Recognizing Your Call to the Ministry
Bro. John Grant – Madison, Wisconsin – The will of God for a person’s life is easily identified if he follows the Bible formula in Romans 12:1-2. That is, because the individual is a living sacrifice, he must do the will of God on a daily basis. That means he doesn’t look to the future about his calling, He walks through the doors that are opened to him today. If God has a pulpit ministry for a person, the doors will open for him in that direction. A man’s gifts and calling will make way for themselves.
Personally, I don’t think we’ve made it hard enough to get a minister’s license. While I don’t think a Bible college degree should be required, every God-fearing man should educate himself in all areas of the ministry and the Bible that he can. A Bible-based curriculum of study is extremely important.
It’s the local pastor’s responsibility to make sure that a man is qualified for the ministry. The pastor should never recommend a man that he knows is not qualified. Also, the district plays an important role. For example, in our district, we require a considerable amount more reading than just the minimal UPC requirements. And we also give them a test. Most men, if you grant them a license, will eventually qualify themselves. But we like to start them out right.
Bro. Jerry Jones – Bridgeton, Missouri – Some training has got to be done for those who feel a call to preach. The responsibility for this rests first upon the young person. But the young person must be willing to submit to the pastor, who takes him under his wing and puts him through a training program. Eventually, it’s the pastor who’s going to make or break him. After that, the hoard will generally operate on the recommendation of the pastor as to whether the young person receives a license.
I think the current licensing system is good. Sometimes, though, it’s not followed properly. Here’s how it’s supposed to work: A young person, after he has preached an average of a sermon a month for a year, gets a local license. He still is under the pastor, though, and has no right to evangelize or start a church. For that, he needs a general license.
Yet I’ve known people who started pastoring with just a local license. It isn’t designed to be that way! Only when the person is ready to leave a local church should he be given a general license and strike out on his own.
So if the young person is willing to cooperate with his pastor and submit to adequate training, he’ll be a success. Our system is fine, and adequately prepares future ministers when it’s followed.
Bro. Howi Tiller – Omaha, Nebraska – It used to be quite easy to get a license in many districts. But now, many districts, including Nebraska, have added requirements. So I’d say it’s about right. I think in addition to good ministerial reading material, a person should have to read the Bible through to get a license. Also, there should be some training in finances.
Bro. R. D. Whalen – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – As a pastor, the first thing I would want to know from a young person who says he is called to preach is how dedicated to God he is. There must be some sincere personal commitment. If all he has is the desire to preach, but he has no prayer life or commitment or personal convictions, then it’s not likely that he’s truly called to preach.
Bro. Kevin Erickson – Greenville, Ohio – I went to college to become a chef, but I began to feel a desire to see people’s lives changed, beyond just the desire to worship and attend church. Thankfully, I had a quality pastor who took me under his wings and trained me.
Bro. Anthony Maroni – Youngstown, Ohio – I feel like I received a pretty extensive training for the ministry from my pastor who taught me how to win the lost and teach home Bible studies. That’s the way it should be. I don’t feel a license should be an easy thing to obtain.
Bro. James R. Fielder – Portage, Indiana – The local pastor should be primarily responsible for a young man’s ministerial training. I don’t think Bible school should be a requirement, because there are men who sometimes come to God later in life who may have families and may be unable to attend. They could lake some correspondence courses, though.
Bro. Lloyd Dean – Morehead, Kentucky – The most convincing way to know you’re called to a pulpit ministry is that you can’t get the feeling out of your system. I think the UPC has the right policy on licensing ministers. They make the requirements stiff enough that only a select few are licensed. But it’s easy enough that if you’re truly called, you will be licensed.
(from IBC Perspectives – Volume 4 – Issue 1 – page 2)