Darrin Patrick, Vice President of the Acts 29 Network and lead pastor of The Journey Church in St. Louis, authored Church Planter, published by Crossway. With permission, we are sharing from chapter 2 about churches helping to confirm the called.
Head and heart confirmation are both important. They both fit into the category of what many pastors and theologians have described as the internal call. But by themselves they are incomplete. A genuine call to ministry manifests itself not only in the thoughts and desires of the called person but also in his gifts, abilities, and skills. This last aspect of confirmation fits into the category of what theologians name the external call because it is the one that is most easily recognizable to other people.
I did not grow up going to church as a kid, so when I became a Christian and began to experience the heart and head aspects of the call, I didn’t have a paradigm for what to do with God’s call on my life. The tradition of the church I was attending was to walk forward at the end of the service to signify spiritual commitment. You walked forward if you wanted to become a Christian. You walked forward if you wanted to join the church. You walked the aisle if you wanted to be baptized. And, as strange as it may sound, you walked forward to make your sense of God’s call for vocational ministry public.
My church had a process for helping young men as they explored a call to ministry. First, the church confirmed that we were indeed called. There was an examination of character as the church asked, Is this young man qualified in his character? … The church also examined the skills of the man who claimed to be called by asking, Does this man have the gifts required to perform ministry? These two examinations of character and skill are paramount for the one who is called because he is able to check his subjective prompting objectively against the church’s evaluation.
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