‘Calling Out the Called’ A Worthy and Important Venture

“How many resumes have you received so far?”

The question just seemed to hang in the air. I scanned the room and looked into the face of each member of the Pastor Search Committee. No one wanted to speak, and no one wanted to make eye contact. Finally, the Chairman looked up. With a hint of desperation in his eyes, he muttered, “Two.”

I sat there for a moment, trying to process his response. Two what? Two-dozen? Two hundred? Too many? Sensing my confusion, the Chairman repeated himself, “Just two.”

Two resumes. In two years of searching for a pastor. This small rural church was in trouble.

Upon further investigation, I discovered that the search committee could have done some things differently. They could have been more proactive in their approach to the search. Still, the increased efforts would have likely yielded only a few more candidates.

After all, the church has many characteristics that make it “unattractive” to potential pastors. The church is in a rural setting in the mountains of eastern Kentucky. The population is on the decline. The church does not own a parsonage and can only provide a fraction of what is necessary to provide for a family.

The reality is that men are not breaking down the door to move to eastern Kentucky to pastor small rural churches such as this one. And the result is these churches are left with few options and prolonged seasons without a pastor. One of the churches in my association has gone five years without a pastor, and another is approaching the four-year mark.

While the details may change, the story is similar across Kentucky. Many KBC churches – especially those who need a bi-vocational pastor – are finding it increasingly difficult to identify God-called, biblically-qualified men to shepherd their flock. From my standpoint, this problem has reached crisis levels.

What is the solution for these churches? I believe the answer is right in front of us. The reality is that the future pastors of these churches are likely already sitting in our pews. They simply have not responded to God’s call yet or don’t know how to do so.

That’s why I’m grateful for the leadership of Dr. Todd Gray and Dr. Steve Rice in spearheading this effort to “call out the called” in Kentucky. I believe it to be a worthy effort, and I’m humbled that Dr. Rice has invited me to serve as the Chairman of the Calling Out the Called Workgroup.

This workgroup is made up of several pastors, associational leaders, and KBC mission board staff with various backgrounds and experiences.

Our task is twofold – (1) to raise awareness of the needs and (2) to provide resources and strategies to assist churches as they intentionally work to discover, develop, and deploy the next generation of gospel ministers and missionaries.

The workgroup is unwavering in our conviction that God is the one who calls – not the KBC, nor associational leaders, nor church leaders. But as

Dr. Jeff Iorg rightly observes in his helpful book Is God Calling Me?, the Lord often communicates that call through the prompting of others. If these future ministers and missionaries are going to respond to the call, God will likely use another pastor or individual to extend that call.

That’s why the Calling Out the Called emphasis is so important.

During the coming months, you will begin to hear much more about the need to call out the called. You will learn about resources to assist pastors and associational leaders in inviting, mentoring, teaching, and sending the called.

But for now, I have one simple request for you. Would you commit to pray for the called? As Jesus witnessed the crowds clamoring for a moment of his time, he told his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38).

After two-thousand years, some things haven’t changed. The harvest is still plentiful, and the workers are still few. Would you join us in praying for the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest throughout Kentucky and beyond?

If you would be willing to commit to praying, please register as a prayer partner at https://www.kybaptist.org/called/.

Our goal is to have at least one prayer partner in every KBC church, crying out to the Lord of the harvest on behalf of those churches who receive only two resumes in two years. If we commit to praying, we can be confident that God is committed to calling.

Jason Lowe is the associational mission strategist for the Pike Association of Southern Baptists.