts in God’s service, and to offer the invitation to accept God’s call to ministry as vital part of each invitation offered at churches.