At the recent BMA of America National Meeting in Springfield, Mo., BMAA President Dr. Clif Johnson ended his message by having the ministers over the age of 65 stand and move to the center aisle. He then invited ministers under that age to move in and allow the older men to pray over the younger ones. It was a powerful thing as Larry Hendren prayed over me. I was so glad that I went to the meeting. However, as the age lines were drawn, it was apparent that those 65 and up clearly outnumbered those below that age bracket. I believe that if that number had been moved to 60, 55 or even 50, the numbers would have been even more dramatic. With a visual like that, it got me thinking. Is God still calling men to preach?
I want to believe that God is still calling young men to preach and pastor His churches. The numbers at the meeting don’t seem to indicate that, but not everyone can attend a meeting in the middle of the week. For the bi-vocational and part-time pastor, a meeting far from home is an impossibility, so I remain hopeful that God is calling young men and we just aren’t getting an opportunity to meet them because of logistics.
What can we, as student ministry workers, do about this apparent deficit in the next generation of pastors and servants? There are a few things we should all embrace as we watch for our pulpits and staff positions to be filled in the coming years:
• Pray for God to call more. Matthew 9:38 (ESV) says, “Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” We should be praying in general for young men to be called, but we should also pray specifically for the students in our ministries. Pray that God will shape and mold them into the next generation of kingdom servants.
• Speak into students’ lives. I remember a recent podcast interview with Dave Vandergriff of Lufkin, Texas about his experience with Jim Courtney. As the former head of the Music Department at Central Baptist College, Bro. Courtney influenced many lives. One day, he simply asked Dave if he had considered a life of ministry. The rest is history. Dave has had two long-term successful ministries after graduating from Central Baptist College in 1994. We don’t want to be, and can’t be, the Holy Spirit in students’ lives; but we can ask the question of those we see God working in. Ask the questions.
• Honor those in ministry. We never want to sugarcoat what it is like to be in the ministry, but we also don’t want students and potential servants to be turned away from ministry because of the way we treat our pastor. Love your pastor well. Encourage him. Care for his family. Don’t let your actions push away those considering God’s call on their lives.
Is there a quick answer to this problem? No, but we can take small steps. God is still calling. Let Him use us in that process.