Creating a Culture of Call

April 12th, 2013

Thirty years ago, I was one of four people who answered a call to pastoral ministry. Not surprising, perhaps, or even remarkable . . . until one considers that all four of us came from the same small congregation of one hundred souls. I’m not sure why that tiny congregation produced so many leaders—two pastors, a missionary, and a seminary professor—but there was, I know, a culture of call in that church.

And what is culture?

For a congregation, culture is comprised of those underlying commonalities shared by the whole. Music can be a part of a congregation’s culture—so can architecture, worship traditions, and the various methods used to educate and socialize. But “call” can also be a part of a culture. Some congregations have an underlying expectation that God will raise up new leaders from among them. Not just pastors—but missionaries, teachers, and youth leaders, too.

Does your congregation have a culture of call?

Have a look. One interesting exercise would be to delve into your congregation’s history and make a list of those individuals who answered a call to ministry. History can help to describe a congregation’s culture of call.

For example, a congregation that has had a consistent history of raising up leaders can be described as a “call” congregation. Or perhaps there have been periods when people have emerged as leaders, followed by more fallow times. One might then ask: What makes the difference? How are people hearing God’s call?

A sense of call can be developed, however, and there are some methods and approaches that can help in the raising up of future leaders. Here are five approaches that, when practiced consistently, will eventually raise up people who sense God’s call in their lives.

1. At least once a year, preach a message on God’s call and suggest that there may be people in the congregation whom God is indeed calling to serve the church.

This is an important annual event—and in fact, will eventually produce fruit. Over time, people will answer this call of God and will be compelled to go deeper into their faith and commitments.

2. Every year, identify certain people whom you believe God may be calling to some form of Christian service.

Again, this is an important step—and many people won’t consider that God may be calling them until they are identified as such. Consider, for example, the leaders in your youth group, the Sunday school, or those special volunteers who are always willing to help and who love the church. Some of these people may be grappling with a call to Christian service.

3. Create a brochure describing various forms of Christian service.

Having material readily available in your church office is crucial. Many people will take material home to read and to pray over. If you have material that explains steps to ministry and what ministry is about—there will be those who will ask questions and who will step up to answer the call. At the very least, reprint some of the materials available from your denomination or other affiliation.

4. Create a 2-3 session teaching event about God’s call to ministry and what this can mean.

Use Biblical examples and invite others to consider this study who may have leadership capacity and who are eager to volunteer. From among the many may come the few. Often, people feel a sense of call when they are learning.

5. Ask

This seems like such a simple step in the call—but many people describe their first step in ministry as a simple “ask”. “Someone asked me to consider full-time ministry,” many say. Indeed, there are many people who are waiting for someone to ask, “Have you ever considered being a pastor (teacher, missionary, leader)?”

As you consider your congregation and your sense of call—begin now to create an atmosphere, a culture, that is conducive to the leading of the Spirit. Don’t doubt that many will be lead to consider these steps, and year by year, you will be creating a culture of call. You can play a large rolein raising up new leaders for the church.



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