The World’s Most Important Calling
5 MILLION NEW CHURCHES – 1 BILLION SOULS
Sunrise on Orcas Island, Washington, USA. Is the sun rising on your ministry? Become reformed and renewed. It’s too soon to let the sun set!
Dear Visionary Leader,
In the 17th century English village of Kidderminster, a profound revival of Christianity took place. Family worship, the catechizing of young people, public worship full of praise, renewed purity resulting from church discipline, pastoral counseling, biblical preaching, the reading of Christian works, small group ministry—all of this happened in what had been a nominal English town because of the 20 year-long pastoral ministry of Richard Baxter. He later penned The Reformed Pastor, the classic work on the pastor’s call and duties.
While a lot pastors are familiar with The Reformed Pastor, not as many know what Baxter meant by “the reformed pastor.” Yes, Baxter was an adherent of Calvinistic theology, but in the title of his book, he did not mean “Reformed.” He meant “reformed.”
J. I Packer explained it this way: “On the title page of the original edition of Richard Baxter’s The Reformed Pastor, the word ‘reformed’ was printed in much larger type than any other, and one does not have to read far before discovering that for Baxter a ‘reformed’ pastor was not one who campaigned for Calvinism but one whose ministry to his people as preacher, teacher, catechist and role-model showed him to be, as we would say, ‘revived’ or ‘renewed.’
“The essence of this kind of ’reformation’ was enrichment of understanding of God’s truth, arousal of affections Godward, increased ardor in one’s devotions, and more love, joy, and firmness of Christian purpose in one’s calling and personal life” (A Quest for Godliness, pp. 26-27).
Packer added: “If God would but reform [revive or renew] the clergy, and set them on their duties zealously and faithfully, the people of England would soon be reformed [revived or renewed].”
Enriched understanding of God’s truth…arousal of spiritual affections…increased ardor in devotions…greater love, joy, and firmness of purpose in one’s calling and personal life. All of these burdens of Baxter’s are timeless, spanning the centuries since the pastoral gift was first enumerated (Ephesians 4:11).
It is obvious that these pastoral virtues are all important. So important, that today we might paraphrase Baxter this way: “As the pastor goes, so goes the nation.”
ARE YOU PERSON-DRIVEN?
Last month on Orcas Island in Washington, Cochairs Leonard Sweet and James O. Davis spent two remarkable days together discussing the need to move beyond purpose-driven to person-driven ministry. In other words, the Church is to be more about Christ than causes and more about God than goals. Len Sweet’s latest book is stirring such conversations among leaders worldwide. Join the conversation by getting your copy of the bestseller, Jesus Manifesto.
STEPHEN OLFORD: MAKING THE MAN OF GOD
The late Dr. Stephen Olford teaching on “The Making Of A Man of God” can be located on www.Billion.tv. As the Billion Soul Network continues to multiply, dynamic resources are made available for the global Church. Be sure to take advantage of these ministry expanding resources today!
MEN GATHERING FOR GLOBAL SUMMIT
The world needs strong men as never before, men who are responsible and decisive. Courageous leaders and daring men are gathering for the “Lions Roar” Global Men’s Summit in Dallas on November 1-2-3, 2010. Get your men’s ministry started! Come learn from the best, and join this world-class group of men!
WINNING A BILLION MEANS EACH DOING OUR PART!
UGANDA: “We thank the Lord for having connected us and made us friends. Because of your prayers we are winning souls and discipling the new souls in the Lord. We are so thankful to see that we are able to provide a future and hope to this next generation.” John Kayima, Uganda
As the church leader goes, so goes the church. As the church goes, so goes the world. The calling, gifting, and maturing of church leaders is the crux of God’s work in the world today. Responsibility is entrusted into the hearts and hands of pastors, evangelists, preachers, and teachers “to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (Ephesians 4:12).
In the economy of God, the church of Jesus Christ does not get equipped unless the God-called leaders of the church equip them. If the church is not equipped, the body of Christ is not built up. And if the body of Christ is not built up and made mature, the gospel of salvation and the teachings for sanctification do not go out to a needy world.
In my own calling as an evangelist, it is my inestimable privilege to meet and enjoy fellowship with scores of pastors around the world every year. Pastors are in the trenches every day, 24 hours a day. They have to be teacher, preacher, counselor, conciliator, leader, lover, marry-er, bury-er, shepherd, and friend—and that’s just on the good days. Often they’re taking out the trash, setting up chairs, typing (and folding) the bulletin, locking and unlocking the building, paying the bills…if you’re a pastor, you know the rest of the list.
What I often find is that pastors look at me the same way I look at them, thinking, “How do you do it?” They think my life of living out of a suitcase and knowing airplanes by their cabin décor is not for them. They would much rather be the shepherd of a flock, see lives transformed week after week, weep with the sorrowful and laugh with the rejoicing. We talk and agree on this one thing: When you’re doing what God called you to do, everything else looks like a burden. But when you’re not doing what God called you to do, everything is a burden.
Sometimes I encounter pastors who are not called to be pastors—and my heart aches for them. They have the character but not the call; the gumption but not the gift. My prayer is for God’s good grace to be upon them, to help them hear God’s calling loud and clear—either as a pastor or in some other capacity in the church of Jesus Christ.
When was the last time you checked up on your on your calling? When ministers know that they know that they are called by God, half the battle is already over. Here are some calling connections for your consideration:
God’s call is providential. I continue to find in people who are bearing hundred-fold fruit for God a sense that “this is what I was created to do.” They think of themselves like Paul, who was set aside at birth to be an apostle (Galatians 1:15), or like Jeremiah, who was set aside before birth to be a prophet (Jeremiah 1:5). Their ministry is not a job, not even a vocation—it’s a destiny, a “woe is me if I don’t do this” sort of thing (1 Corinthians 9:16).
God’s call is purposeful. Abraham was called to be the father of the faithful, Joseph the provider and protector of an infant nation. Moses was called to be a liberator, Joshua a trailblazer, and the prophets a plumb line. The disciples were called to be fishers of men, and later disciplers of nations. Peter was called to the Jewish part of the church, Paul was called to go to the Gentiles. Vision always flows out of mission (purpose). Purpose is from heaven, vision is lived out on earth.
God’s call is personal. St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, “It would take an infinite number of human beings to mirror back the infinite facets of the Godhead. Each person reflects only a small but beautiful part of the whole.” Nowhere is the personal worth of the individual more exalted than in Christian theology, where every individual is gifted by God for a role in the corporate body. Givers, servers, healers, teachers, administrators, mercy-givers—all live with their glass full of the living water of the Spirit, indispensable in God’s plan. God did not call you to be like someone else; He called you to be what you alone can be.
God’s call is practical. Are you comfortable doing what you are doing? When I meet pastors whose whole life looks like a square peg trying to fit in a round hole, I know I’ve met someone for whom the pastoral calling is not practical. Sometimes it takes an objective, outside observer to note that fact. But it should be duly noted.
God’s call is powerful. When I find enthusiastic pastors, I know they are fulfilling the calling of God. English “enthusiasm” derives from the Greek adjective entheos, “having the god within” (en + theos). It’s why Paul could say he was “hard pressed . . . but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” It was the life of God that was constantly being revealed through him (2 Corinthians 4:7-12).
God’s call can be perplexing. Sometimes the call from God will knock you off your horse in the middle of the Damascus Road—but that’s the exception, not the rule. Often the call of God is hammered out on the anvil of adversity or rises to the surface in the crucible of conflict. How will you know if you can get up by the power of God unless you are first struck down in the battle? If you are not sure of your calling, there is only one road to confirmation—seek the counsel of Him who prepared “works…in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
In the midst of a rapidly changing world, Dr. David Sobrepeña has a powerful message entitled, Spiritual Priorities Of A Significant Church. Pastor Sobrepeña is the founding pastor and CoChair/East Asia/Church Planting. I encourage you to view this remarkable message today and apply its principles in your ministry.
Do you hear the sound of the growing harvest around the world? The growth is faster than ever before! Blessings!
Until The Last Person Has Heard,
James O. Davis