It’s been pointed out that the only way that you know if you’ve been called to pastoral ministry is not through an inner prompting, though some may experience this, it’s also not about having a few friends saying that they think you might be good at it. Rather, it’s about having a local church who have actually, directly and clearly called you to serve them. There is however, another factor required.
In Acts 13, the leaders of the church in Antioch, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, set apart and sent out Paul and Barnabas. A calling to Gospel ministry will involve being called by a church but, unless you are called to work in a church where you already belong, there will also be a sending. This is also important because if someone is setting out as a missionary or pioneer planter, then they are unlikely to have a church waiting to call them. It is the sending and commissioning church that has also called them to that work on their behalf.
So, first of all, a general point. I want to suggest that all churches should be prayerfully seeking to raise up and send out people to serve the Gospel. This should be part of your desire and DNA even if you are still very small. By the way, I’m not into the language of “send your best” because this puts hierarchies into the church that shouldn’t be there. Don’t send your best but do send people who are gifted and qualified, even if that’s a sacrificial and costly thing to do. I would encourage church leaders and elders to have as a regular agenda item for their meets “is there anyone we should be seeking to send out.”
Secondly, a specific request. I write often here about the need for urban pioneer church planters. People willing to come in twos and threes, to settle in an area, open their homes and get to know people. Whilst they are doing this and planting a church from scratch, training and equipping will be available too.
For those people to come, at some point they will need you, if you are their church leaders, to set them apart and send them. Now in some cases, this will be prompted by them coming and asking you whether or not they should come. However, for others, the decision making process might just start by you prompting them to begin praying and talking about such a move.
So, today, I’m appealing to church leaders, pastors and elders. Could you set aside a couple of people and send them to get involved in this harvest field here? Please drop me a line if this might be possible.