SHAWNEE—Hundreds of young people attended The Call Conference at Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU), Aug. 26, to gain a greater understanding of what a call to ministry means in their lives.
Now in its seventh year, The Call Conference has been established as a follow-up event to many who answered a call to ministry this summer, with 1,098 such decisions made during the eight weeks of youth camp at Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center, near Davis. The conference drew 430 people representing 74 churches.
Vance Pitman, senior pastor of Las Vegas, Nev., Hope, offered praise for having The Call Conference, which is organized by the student ministry group of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma’s (BGCO) Equipping Team.
“I’ve never heard of anything like the uniqueness of what this event is,” Pitman said as the speaker of the opening session at The Call Conference. “Specifically targeting students that sense some desire or call to be used of God in a ministerial-type way—I’ve never heard of that before, so I’m grateful of what God is doing here.”
A longtime church planter who commissioned more than 40 churches in the western United States, Pitman also spoke highly of the ministry work and influence of Oklahoma Baptists.
“I’ve traveled to speak around the world, and just about anywhere I am, I meet somebody who has ties to either Falls Creek, Oklahoma Baptist University or the state convention of Oklahoma,” Pitman told attendees of The Call Conference in OBU’s Raley Chapel. “God has used this state and the ‘pipeline’ that you’ve built to pour into the next generation.”
Pitman also challenged students in attendance in his opening remarks. “Do you realize God could raise your generation up, and you could literally finish the vision?” he asked. “Did you hear what I just said? You could finish the mission. We could be in Heaven with your generation completing the task that Jesus gave us to take the Gospel to every tribe, tongue, people, nation around the world.”
Pitman helped those who may not understand what it means to answer a call to ministry or missions. He described their uncertain condition as having “a lack of clarity.”
“A lack of clarity is always an invitation to deeper intimacy with the Father,” Pitman said. “You don’t have to figure it out now. All you have to do is pursue Him. As you pursue Him, He will make known (His will) to you.”
Pitman gave the following three points to help students with their response to the call to ministry:
1. God’s primary call on someone’s life is not ministry; it’s intimacy. “Ministry is what He does out of the overflow of intimacy,” he said.
2. God’s call is not to a church; it’s to a city. Pitman explained how the focus should not be on a church but rather on a city because churches are “temporary tools established by Jesus for the expansion of the Kingdom in a city.” Many churches, including the ones the Apostle Paul planted are dead and gone, Pitman said, but “the Kingdom of God is alive and well.”
3. When God calls someone, everything He is doing locally with that person is connected globally.
Pitman’s talk at this year’s Call Conference can be found online at www.skopos.org/thecall.
Pace urges students ‘to prepare;’ Kellum warns of complacency
Scott Pace, OBU chair of Christian ministry department, and Scooter Kellum, youth ministry strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, also were key speakers. Pace led a session titled “Developed: A Call to Prepare,” focusing students on the importance of developing as they answer a call to ministry.
“Dr. Pace addressed the fact that if you are called to ministry, you are called to prepare,” Todd Sanders, BGCO student ministries and education specialist, said. “We used that time to point students toward what is important and what it looks like to develop in their calling.
Sanders said Kellum spoke in the final session of the conference on the dynamic nature of God’s calling.
“Scooter addressed being willing to go wherever and however God calls them in their ministry calling. Also that their calling, their walk with Christ, may not be easy, but it’s worth it to see lives changed,” Sanders said.
The Call offers an array of ministry equipping
Ten breakout sessions were offered that focused on specific areas in church ministry, as well as in mission work. One session, led by Buddy Hunter, youth pastor at Tulsa, Southwood, helped parents and youth leaders to effectively lead and disciple those called into ministry.
Heath Thomas, OBU dean of College of Theology and Ministry, led a session titled “Called to Obedience,” helping students to develop a lifestyle of Christian discipleship, whether or not they are called to ministry. Brian Baldwin, BGCO student evangelism specialist, stressed the importance of evangelism, which touches every area of ministry.
Jonathan Pickett, a representative of Chick-fil-A in Lawton, led a breakout titled “’Slash’/A call that looks different,” which addressed aspects of being called to bivocational ministry or how students could view their calling of ministry through the professional workforce.
Other breakout sessions included pastoral ministry, led by Rusty McMullen, pastor of Sayre, First; youth ministry, led by Zac Workun, youth pastor at Tulsa, Southern Hills; women in ministry, led by Amy Cordova, BGCO women’s missions and ministry specialist; children’s ministry, led by Keith Badgett, associate pastor of children at Jenks, First; missions, led by Chris Gulley, youth pastor at Oklahoma City, Northwest; and worship ministry, led by Rick Cordova, worship leader at Oklahoma City, Quail Springs.
Sanders said he received many positive responses from those who attended The Call Conference this year.
“The event continues to be well supported,” he said. “We always want to expand the reach of it, especially to open up even to those who aren’t called to ministry. It’s encouraging to see churches of all sizes being involved and finding the conference to be a benefit.”