Jesus called them one by one—Peter, Andrew, James, and John. These disciples in turn called others to ministry. Recruitment to the gospel ministry was one of the earliest tasks of the Christian church.
How is a person called to ministry? We reflect on Martin Luther's dramatic lightning-storm commitment and often mystify the process of being "called." Young people raised within the culture of the church may not feel called be cause they have not experienced an overwhelming emotional encounter. At the same time, a new convert may con fuse the general call to discipleship with the specific call to ministry. Consequently, some who would make an exceptional contribution in ministry never even consider the possibility of pursuing training for pastoral work.
In view of this, one of the greatest privileges of a pastor is the general duty to call all members to minister and the specific duty to guide some members into pastoral ministry. Recruitment is not a mundane word; it is not machination; it is a divine mandate. If you sense an opportunity to multiply your own pastoral effectiveness by extending Christ's call to others, I would urge you to do so. Here are some suggestions:
Magnify the mission by viewing the world through God's eyes. Heaven gave its greatest Gift in order that all the world might be saved. Can we do less than to find our best and brightest, and then encourage, lead, call, motivate, and train them to give their best for the Saviour's mission of reaching the world?
Clarify the call to ministry. See how Jesus and His apostles involved themselves in recruiting others for ministry. What outward criteria recommended Christ's recruits? Only a willingness to respond. Therefore, we must constantly remind ourselves that while we may tend to look on the outward appearance God looks on the heart. The greatest qualification for ministry re mains a mind for God and a desire to do His will! So take ministry beyond the mysterious.
Target talent in your church—especially among the youth. Catch them doing something well, recognize their contribution, and mention their potential for wider service. Look for ways to motivate them toward spiritual service and to develop and utilize their talents for God's work. Enlist early. If you recruit an adult, you have won a worker. If you recruit a youth, you have won a multiplication table.
Suggest service to persons with potential. Write a letter suggesting that they consider whether God could be calling them to ministry and ask them to pray for the working of His will in their lives. Pray with them individually for God to guide in their choice of life vocation and for them to be open to His providential leading.
Open options in the minds of your youth and their parents by making your ministry appear pleasant, fulfilling, and successful. Of course, ministry has its challenges and discouragements, but dwell on the rewards of service and the joys and satisfaction in ministry. By your words and your example, encourage a desire to "follow you as you follow Christ."
Prompt parents to pray for and with their children. Encourage them to think beyond finances when planning career choices for children.
Provide partnership by taking potential pastors with you on pastoral visits, Bible studies, hospital calls, and board meetings. Appoint youth to your important committees. Designate them as "elders in training." Hire them to do evangelism, children's ministries, and literature evangelism during summer vacations. Employ their talents in worship, leadership, and volunteer minis tries. Motivate them for ministry by utilizing them in pastoral functions.
Model motivation. Your example as a pastor is powerful. Consider these words from John Fowler's editorial "A Salute to Pastors" (Ministry, May 1993): "When my father asked what I planned to choose, I answered without any hesitation, 'I want to be like my pastor.'" He also noted the words of James E. Means: "Good spiritual leaders have enormous ethical power as models, instructors, and guides."
Accept recruitment as an extension of Christ's own activity. Plan now to duplicate your effectiveness in the lives of those persons whom you have recruited for pastoral ministry. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you. As in New Testament times, recruitment to gospel ministry involves the cooperative efforts of the Holy Spirit and His ministers.