Monday, July 2, 2007

The Call

“Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight” (1 Tim. 1:18).

Wouldn’t you like to be able to slip deeper into Paul’s mind, and Timothy’s, to gather more information about what Paul was saying.? Paul merely tantalizes us with these words, but for Timothy, they must have been both electric and comforting. Timothy had a deep purpose from God for his ministry, a purpose that had been clarified through prophetic utterance and energized through spiritual gifting from his mentor (1 Tim. 4:14; 2 Tim. 1:6). In the concise parlance of today’s religious world, we would say these statements refer to Timothy’s call.

Calling is an important concept in the church planting context. Studies by the Assemblies and Vineyard planting ministries revealed that for those church plants which failed, 90% and 50% of the planters, respectively, felt uncertain about their call to plant a new church. From experience, it is the certainty of the call that kept me going through some truly dark times on the mission field. The call in the life of a church planter is important.

In my fellowship of churches of Christ the vocabulary of call is not well known or well used. It leaves many of our planters wondering: “Did I get a call?” “What happens when I receive a call?” “Will God just tell me where to go and what to do?” These are all great questions. For the next few blogs I want to share my experiences with the calling of God as I have seen them in mission field contexts, both foreign and domestic.

3 Types of Calls

I’ve seen three general types of calls in my life and the lives of many friends and acquaintances. Here’s the taxonomy of calls I’ve developed from these experiences and from the biblical text:

1. The Damascus Road Call

2. The Exposure Call

3. The Consideration Call

Next blog: The Damascus Road Call

2 comments:

Jason Campbell said...

Stan, thanks for taking the time to post solid stuff that people have questions about. Calling is one of the big initial hurdles church planters have to get over, and you are right, folks from our tradition struggle with the idea a bit. I think we understand the concept, sort of, but the implications are a little too spooky for a tradition that developed its theological foundations at the same time as the rise of enlightenment deism and demythologization: call from God? Sounds too mystical; I'll look for more reliably predictable scientific reasons instead...

And yet a strong sense of a calling from God can be so transformative, so anchoring, so sustaining during the hard times.

Keep those posts coming!

KMiV said...

I guess you have a point. I have avoided "call language" probably to the point of neglect.

I remember when one of my professors, Everet Huffard asked, "Are you called to ministry?" to which I replied, "No, I'm gifted but I don't believe in call." I didn't realize it was the same. I also didn't realize Evert was a man of patience and insight and he knew why I resisted call language.

In this journey I have been taught by all you church planters that "call" is such an important point of reference that we cannot go forward without a belief, conviction, and awareness of it in our ministry. Looking forward to your next posts.