The “Called – NAD Pastoral Family Convention” was held in Austin Texas, July 5 -8, 2015. Over 5,000 pastors, pastor’s spouses and children gathered for what was an inspiring, encouraging, edifying, and uplifting event. For several months leading up to this Convention, the idea of being “called” had been on my mind. What does it mean to be “called”? Who is “called”? What are we “called” to?
Usually when we speak of the “call” we are referring to pastors. We seem to liken the pastor’s “call” to that of a prophet in the Old Testament. The interesting fact is that in the New Testament the Greek word we translate “pastor” appears only once.
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up. (Ephesians 4:11-12).
What I have always found interesting and compelling in the above text is both the work of the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher and the work of the people (in other versions, saints). For our purposes I will focus on the pastor and the people (members of the church). The pastor is “called” to equip people for the works of service. The people (members) are “called” to do the works for service which will build up the body of Christ.
One “call” is not above or more important than the other “call”. The “call” is for the edifying of the body of Christ, which is done through various gifts in various ways.
1 Corinthians clarifies this idea further. The Holy Spirit gives gifts to each member of God’s body. Through these gifts, each member of the body is “called” to work for the edification of the church, the loving of our community, and the dissemination of the Gospel throughout the world. This “call” is not to the pastor alone, but to every person who bears the name of Christ – to every “Christian”.
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines…..Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. (1 Corinthians 12:4-28 NIV)
Some have erroneously come to believe that only the pastor is “called” to ministry, in fact, each member of Christ’s family is “called” to ministry. It is the same “call”, by the same Spirit, for the same purpose, it only manifests itself in various ways. The “call” is to expand the kingdom of Christ on earth. How we do it varies from person to person; its manifestation varies based on giftings, temperament, talents, and personality. The Pastor, in our context, is “called” to church ministry, to expand Christ’s kingdom through training and equipping members of the church; the doctor, the teacher, the janitor, the bus driver, the lawyer, the stay at home mom… are all “called” to the same degree in their own context, using the God-given gifts and talents for the united purpose of expanding Christ’s Kingdom.
I pray that each of us recognize the “call” in our lives. We are, after all, the priesthood of all believers, here for one purpose – the expansion of Christ’s Kingdom.