First Baptist Church (FBC) Nacogdoches has identified seven young people in its congregation who are called to ministry. The church is committed to tangibly supporting these students on their journey into the ministry or mission field, as well as intentionally identifying other young people who are called so that they too can be supported. This new effort to come alongside ministry students is named Calling Out the Called.
“Our church has always sent people into the mission field and ministry, but now we want to do so in a more formal way,” said Tom Webster, worship pastor and coordinator for Calling Out the Called. “We want to foster and shepherd their education in very significant and tangible ways.”
FBC Nacogdoches launched Calling Out the Called on the last Sunday in March with a special church service.
“Our church has a long long heritage of launching people into the ministry. We are thankful for our heritage, and we want to build on it by coming alongside people that God has called and encouraging them. My prayer is that in the next years we will see hundreds of people launched into the ministry. This ministry begins today,” said Noel Dear, senior pastor of FBC Nacogdoches, during the kick-off service.
Five of the seven students the church will support initially were present to read scripture and worship with the church family. All of the students recorded videos that were played at the beginning of the service. They shared about their background and how they felt called to ministry.
The students FBC Nacogdoches has identified are each at different places in their call. Some are in college, while others have already started seminary. Some still live in the area, and others are living and studying in other cities. No matter where they are, FBC Nacogdoches wants to surround these students with the prayer and support they need to succeed. One way the church is doing this is by partnering church members with students. These church members are charged with being prayer warriors for students, keeping in touch with them, knowing their needs and reporting back to the church.
“When young people recognize a call, churches are quick to celebrate that, but students usually don’t have any support system to help them walk through all that’s necessary to make it into the ministry or mission field,” said Dear. “There are people in our churches that are ready to partner in prayer and financial support if they were just given an opportunity. We want to give them that opportunity.”
FBC Nacogdoches will also cover the cost of theological education for these students in addition to the spiritual partnership. They are ready to provide tuition, housing, textbooks, conferences and anything else the students need during their time in seminary.
For Webster, getting to lead a ministry that is providing this kind of tangible partnership and support is deeply personal.
“I surrendered to the call to ministry when I was in high school, and I was blessed in immeasurable ways by those who poured into my life during that time. I know the impact it has,” he said. “I also spent 30 years in Christian higher education before going into full-time worship ministry. I have seen the decline in students pursuing theological education. We desperately need people who are trained to go out and change the world for Christ, plant churches and serve God’s people. One way we can encourage this is by supporting those who are called to do so.”