Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Calling out the Called

Last week, I sent an 'open letter' to the members of our church with the sole intent of calling out the men of our congregation who are interested in pastoral ministry. It is my sincere hope that several men of sound confession and character will join this fellowship. I'm going to post the contents of that letter here, and I'd love your thoughts and feedback concerning it. So far, I've had six men who have come forward with an interest in being involved in this. Here are the contents:

Looking for a Few Good Men

Unless I am greatly mistaken, this newsletter article will only immediately affect around six to eight men in our fellowship. In a newsletter that is mailed out to around 262 homes that seems like an inefficient use of space, but I do not believe that this is the case. Indeed, while this article may only immediately affect six to eight men, the impact, I hope, will influence the entire church for years to come. This article is dedicated to the men in our congregation whom God has called or will call out to do pastoral ministry in this body. I will talk briefly about the individual call to this great task, the responsibility of the church in this task, my personal mission in this task, and finally why I believe this is very important for our church.

First, I want to ‘demystify’ the call to pastoral ministry. Men, you are not looking for a burning bush or an angelic messenger from heaven in order to know that God is calling you to pastoral ministry. All you have to have is a good testimony, a blameless lifestyle, and a strong to desire to learn the Word of God and to teach it to others (see 1 Timothy 3:1-7). Unfortunately, many ‘pastors’ testify that when God called them to preach that they ran away, only to be forced in some sort of wrestling match of God to finally surrender to the ministry. While that makes for a great story, and while it may be true of some, the fact is that the man called by God will actually want to do pastoral ministry. If you have a desire to learn and to grow in order to teach others to learn and to grow, see me for further details.

Secondly, I want to let the church know what her responsibility is in this ‘calling out’ process. First, we are to be on the lookout for the type of man described in 1 Timothy 3:1-7. Have you noticed a man who is blameless (not perfect) in his conduct? Is he able and eager to teach? Does he demonstrate loving affection toward his wife and children? Does he have a good reputation amongst those outside the church? Keep an eye on that man and encourage him to pursue the desire that God has placed in his heart. In Acts 13:2 we learn that the Holy Spirit spoke through the church to set Paul and Barnabas aside for their special work to which He called them. God still does that to men today in our midst. Look for them, encourage them, pray for them, and when one presents himself for service that you have had your eye on, rejoice! We are not to be pushy, simply encouraging. If you know someone like that, encourage them to come to the class I am about to talk about, and if you have questions or thoughts come and talk to me.

Thirdly, I want you to know that this desire I have is not just a ‘good idea’ I had while brainstorming in my office. It is, I believe, my direct responsibility to train men in this church for pastoral ministry. Paul wrote this to Timothy, and I believe that it applies to every pastor, “The things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). If a men desires to do the work of ministry, if the church affirms that this man displays the characteristics described in 1 Timothy 3:1-7, then it will be my sacred duty to help such a man grow and learn and to be the best that he can be. To that end, we will meet every other Thursday evening. We will study the Bible, books by God gifted teachers, discuss, give reports, learn to teach, and generally hold one another accountable. It will require serious thought, personal cost to buy the books, time spent in study and prayer, and a sincere devotion to this body of Christ that is called “Mount Calvary Baptist Church.” In the period between each meeting, I will personally meet with any man willing one on one at least once to discuss any questions and for general fellowship.

Finally, I want everyone to think about why this is so important for our church. Wisdom should inform us that the more mature our leadership the better our church will weather future storms. Further, it is not God’s intention for this church to be built around the cult of personality of one man. The early church did not have the convenience of heading down to the local association and picking up resumes when their pastor was martyred, died, or called to missions. They had to rely on God to raise up leadership from amongst themselves, and because they sought out this leadership, when one man was removed from the picture the church could function without a hitch. While the oversight of the ministries of this church will be my responsibility as long as it pleases this church andthe Lord, I am more than happy to share the burden and rewards of ministry with others.

The immediate effects of this ministry will, perhaps, be minimal. In the long term, I believe the impact will be great. We will have men who will be better Sunday School teachers, men who will begin new ministries in this church, and hopefully, God will raise up men from inside our own fellowship to come on staff and serve in ministry. That may be years down the road, but it is a future that I am hoping for. I am praying for God to call out young men from our number to serve in ministry, and I am praying that he will call out older ones as well. Man, are you excited about this? Then join me, I need your help. Church, do you believe that God can do great things through the men of our church? Pray that He will call them out. The nations are waiting, the fields are ripe for harvesting; pray that God will send laborers into His fields from our number.

If you are interested, talk to me after church, call me in the office, or stop by and see me there. We will begin the first Thursday of March. I look forward to growing with you.

Calling out the Called,

Bro. Brad


Jim said...

Brad, very well done. I appreciate the tone and content of your letter, and yes it is quite Biblically based.

I applaud your efforts to encourage the men of your church to take up the mantle of leadership.

Anonymous said...

May the church abound with those men willing, who HAVE been blessed with the touch of God, and gifts of the Spitit. I am grateful and thankful even now for what is to come. Let us all work together in God's Spirit to bring about the truth and power of the Lord in our opportunities, WITHOUT competing for brownie points or praise from our fellow man. Let all we do be based in total and complete humility, which God can then annoint. Let nothing be done out of a sense of "keeping up" or being "one up" or out of a sense of playing any favorites among us. Let all things be done in truth and in witness to the glory of our Lord and Savior. Let all things on our part be counted as dung, and all things for Christ be magnified and multiplied. Let none of us seek mans approval or popularity in our effort, but let us pursue His work in humility and in the power of His might. Let none of those who has been before us faithful at their task desire anything, but the rejoicing of the Lords hand on our church now. I thank God for our pastor.