Following a call

Called to Ministry?

Within God’s call in Christ to every believer there are a whole variety of opportunities to focus our response. The challenge is to get that response lined up with God’s call. Baptists have always emphasised the ministry of all believers and within WEBA we continue to emphasise this fact. However, God continues to call people to exercise specific aspects of ministry, which require more than spare time allows. WEBA can help facilitate and test a calling in certain directions for which accreditation is offered, such as: Pastoral Ministry, Evangelists, Youth Specialists and Regionally Recognised Ministers. However, in the first instance it is always best to begin talk with those who know you best and your own local leadership

A Baptist Minister

The Baptist Union oversees ‘The Register of Covenanted Persons Accredited for Ministry’. At present, this covers ‘Ministers’, ‘Evangelists’ and ‘Youth Specialists’. Any Minister who is part of this covenant is able to commended to any of our churches. For an initial period, usually three years, people serve as ‘Newly Accredited Ministers’ before becoming fully accredited.

Pastoral Ministry

What we think of as a typical Baptist Minister – someone who leads a local Church. You will usually be needed to preach, lead worship, offer pastoral care and focus the vision and life of a congregation. None of this will you do perfectly but all of it and more will be laid upon you in God’s call. ‘Good enough ministry’ like ‘good enough parenting’ is what delivers pastoral leadership. Pastoral ministry, however, is exercised by humans not angels – for all the sense of inadequacy that is within, this will be God’s call for some. Undergirding all of this will need to be a deep relationship with God in which the struggle to grow and be better will be matched by dependence and adventure throughout the time that ministry is exercised.
Each of the following factors will need to feature in pastoral leadership but will flow out of a person who acknowledges their limitations and manages their functioning appropriately.

  1. Ministers will be able to handle scripture and communicate its message and meaning.
  2. Ministers will be able to cultivate relationships with all kinds of people so that they are encouraged to walk with God.
  3. Ministers will be able to be with people in times of delight, distress and brokenness.
  4. Ministers will model and lead God’s people in evangelism and mission enterprise.
  5. Ministers will be able to work well with others in ordering the life of the church and manage this when differences arise between others.

Evangelists

Evangelists are those whose gift and calling is to make Christ known on the frontiers between church and society (Acts 21:8; Eph 4:11 & Tim 4:5). The Baptist Union gladly recognises the work of evangelism undertaken by many Baptists in connection with other societies or organisations. The purpose of our accreditation of evangelists is to recognise those who work on behalf of Baptist churches, Clusters or Associations. It is envisaged that such a ministry will normally be undertaken within the context of a team. The term ‘evangelist’ is used as an inclusive term to avoid stereotyping the work of evangelism. Used in this way it includes not only preachers, personal evangelists, apologists, and musical evangelists, but also church planters, whose gift and calling is to pioneer new congregations.

Youth Specialists

The Baptist Union also accredit ‘Youth Specialists’ of which we have a growing number within WEBA. The task of a Youth Specialist is to enable young people to develop personal faith so that they can grow in their relationship with God. The term ‘Youth Specialist’ is used as an inclusive term to cover all those in Youth Ministry. Whilst the Baptist Union of Great Britain gladly recognises the work of Youth Specialists undertaken by many Baptists in connection with other societies or organisations, the purpose of this scheme is to recognise those who work in or on behalf of Baptist churches or Associations. It is envisaged that such a ministry will normally be undertaken within the context of a paid team.

Regionally Recognised Ministry

‘Regionally Recognised Ministry’ (RRM’s) is the title being used to describe those called to a ministry of leadership within the churches of the West of England Baptist Association area, but who are not seeking full national accreditation. It is a ministry local to the Association area; it is recognised and validated by the wider Baptist family in association together; it is an extremely valuable expression of God’s gifting in ministry amongst our Churches. RRM’s are those seeking to serve in a ‘limited sphere’ within the Association’s region. The word ‘limited’ refers to the limitation within the WEBA area which may be due to a variety of factors such as age, opportunity to study, or other reasons.

Testing a Call

As you explore this within a Baptist context the following framework generally applies:

  1. You will need to talk with your own minister and/or local leaders. They will need eventually to ask for a recommendation to WEBA from your Church Meeting. The local affirmation of a sense of call on a person’s is crucial and no one can progress through our process without it. The local church is asked to affirm their discernment of your calling into Christian Ministry.
  2. You will need to be in touch a Regional Minister, who will guide you through the approach to the Association and Colleges. The Regional Ministerial Recognition Group will interview you to test your calling to Baptist Ministry.
  3. A period of formation that touches mind, practice and the whole person will normally follow. This is usually via one of our Baptist Colleges and at the end of this the College will be asked to commend you as ready for ministry. If training has been experienced in another context it is possible to approach the process through the Residential Selection Conference – Gordon can explain this more fully if appropriate.
  4. The final test is that a call from a local church is received and responded to positively in the confidence that God has directed you.

At each point an openness to be led either way through your own dealings with God and through his people acting together is of utmost importance.

Criteria

We tend to focus upon the three ‘C’s’ of character, competency and calling.
Character is assessed primarily via references and a certificate that indicates that you are not unsuitable for work with children and vulnerable adults. We also require a self declaration in relation to criminal records.
Competency will be tested, but it is potential for development we are looking for rather than the finished article. Clearly, there needs to be signs of gifts in a variety of areas, however, even if not yet fully matured.
Calling. God calls all kinds of people and sometimes we ourselves are the last to recognise it’s us! Calling is tested locally, regionally and nationally before anyone is able to become a fully accredited Baptist Minister.
Over the years Baptist Churches working together have also put down certain requirements as ministry is explored:

A trained mind – you will need to obtain a minimum academic qualification at level 2 (Diploma) in Theology validated by a University.A fit person- we test this by requiring a medical report from your medical advisor with comments on physical and mental health.
A Baptist believer – clearly Ministers need to hold dear to Baptist values. We require the Declaration of Principle is signed and your acceptance of the Ministerial Recognition Rules (a copy of which can be obtained from a WEBA Regional Minister, or our office).

Further help

We hope you’ll find relevant and useful information here, but recognise this is only a start. Further help and advice will be available from your own Minister, or one of the WEBA Regional Ministers.

Declaration of Principle

The Basis of the Baptist Union is:

  1. That our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, God manifest in the flesh, is the sole and absolute authority in all matters pertaining to faith and practice, as revealed in the Holy Scriptures, and that each Church has liberty, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to interpret and administer His laws.
  2. That Christian Baptism is the immersion in water into the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, of those who have professed repentance towards God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ who ‘died for our sins according to the Scriptures; was buried, and rose again the third day’.
  3. That it is the duty of every disciple to bear personal witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to take part in the evangelisation of the world.