If you have seen any church health statistics during the past ten years, you know how many of the indicators are trending.
Barna released the results of their 20-year study on the State of the Church in which they reported, “In 2000, 45 percent of all those sampled qualified as practicing Christians. That share has consistently declined over the last 19 years. Now, just one in four Americans (25%) is a practicing Christian. In essence, the share of practicing Christians has nearly dropped in half since 2000. … This shift also contributed to the growth of the atheist / agnostic / none segment, which has nearly doubled in size during this same amount of time. …”
To help address this decline, Ronnie Floyd, president of the SBC Executive Committee, gave his third component of his Vision 2025 initiative as follows: “Increase the total number of workers in the field through a new emphasis on ‘calling out the called,’ and then preparing those who are called out by the Lord.”
Students are still being called by God for His service. We simply need to give them a chance to explore that calling as well as equip them with a firm foundation for Kingdom ministry.
Earlier this year, we saw this play out at Baptist Campus Ministries at the University of North Alabama. State Missionary Matt Daniels, who serves as campus minister at UNA, tells the story:
“During the fall semester 2020, I began to ask the Lord to help me mentor students who are juggling the call to vocational ministry. I was unsure how to begin and wanted the Lord to guide each step of the process. As I was praying, I received an email from Larry Hyche, another state missionary, asking me if I had students who felt this call and if he could be of assistance. God always has the perfect plan. So Larry and I began brainstorming which led to the event ‘I Think I Am Called?’ at UNA. Any student considering the call, at any level, to vocational ministry is welcomed. I was completely unsure how many students were dealing with a ministry call, but the Lord sent 24 students to the original event with an additional two since then.
“We have 26 students praying and walking through surrendering their lives to vocational ministry. They are such an encouragement to me and the work on the UNA campus. So this is a time to pray for college students. The Lord is clearly stirring up the next generation of leaders to lead His church. He is moving and preparing to reap a harvest through college students.”
That’s just one college campus. How many other young men and women in Alabama are waiting for someone to ask them if God is leading them into a vocational ministry? How many need to learn what ministry truly looks like behind the scenes and need a ministry mentor? The harvest continues to grow, but the workers are few(er) in 2021.
This is why the Called Conference is so important. We are intentionally “calling out the called” on July 31 at First Baptist Church Trussville when we host the second annual Called Conference, which is designed to equip high school and college students (ninth grade and up) who are praying about the call to ministry.
This year, our young men and women will hear from Jeff Iorg, president of Gateway Seminary, about the dynamics of the call.
In addition to the large group sessions with Dr. Iorg, students and leaders will choose two breakout sessions which cover a wide array of topics including pastoring/church planting, age-graded ministries, missions, discipleship, worship, spiritual health and leading those who are called.
To learn more about the Called Conference, click here.