I believe that a healthy church should expect to see some of its number called out into ministry and missions. Faithful, Biblical exposition should not only call sinners to Christ, but saints to service. I am afraid that we preachers rarely present vocational ministry as an option for our youth or young adults, and churches do little to encourage this as a legitimate area of service for their members. But why should seeing members called into service be the exception rather than the norm.
Along with the call there must be an opportunity to explore and exercise those ministry gifts. I say this primarily in the context of allowing young men who feel they are called to preach with the opportunity to do so. At Parkwood, we are blessed to have a number of seminary students who aspire to the preaching ministry and the last Sunday evening of every month is reserved to allow one of them to deliver that evening’s message. I believe that this is necessary for two reasons. It allows the young minister an opportunity to gain valuable preaching experience and it also allows the congregation to examine his gifts and determine whether or not God has genuinely called the young brother to preach. Calling and gifting are distinct and God does not give one without the other. A diploma does not a minister make!
Those who aspire to the preaching ministry should avail themselves to every opportunity to deliver God’s word. Pastors must not fear sharing their pulpit with fledgling preachers and must be willing to offer honest and constructive evaluation of gifts and calling. Congregations must be willing to endure the first sermons of some enthusiastic young preachers and consider it a blessing to be a part of the training of what may become some mighty preachers of the Word.
Every time one of these young men preach from my pulpit, I am reminded that some of these may go on to be powerful and faithful expositors who will go much further in ministry than I ever will. I thank God for the opportunity to be a part of their ministry formation.