My pastor recently pointed me toward John Ortberg's article, "Call Forwarding" expressing concern about fewer young people responding to God's call to vocational ministry.
In the last few years in listening to college students, I heard many expressing a sense of God's call, but very few were sensing a call to pastor a church...most were talking about youth or college ministry. But, those who sensed a calling to pastor a church almost always spoke of planting a church....not going to an established church.
I think part of the problem lies in the fact that we don't talk about calling much anymore....we are trying really hard to relate to those who are turned off to church and we are dealing with so many Christians who seem to have little knowledge of scripture, that calling just doesn't make it into our talks (College Ministers do more "talks" than sermons.).
Some years ago a friend who worked for one of our mission agencies said their experience was that more young people sensed a call to missions in small churches rather than in large churches.
Here are 5 things you might make sure is happening in your College Ministry:
1. Talk about calling regularly.
-How does one feel called?
-how does one know it is God's call or will?
-What are different types of ministry God calls people to? When I first sensed God's call to ministry, I had
Not been to college yet and had never seen a College Minister.
2. Help students know that usually God's call and the specifics of it are worked out over time and through a
variety of experiences. It usually doesn't arrived fully baked!
3. Work with those who express a sense or a question of calling.
-I have seen many who expressed a sense of calling not follow through on it and it seemed more that they just
never had any help in figuring it out. So, they called it some thing they did as a dumb kid.
-Help them process it and see what some options are that might fit their gifts.
4. Give them opportunities to serve.
-One of the ways God leads us to the specifics is through our different experiences
-Help them see if some part-time ministry position might be a step in discernment.
-BUT, walk with them through the part-time experience of seeing first hand that God's people sometimes act
petty and selfish. Sometimes idealism crashing into the reality of working with real people can be jolting!
-Ask them to do plain old simple things that need doing.
5. Work with their parents when necessary.
-Sometimes the biggest roadblock for a college student responding to God's call is their deacon father or
Women's ministry mother who have seen ministers mistreated and poorly paid.
One GREAT resource is Jeff Iorge's book, IS God Calling Me? It is not long and it is super practical. I have
Given one to each student who asked about calling ever since it was published. He is President of Golden Gate Seminary, but it is not a pointy head intellectual...it is aimed right at where your students are.
Why do students in smaller churches express a greater sense of calling to missions....perhaps their secret is individual attention.
petty and selfish, etc. Some have turned away from ministry when their idealism crashed into reality.