Where I come from you hear Christians talk about being “called to preach.” “So-and-so got called to preach when he was 15; now he is the pastor at First Baptist.” What they’re referring to is that certain sense some people get of being called by God to “the ministry”, which usually entails filling a pulpit somewhere and being the main teacher/speaker in a Christian congregation.
I had a conversation tonight with some brothers and sisters that sparked something in me. I know there are a lot of people out there who feel this calling from God. Perhaps you are one of them. You have encountered the Lord and have a testimony of Him. You’ve been given special insight into the scriptures, therefore you have a burning desire to proclaim the truth you see there. Yet you feel limited and unable to follow your heart in this way because you’re stuck in a setting where you are not recognized as the teaching pastor or elder-only a “layman”-and therefore you are not allowed to do so. So you feel that the only way to find an outlet for your ministry is to go to seminary or start your own congregation down the road.
Might I suggest another alternative?
When all the saints in town came together as the church in the first century it was for the purpose of mutual upbuilding through the functioning of every member. Body ministry was the order of the day. All the saints took turns speaking the truth of Christ to one another in love, or “prophesying” as Paul would call it. They did this regularly.
Every member who was gifted to teach, taught. Every sister or brother who was burning to proclaim Christ, proclaimed Him. Again, let me point out the fact that they did this regularly.
There was no paid pastor handling all the spoken ministry. No team of elders who took turns doing all the preaching. Rather, all the Body functioned together. And it was so satisfying to the spiritual hunger of the church. You might even say from the inference of scripture that it was like a spiritual potluck-a feast even-in which everyone came both to give and to receive.
“But that was then,” you might say, “and this is now. Now we have priests and pastors, and the only way to find an outlet for my passion or gift is to start my own church down the road.”
All I can say to you is that there are churches in existence all across this land where the entire Body is free to function and minister in the assembly. Believe it or not, there is a real priesthood of believers out there just waiting to be discovered by those whose hunger is great enough to drive them to it. You may have to do a little searching to find it, but the experience is out there, and it is wonderful.
I dare say that this is what you are seeking. This is where your calling, your gifting, and your passion for the Lord Jesus Christ will find full release and satisfaction.
What is this place of which I speak?
It is the church life!