By Mark A. Taylor
With his list of ways your church can move more young people toward vocational ministry, Matt Proctor implies this is a goal off the radar for too many today.
I’m glad that wasn’t true in the congregation I attended while I was in high school.
Central Christian Church in Waukegan, Illinois, was a small, simple congregation by today’s standards. Of course, this was almost 50 years ago, when almost every church approached ministry with less sophistication than many today.
The Preacher Training Class led by ministers of the church was a simple idea, too. Get some teenagers together and talk about ministry. Let them listen to recordings of great sermons. Give them the basics of sermon preparation. Show them principles for effective public prayer and Scripture reading. Talk about sermon planning and church program administration.
Let them practice preaching at regular youth night services or in other settings. Encourage them to speak at Christian service camp or anywhere a sermon is needed. Take them along on hospital or evangelistic calls.
Just about any minister could share his own training and experience this way with a handful of willing students from his congregation. This is true for megachurches as well as small congregations. In fact, according to Matt, Bob Russell wishes he had led something similar while he was minister at the fast-growing Southeast Christian Church in Louisville.
Only God knows the potential influence of such a group. I know what happened with the nine or so guys who were part of the Waukegan Preachers Training Class: at least five of them are still in ministry today, all these decades later:
Bill Baker is founder and editor of the Stone-Campbell Journal and professor of ministry and biblical studies at Hope International University, Fullerton, California.
Myron Bartlett serves on staff as director of involvement and outreach at First Christian Church, Sullivan, Indiana.
Joe Grana is dean of the Pacific Christian College of Ministry and Biblical Studies and professor of church ministry at Hope International University, Fullerton, California.
Steve Ormord serves as senior pastor with First Baptist Church in Dodge City, Kansas.
And this month I’m marking 40 years of service with Standard Publishing, now Christian Standard Media.
Would we have committed to ministry without the prod from the local church? Maybe. Did the camaraderie of our group, example of our minister, and experience with Christian service while we were still teenagers point us toward Christian service? Undoubtedly.
My testimony is this: Of all the ideas suggested by Matt Proctor, none has more potential than his Number 5: “Involve young people in ministry now.”