Written by Julie McConnell
Maybe it was an epiphany kind of moment you felt while listening to a powerful sermon. Maybe it was a voice in the night like Samuel heard. Maybe it has been a long time coming, a soft knocking on your heart for months or years. Everyone’s story is different, but the end result is the same. You’ve been called to full time ministry, and you’re ready to accept God’s calling on your life. But what do you do next? Do you just go out, buy a plot of land, and build a church? Do you immediately quit your day job and start evangelizing in the street? While some people may have stories of this type of leap into ministry, you need to know that taking things a bit slower is ok, and even beneficial for many. Aligning yourself with an army of support, learning more about full time ministry, and starting small in your local church are three next steps you can take to help prepare you for your calling.
Joshua Didn’t Win the Battle Alone
When Joshua was called by God to take over the land of Canaan, he didn’t do it alone. He had an army with him, marching around the city walls for 7 days, and finally blowing trumpets during their march, and then watching the walls around the city of Jericho come crashing down. God doesn’t call us to go through life alone, and with a calling to full time ministry, support and prayer are key. One of the first things you can do after being called is to tell others about your calling. Talk to family members, trusted friends, your pastor and other spiritual leaders about your calling. Ask for prayer, for advice from other ministers, and most importantly for support as you journey down this road.
Knowledge is Key
A second, and very important step after accepting a call to full time ministry is to educate yourself about ministry, and prepare yourself for your calling. You wouldn’t go into a hospital to perform a surgery without education right? And it’s doubtful you could become a chef at a restaurant having never cooked more than spaghetti. The same goes for full time ministry. Learning about the field, learning more about the Bible, and enlarging your army of support are all things that education in ministry can help accomplish. “But wait”, you may think, “I don’t have time for Bible College!” Or, “I already have a degree, I don’t need another one.” Or, “I want to start my ministry soon! I don’t want to wait four years!” Don’t worry, there’s a great option for you, whatever your concern. There are a lot of choices out there for education in ministry, but one of the best I’ve found is Northwest University’s online ministry program. Northwest has been equipping ministers for 80 years, so they definitely know what they are doing! Their programs are 100% online, so you can fit them into your schedule without having to quit your job or move to an area close to campus. And there are all kinds of options! If you don’t have a lot of time to invest, you can look into a certificate in ministry leadership, or an associate’s degree. They also have bachelor’s degrees and masters programs available. One of the best things about Northwest’s bachelor’s program is that your studies include Bible and theology classes, along with practical ministry courses designed to help you with real-life ministry outside the classroom. Yes, there will be obstacles, and yes, it will be hard work. But a degree or certificate in ministry is really a fabulous step to take as you prepare for God’s calling, and with God and your army of support, you’ve got this!
A House is Built One Brick at a Time
A third important step to take when accepting a call to full time ministry is to start small. Realize that just like a house requires much time and effort so build, so can ministry. You may be super excited and anxious to get started with ministry, but realize that you can minister where you are now, while you prepare for further ministry down the road. Ministry can begin in your local church, and in your community. You may start by hosting a small group, leading a class at church, or volunteering with the youth group, or in the community with a shelter, a boys and girls club, or a food pantry. Not only does this allow you time to prepare for your calling by working on your certificate or degree from Northwest, but it also allows you to see where you may fit in ministry, to see where you are most needed, or where you feel you can make the most impact. God’s plan for Moses was for him to lead his people out of slavery and into the Promised Land, but it didn’t happen immediately. Your call to ministry is the same. God’s plan will be unveiled as you allow Him to lead you, one step at a time.
A Calling Worth the Investment
A calling to full time ministry is an amazing blessing and responsibility. There are many resources available to you, and education and support will be key to your success. Reach out, find a mentor, check out Northwest University’s online ministry programs, and invest yourself in your local church or community. Continue to pray for guidance, and ask others to pray with you. It may seem daunting, and you may be nervous. That’s ok. That’s what your army of support, and your education is for. Remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 19:26 – “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Julie is a life-long Hoosier, wife, and mother of two. When she is not working in her pharmacy, she spends her time with her husband and daughters in Indianapolis. She is a member of Geist Christian Church and enjoys playing outside with her girls, finding fun things to do in Indy, watching football, and reading bedtime stories.