Archive for calling


Posted in church, Ministry, Teaching, Theology with tags , , , , on July 28, 2009 by Walter

Chris Folmsbee wrote a great article for titled “Youth Minsiter Departing” that you can read in its entirety here.  He asks the question WHY are there so many people leaving Youth Ministry?  After almost 20 years of full time ministry, I have witnessed many, many, many guys who are no longer in youth ministry and many who aren’t in ministry at all.  This saddens me, it hurts my soul, it makes me lonely, it make me nervous for the church.  So I share Chris’ curiosity as to “Why” are these people leaving?

He asserts the following reasons:

1.  THEOLOGY: He says there is a departure between many youth workers and their senior ministers/supervising boards.  I experienced a lot of that, but for me, the transformation that I was able to witness from the “Front Row” of youth ministry negated that frustration in my experience.  I could disagree with my superiors as long as I was given the freedom to “DO MINISTRY” from my theological perspective.

2.    METHODOLOGY--He asserts that more and more are leaning toward missional models of ministry in a world that is still predominantly attractional in its approach.  I agree with Mark Oestreicher’s (and many others*) assertion in his recent book , Youth Ministry 3.0, that what has worked in youth ministry for the past 20 years no longer works.  This is what we look at a LOT in our Youth Ministry program here at Lipscomb.  The goofy games, lock-ins, Sunday night devos, etc. of the past 20 years just seem to miss the mark with post modern adolescents who have been abandoned.  But what?  Missional ministry seems to hit a current that runs deep within the soul and seems to match what we see in the early church, however, we don’t know yet what that looks like in the organization of the church.

3.  LEADERSHIP–Folmsbee asserts that many YMs are leaving for greater leadership challenges than are afforded in YM.  My assertion is that while many YMs WANT a larger leadership, they haven’t fully developed their own ability to recruit, train, nurture and manage the followers and the volunteers they do (or CAN) have in their current situations.  They see the influence that a Sr. Minister has and desire that kind of power for themselves, but don’t realize the influence they can possess not only with Junior High or High School students, but their parents, potential volunteers, the senior saints in their church, etc.

4&5.  EXPECTATIONS & CALLING--I agree with Folmsbee here in that our modern YMs are Overworked, Under-resourced.  too many YMs have far too much on their calendar and are hounded to have even more put on the calendar.  Too many churches don’t allow for comp time after weekend retreats, week long camps, two weeks camps to recharged and reconnect with their own soul and family.  Or too many churches give a YM a difficult time when they actually take the vacation time they are given as a benefit.

6.  CALLING--Perhaps our colleges and seminaries need to do a far better job of trying to convince people to NOT go into ministry.  However, the “business” of education causes a conflict of interest.  Here at Lipscomb, we work hard at challenging our Bible majors to really reflect and listen to whether or not they are going in to ministry for the limelight or are they being obedient to a true Call that God has been working in their lives.  I do think far too many go into ministry for misplaced motivation (to salve the ego, for the limelight, to be a savior, etc.)

Granted, there is a time for a change in many people’s lives.  You can see vocation after vocation where people leave and do something else after trying their wings or truly giving it their all for several years.  But there is something for longevity as well.

My hope is that the churches and her colleges and universities can do a better job of helping to prepare men and women for ministry and setting (or recalibrating) realistic expectations for those we currently have in ministry so that we will retain those who God has called to serve.

*Phyllis Tickle’s latest and most excellent book, The Great Emergence, points to the fact that the church universal is at the very beginning of a tremendous shift, the kind of shift that caused the Great Schism, The Reformation, the Council of Nicea to name just a few)

Chap Clark also asserts much of the same kind of needed shifts in his writings of the past 10 years, Hurt, Deep Justice in a Broken World, and Deep Ministry in a Shallow World where he details youth ministry’s need to address the more transcendent needs of the adolescent soul.


.::The Echo Within

Posted in Ministry, Teaching, Theology with tags , , , on February 11, 2009 by Walter

trashYesterday I received and read “The Echo Within: Finding Your True Calling” by Robert Benson.  I devoured in in about an hour and a half.  Its an easy read and an insightful journey that take the reader through various steps of discerning and reflecting upon Calling in one’s life.  I am going to be requiring it of one of my ministry courses next year as we talk a lot about calling and ministry.

He reflects upon thos who poured into him and impacted his journey in such a way that it affected the course of his walk.  Encouragements, lines, phrases that stuck with him.  He reflects:

“The people who said them never remember they said them.  Whenever I tried to thank them, they invariably replied, ‘I said that?’

Most sentence are ordinary.  And not one of them was said to me while I was talking to these people about vocation or calling.  In some cases the meeting itself was an accident.  In others it was one brief encounter, a few moments that changed the life I have lived from that moment on.”

I think about those lines and those poeple in my life that drew me to my vocation of ministry.

  • Father Ed from  Christ the Good Shpeherd Catholic Community who never spoke to me personally about vocation, but SHOWED me a life filled with JOY as he served God faithfully.  He was a man who took his calling seriously, and yet ENJOYED it so much.
  • Bob Davidson who one Sunday night in his office and “nudged” me forward in my walk and said “You just have to do it.” He was right.  And that night I gave my life to Jesus and he baptized me.
  • Guys like Jim Reese, Phil Ware, James Thompson, Dan Anders, . . . there are just so many to list that nudged me in their own way, whether through word or example drew me towards ministry.  For that I am eternally thankful.  Most of them never knew the impact they had on my soul.

How great it is to be surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses as I see leaders all around me who live out their faith in true authentic ways.

May we be a community of faith that is drawing people towards the service and ministry that God “wired” them for.  We we hear those still small voices of Yahweh drawing us closer to the vocation, the holy wpro he is calling us towards . . . whether that be youth minsitry, preaching, accounting, motherhood, graphic design, serving the homeless, taking in a foster child, construction . . .