You have probably heard it from your own pulpit. You have probably seen the announcement in the bulletin. You have probably read about it in the Standard Bearer. You have probably heard it discussed at Sunday coffee. You may have even prayed about it yourself. There is an urgent need in the Protestant Reformed Churches for more preachers of the gospel.
This is not a new need, but one that’s been around since Jesus told his disciples, “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few” (Matthew 9:37). Jesus’ command in response to that “problem” was that the disciples would pray: “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.” By God’s grace, our denomination, congregation, families, and individual members have heeded that command. Petitions for God to raise up more men to pursue the ministry are uttered regularly throughout our churches and families. And in many ways, we may be thankful that God has already answered those prayers.
I’m hopeful that none of this is news to you. And the point of this article is not to tell you the need, but to point you, young man, to the logical next step: Considering the calling of the ministry for yourself. Young men, single men, married men, middle-aged men, men with children or without, the time is now for you to consider the ministry. It’s time to consider whether or not the Lord is calling you to pursue that work in answer to your own prayers.
Some may call this obvious, but I say otherwise—from my own experience. During my synodical examination, almost all of my fellow students admitted that they had thought about the ministry at a young age. Some always desired that work, and for others it came and went. My experience was different—I had never considered the ministry. As a boy and throughout my teenage years I heard the discussions, and I listened to the exhortations of ministers and teachers. But, every time the subject came up, I convinced myself that the ministry was a task for other men, not for me.
My perspective changed by a work of God through ordinary means. In my early college years, I continued to hear the prayers of my pastor. I heard every single week as he asked God to raise up more men for the ministry “even from this congregation.” I was also approached by others who asked me if I was considering seminary. Sometimes these comments were made seriously, sometimes in jest. Whatever the case may be, God used those petitions, comments, and other circumstances in my life to move me to consider the ministry. When I finally did seriously consider, it did not take long for me to become convinced that God was calling me, at least internally, to pursue the gospel ministry.
Taking the liberty of applying my own circumstances to others, that is my advice: Men, consider it. Think about it. Pray about it. Talk to others about it. Give some serious time and effort to the task of examining your heart, your gifts, and the need of God’s church.
If you believe you ought to pursue the ministry, or even if you are uncertain, talk to your parents or siblings. Talk to your pastor. Talk to your elders. Stop in at seminary to talk to a professor. Talk to multiple people, and people who know you in different ways. And when you talk to all these people, listen to what they have to say. Whether or not respected brethren believe you should pursue the ministry is important. Professor Gritters’ Suggestions for Young Men Considering Attending Seminary is also a good place to start.
Not sure if this is your calling? Be assured this is not out of the ordinary. Most men take pre-seminary courses and even enter seminary with a great deal of uncertainty. Probably far more men take up an “ordinary” occupation wondering whether or not they should have pursued the ministry further. In either case, be confident that if God has set you apart for that “good work,” he will make it clear to you in one way or another.
Are you convinced the ministry is not your calling? Most will come to this conclusion, and you can still help the cause by encouraging gifted, spiritually-minded young men to consider the ministry. Don't push them into it; just encourage them to consider it. It is also important that friends and family of those who are considering the ministry have a positive attitude about ministry. The pressure of such a pursuit is weighty enough, and I am sure many young men keep their distance from the ministry out of a fear of what their friends and relatives might say or think. Speak positively about the office of the ministry; don't drive them away from it.
The need for ministers is great, and the work of the ministry is a good work! Continue to pray for that cause in obedience to Jesus’ command. And men, don’t neglect to give serious consideration to this calling for yourself.
This article was written by David Noorman who has been declared a candidate for the ministry in the Protestant Reformed Churches of America.