This Sunday morning, Alan Hayes will stand before the Imagine Church family (both in person and online) to pledge his life to one of the most unusual practices in American culture -- a "called ministry." No one decides to become a pastor as much as one is "called" to be a pastor. Those who choose pastoral ministry as a vocation are usually the ones who don't last; most pastors do this because they feel called by God and could do nothing else.
Alan's call into the ministry was God's notion long before Alan ever thought of it. A called ministry is a countercultural challenge. Subordination of your desire for fame and success, accumulation of wealth, marriage and family, and even where you live, to the mission of the church is weirdly un-American. We are a people who have been deeply indoctrinated into the godless ideology that our lives are our possessions to do with as we please, that my life is the sum of my astute choices, and the life I'm living is my own.
There are less demanding ways to serve Jesus, surely. But forgive me for thinking few are as adventuresome as a life commandeered by Jesus into called ministry. I remember a conversation I had with Alan a few years ago when he was still in school attempting to help him discern what God wanted him to do. I concluded the conversation with, "I can't say for sure whether God is calling you into the ministry, but for your sake, I hope He does." I wanted Alan to experience the same sense of adventure that I have.
This is a prejudiced comment, but I think there are few things sadder than an un-called life. What a joy, in good times, but especially in bad, to believe that you are where you are because you have been called there, and you are doing what you are doing because God means for this to be so. And at Imagine Church, we believe that every follower of Jesus Christ, whether clergy or not, is called into a ministry in some form. What is yours?
In the name of the One who can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
Bruce Jones, Pastor and Co-Creator,
Imagine Church of the Carolinas