This past week I received a “call” to Resurrection and Life Lutheran Church in Rochester, Minnesota. While many of you may know exactly what this means, there are still others who may be a little bit confused. Let me help clear up some of that confusion.
What is a call? While God entrusts every Christian with the call to share their faith with the world, there’s also a special role in sharing the Gospel called the “public ministry.” These are people who have been “called” by the Holy Spirit through a congregation to share the Gospel and the Means of Grace in a public way, on behalf of and in the name of other Christians. When the Bible gives examples of public ministers, it uses words like, deacon, evangelist, apostle, prophet, teacher (Ephesians 4:11). Today, titles for public ministers that you may be familiar with are pastor, teacher, staff minister, etc. As a church prayerfully “calls” someone into this public ministry, we believe that it is as if the Lord Himself is acting through the church.
Public ministers need to be called by the church. But how? The Bible doesn’t give Christians the prescribed way to call a public minister. When calling Mathias to replace Judas, the disciples drew lots (like an ancient “picking straws”) to settle on Mathias. They believed that through prayer the Lord would guide the outcome of the lots. Today, there are many different ways or methods used in the Christian world to call ministers. In the Catholic Church, a public minister is told to leave their current congregations and to serve at a new one. In other places, pastors seek out a “call.” They may even apply or interview for a pastoral or teacher position. In our church body, the WELS, the pastor doesn’t seek out the call. In other words, our pastors do not actively seek out or apply for jobs at other churches. Instead, the church issues a call to a candidate who may have the qualifications and gifts for a particular position and congregation.
When a pastor receives a call, like I have, in reality he is holding two calls. The Lord, through God’s people, has called you to the church you are currently serving and to the church that has issued the new call. It is our practice then that a pastor will prayerfully consider both calls and decide which congregation he can best serve. There are many things that a pastor should consider when deliberating a call (we will talk more about this April 24th) There’s not enough room to go into all of them. But just a few…it is important for a pastor to think about which situation he feels that he can best serve the Kingdom with the gifts that God has given him. It can also be important to listen to comments from the members of the congregations, comments of other pastors and others who know him well. It’s also important for a pastor to listen and discuss these things with his family, because he has important responsibilities as a husband and father.
While the process varies from pastor to pastor. Here is what you can expect during the coming weeks as I deliberate and come to a decision.
- April 13-call received to serve in Minnesota
- April 14-announce call to Eternal Rock staff and Leadership Council
- April 15-announcee call to the congregation via the eLetter
- April 17-23-contemplate where Eternal Rock is at as a church and see how I fit into that future.
- April 24-special 9:00am Bible Class/Discussion about this particular call. I would be giving my thoughts about where we are at as a church, how you and I fit into that future and answering any questions about the call process, etc. At this point, I would be looking for some feedback.
- May 1-anticipated decision.