SHAWNEE—Moses, Gideon, Isaiah, Paul. The Bible is full of examples of people who were directly called to ministry leadership by God. On Aug. 28, more than 400 young people who have sensed God’s call on their lives gathered for The Call Conference.
Meeting at Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU), The Call Conference is an annual conference hosted by Oklahoma Baptists that is designed for individuals who are exploring or pursuing a call from God to ministry leadership.
The theme of the 2021 conference was “Appointed,” based on Isaiah 42:6. (“I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness. I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations.”)
Brian Baldwin, youth missions and evangelism ministry partner with Oklahoma Baptists, was encouraged by the way the Lord moved through the conference.
“We encouraged all middle school, high school, college students, and adults who feel that God may be calling them into ministry to attend. This year, we saw hundreds of young people from churches across Oklahoma take part, and we are so encouraged with the turnout,” Baldwin said.
“The conference offered students two large-group sessions and breakout sessions geared toward helping them recognize and put into practice God’s call on their lives,” he noted.
The day-long event included keynote speakers, breakout sessions and more. Among those sharing a keynote address was Gateway Seminary President Jeff Iorg.
Iorg—who wrote the book “Is God Calling Me?”—shared biblical precepts with students about discerning their call to ministry. He explained that while all Christians are called to grow and serve, some are called by God to ministry leadership.
Offering a definition of a call to ministry leadership, Iorg told students it is “a profound impression from God that established parameters for your life and can only be altered by a subsequent superseding impression from God.”
Other keynote speakers included OBU President Heath Thomas, who talked about growing in their calling; and Vedaste Ndamiye, a ministry speaker and leader who spoke on how to follow a ministry call faithfully.
The conference’s breakout sessions helped attendees recognize and put into practice God’s call on their lives. Breakout topics included children’s ministry, youth ministry, evangelism, understanding God’s call, missions, “pursuing a call that looks different,” “women & ministry,” worship and more.
“We have many churches and missions organizations that are having a hard time finding qualified people to fill positions and roles that they need,” Baldwin said. “The torch of missions and ministry leadership must be passed well to the next generation of kingdom leaders.
“The Call Conference is a crucial step toward establishing a ministry pipeline in our state. We had another large group of students indicate a call to ministry at Falls Creek (summer youth weeks). The Call helps them take the next step forward and equips them for the future. It also is a fantastic chance for our ministers to invest in them and start thinking about future ministry leadership.”
Attendance increased from 250 in 2020 to 450 this year.
“Each student went home with books and resources to help them discover and deepen their call even further after they get home,” Baldwin said. “The majority of the attendees had never been to The Call Conference before.”
Numerous Oklahoma Baptists who participated in the event were greatly encouraged by the day.
Matt Wolff, youth minister at Tulsa, South Tulsa, said, “The Call Conference was powerful for my students who attended. Bennett, my son, came forward on Sunday morning to surrender his life to missions.”
“At the conclusion of the event, there was a special time of anointing, when each participant received a tiny little oil bottle,” Baldwin said. “It was a reminder of the experience and that they are anointed and appointed to serve our King and His cause. It was powerful.”
For those who took part in the 2021 The Call Conference, everything indicates this event will have a lasting impact—and on the Kingdom of God as future ministry leaders are called and sent.