The purpose of the church is not just to win converts, but to make disciples. This means that our churches should strive to raise up Christian men and women who desire to serve God with their lives. For some, this will likely lead to the discernment of a calling to ministry of some sort. When this happens, it is important that the church is prepared to support, guide, and train the person who experiences the calling. Whether the calling be to pastoral ministry, youth ministry, the mission field, or something else, our churches should be prepared so that when someone answers “yes” to a calling, the church can faithfully and wisely help them discern where to go and what to do next.
Church members should be constantly in prayer that God will raise up disciples who will speak for Him. Pray over the children and youth of your church. Pray for the men and women of the church. Pray that God will soften hearts to His call. When someone responds to that call, pray faithfully for them – and let them know you are praying! Perhaps they will have specific prayer requests. Maybe there is a sin in their life they are working to overcome. Perhaps they do not know where to go to receive an education to pursue ministry. Perhaps they are contemplating a career change and a pay cut and are worried about providing for their family if they go into ministry. Have a team of prayer warriors can make all the difference in the life and ministry of someone whom God calls to serve.
Appoint leaders in your church to mentor those who are new to ministry to help them navigate the day-to-day joys and anxieties of vocational ministry. Allow those who discern a call to ask tough questions and to struggle with their calling. Share your own testimony with them – your strengths, your weaknesses, and how God has used you anyway. Ministry is not for the faint of heart – those called should be prepared for the challenges it brings. However, they should also know that when they are discouraged, they are in good company, for many of God’s faithful have failed or been at a loss for what to do, only to see God work in amazing ways through the weakness of His chosen.
All of us are fallen, and that includes those who are called to ministry. Be a safe space for future leaders of the Kingdom to express their failures and admit their faults so they may be held accountable by people who love them and believe in them. Counseling is not just about confessing sin, however. It is also about learning to care for yourself while serving in ministry. Good Christian counsel can help ministers to be emotionally, mentally, and spiritually sound enough to make decisions and relate to others in Christ.
Someone who is just understanding that they are called to ministry may not have a clue where to begin. Churches can help these people walk through the process of finding a seminary to attend, discerning what area of study to pursue, and initiate the process of becoming ordained. It is important to lay all the details on the table so that theological and pragmatic areas of ministry align and the person who feels called can make a decision based on where God has deemed to be their best fit.
Finally, it is the calling of a church to provide practical support to those called to ministry. Maybe this means something big, like helping them pay for school. Perhaps it is something smaller, but just as meaningful. Perhaps you are willing to babysit their kids while they attend seminary classes. Perhaps you are willing to cook meals or them when they are discouraged. Perhaps you send care packages to the college student pursuing ministry. There are a myriad of ways to offer support and care.
When the church has a support network in place to help disciples of Christ follow through with their calling, God can do amazing things.
Let the church arise!