Discerning Church's Call to Ministry vs. People Just Being Polite

Lukemk824

Puritan Board Freshman
Hi friends,

I have been convinced that God does not call pastors but rather the local church confirms the giftedness of a man and encourages him to pursue pastoral ministry.

For those of you who agree with this view, how do we tell the difference between genuine and wise encouragement for someone to pursue pastoral leadership/teaching and people just being nice and saying “good sermon” or other non-genuine niceties? Hope this makes sense; will be happy to expound as needed.

Thanks !

EDIT: I guess ignore my addressing this to those of similar conviction. You don't have to agree with my position to be able to give advice on what I am asking about.
 
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Lukemk824

Puritan Board Freshman
Good question but if you’re giving sermons to the congregation aren’t you already ministering in a leadership capacity?
Maybe I should not have said sermons, but any teaching opportunity that is witnessed by the church. I do know of a lot of churches will let young men give a message or communion meditation under the leadership's guidance/supervision.
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
I have been convinced that God does not call pastors but rather the local church confirms the giftedness of a man and encourages him to pursue pastoral ministry.
Why are you convinced that there is no call by God? That’s the starting point and the criteria by which a congregation evaluates.
 

Lukemk824

Puritan Board Freshman
Why are you convinced that there is no call by God? That’s the starting point and the criteria by which a congregation evaluates.
I guess it depends on what you considered a call by God. But too much of a reliance on that gives many unequipped men an excuse for pastoral vocation. You can tell them they are not equipped or fit for it, but they will just say, "but I was called by God".
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
For those of you who agree with this view, how do we tell the difference between genuine and wise encouragement for someone to pursue pastoral leadership/teaching and people just being nice and saying “good sermon” or other non-genuine niceties? Hope this makes sense; will be happy to expound as needed.

When someone is being encouraged to pursue the ministry, especially the pastorate, I always am the voice of caution. And I really mean it. Here's a quote from my response of mine to another post titled Licensure.

A word of wisdom that I offer to all upstart preachers.

If there is any possible way for you to avoid the ministry, especially the pastorate, by all means, avoid it.
But, if you can't imagine life in any other vocation then follow your path with all your might depending only on Him for the power to do so.

At least in the USA, we have had our fill of failed ministers. I consider encouraging a man towards the ministry a solemn thing indeed. As an elder in the OPC, our session would only take the full-year option for interns. Several months is not enough. At the end of the year, we discouraged several interns from pursuing the ministry. We took it all with the utmost seriousness.
 

iainduguid

Puritan Board Sophomore
When someone is being encouraged to pursue the ministry, especially the pastorate, I always am the voice of caution. And I really mean it. Here's a quote from my response of mine to another post titled Licensure.



At least in the USA, we have had our fill of failed ministers. I consider encouraging a man towards the ministry a solemn thing indeed. As an elder in the OPC, our session would only take the full-year option for interns. Several months is not enough. At the end of the year, we discouraged several interns from pursuing the ministry. We took it all with the utmost seriousness.
I hear what you are saying here, and I myself have had to dissuade several men from pursuing full time ministry (after completing seminary). I don't have a perfect track record, however; though most of the men I discouraged are not in gospel ministry today, a couple are now profitably serving Christ's church (one after enduring a predictable train wreck early on in ministry, followed by several years out of ministry before finally returning to an effective ministry).

As for the advice to avoid the pastorate if you can do anything else (fairly common in Britain when I was growing up, especially due to Lloyd-Jones influence), again I understand the concern but find it hard to square with 1 Tim 3:1: "If anyone aspires to be an elder, he aspires to a noble task". So when young men come to me sensing a call to be a pastor, rather than discouraging them, I encourage them to view it as a call to deeper discipleship, in whatever form that may take. Just because they feel called, doesn't mean they will end up as a minister. I felt called to my homeland as a pastor, but the Lord has never opened the door for me to serve there. What he has done is open the door for other kinds of service. So too, a young man feeling called to the pastoral ministry is asking to be discipled in pursuit of the godly character of 1 Timothy 3, as well as growing in knowledge of the Scriptures, theology, church history, etc, and learning how to love people well. I would that all the young men I have ever pastored had a similar desire! Now if they don't desire to grow in Godliness, grace and a knowledge and love for people, but just aspire to the title, I can be pretty sure they aren't called (at least, not yet), but wouldn't it be a good thing for them to find that out and in the process learn more about their own hearts?

I guess what I am saying is that instead of discouraging young men who feel a sense of call, I would encourage local churches to respond by mentoring them well to explore whether the call is real. In the process, a precious opportunity for the discipleship of the young man presents itself. Even if he is not called to the pastorate, perhaps he may serve some day as a ruling elder, or simply be a godly husband and father. That time spent discerning gifting and calling will surely not be wasted.
 

Ben Zartman

Puritan Board Sophomore
"No man calls himself to the ministry, but is called of God, as was Aaron."
The call to the ministry is issued by God, and confirmed by the church. There is the inward call of desire for a "good work," which if the church confirms, is the go-ahead to the aspirant.
The call is not a vision, or a "God told me," but a desire born of right motive.
OP: please listen to A. N. Martin's "A call to the Ministry" series, which is probably on Sermonaudio. It's very good on this subject.
 

Morgan

Puritan Board Freshman
I disagree with you, God calls men and not the church. I think it's a problem when the church has to convince a man he should be in ministry, if he doesn't know it then he's not called. If he doesn't desire it then nobody can put that desire into him.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
It is wrong to set an internal call against an external call. There are both - internal (God's calling that we recognize) and external (the approbation of the Church). Both are needed. I have written a short piece on this in Tabletalk Magazine that you might find helpful:


Edmund Clowney has a fuller treatment in his book "Called to the Ministry"
 

Μαρτιν

Puritan Board Freshman
Read Brakels Christian's Reasonable Service (chapter 27, Book 2). It realy helped me dealing with this issue: "This commission is both internal and external. An extraordinary, divine declaration is not an element of this internal commission. God does not do this, or does so only on very rare occasions, and thus one need not wait for this. There are other matters by which one may be assured of his internal calling." After this quote Brakel gives some great down to earth guidelines concerning both the internal as external call.
 

Jerrod Hess

Puritan Board Freshman
Read Brakels Christian's Reasonable Service (chapter 27, Book 2). It realy helped me dealing with this issue: "This commission is both internal and external. An extraordinary, divine declaration is not an element of this internal commission. God does not do this, or does so only on very rare occasions, and thus one need not wait for this. There are other matters by which one may be assured of his internal calling." After this quote Brakel gives some great down to earth guidelines concerning both the internal as external call.
Wilhelmus always comes through
 
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