I read a news release some time back about an organization that had announced that it would be giving away grants to local churches that motivate young Christians to enter into ordained ministry. Evidently, there is a shortage of new clergypersons to take the places of an aging ministry force.
In my years as a pastor, I have witnessed this shortfall. Fewer seminary students are seeking a career as senior or associate pastor. Many of those who graduate with advanced degrees do not plan to work in the local church. Bottom line: there is a shortage in many fellowships of newly assigned spiritual leadership.
This past week, I was speaking at an event and a young lady introduced herself to me at the conclusion of my talk. She delivered a message to me from her dad, whom I had baptized 25 years ago. Then she said, "My dad is now attending seminary, and he is reading one of your books." I was amazed. All of those years had passed, but God continued to work in that man's life — eventually directing him into ministry.
That event of a few days ago caused me to stop and think of the many in my congregations who had followed the Lord's call full-time. I am sure you can see the faces of those you influenced who are now walking in your footsteps. Can there be a greater thrill than to see the hand of God directing the path of those you shepherd?
I can also think back to the many times, as a teenager or college student, that a man of God would preach a message imploring those present to "surrender" to God's call. They would often quote from Acts 16:9, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." Or from Matthew 4:19, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men."
You know what I think? I think that we would have more of our congregants entering into ministry if, one, we were more positive about the experience; two, we would challenge them; and three, we would recognize the value of God's unique call.
When was the last time you presented a message like that? I found the following outline in my Bible today. It's all yours.
- God's Purpose.
- God's Timing.
- God's Person.
Be blessed and be a blessing.