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The Call Conference equips future spiritual leaders

Is it a coincidence that the logo for the 2011 State Missions Offering features a phone?

Although it’s a phone that most young people receiving “the call” today have never seen—one with a rotary dial—it may represent communication from God to those He has set apart for His service.

Among the more than 20 vital ministries supported by the annual missions offering is The Call Conference, which is designed to equip and train ministry leaders of tomorrow.

Hundreds of students and even adults are “called” by God each year. At Falls Creek alone the past two years, more than 2,500 students have surrendered their lives to a ministry calling.

Trying to describe what has happened to them and exactly what God wants them to do is sometimes confusing. That’s why Oklahoma Southern Baptists initiated The Call Conference—to help them understand and define what they have been called to do.

The first Call Conference was conducted last March at Oklahoma Baptist University. Students and parents were able to find answers to many of their questions in several breakout sessions and addresses from Jeff Iorg, president of Golden Gate Seminary in Mill Valley, Calif.

And was it helpful?

“The conference was pretty enlightening,” said Drew McElhaney, a member of Mustang, Chisholm Heights, who was “called” last year.

“I remember the speaker talked about the different kinds of being called,” noted McElhaney. “He used a telescope illustration where one example is that we are all called—anyone who is a born-again believer is called to minister in whatever area they are. The next tier was a vocational call, knowing you’ve been called into ministry leadership. The third tier was a specific call to ministry assignment.”

McElhaney said he liked the way Iorg put all that together.

“It was pretty simple and easy to understand, and I still remember it,” he said.

McElhaney said he is still in the second tier—called to ministry leadership, but he doesn’t yet know where he is supposed to be. Currently, he is interning at his home church to get a feel for how a church operates.

A sophomore at Southern Nazarene University in Bethany, he is a multi disciplinary major with English and music.

“The conference did a great job of putting things in perspective for me,” McElhaney revealed. “I worried that it was an emotional call rather than a God-sent call. I didn’t want those kinds of doubts. I am more confident in what God has for me, in that, yes, I am in fact called.”

Kristina Shade, also a member of Chisholm Heights, said she didn’t know what to expect from the conference, but it made her feel better about her decision and answered some questions she had.
“I was curious as to what a call really means,” she admitted. “And what kind of ministry can a girl pursue?”

She surrendered to the ministry at Falls Creek in 2010, but said she still isn’t sure what area she is being called into, but since she is majoring in vocal music education at the University of Central Oklahoma, and wants to be an elementary music teacher, she believes her call may be in children’s ministry.

“I think slowly, God is giving me a ‘you just need to follow Me and experience what I give you,’” she said. “When I went to The Call Conference, it was still up in the air, but what I heard at the conference made me feel better about all of it.”

Shade, a sophomore, said she believes anyone who has been called by God for any type of leadership ministry should look into The Call Conference.

“It can answer a lot of questions they might be afraid to ask,” she said. “Sometimes it’s hard to ask those questions, and this conference answered some of those questions for me.”

McElhaney’s and Shade’s pastor, Dave Bryan, was one of the breakout session leaders for the conference. He said he took four students, and they had nothing but high marks for it.

“Different aspects of the ministry were talked about, and they felt it was a Saturday that really helped them clarify and look at the kinds of things God wanted them to do,” said Bryan.

Bryan said he enjoyed talking with a group of students who were considering what God wanted them to do and sharing with them the passion of his life with practical, hands-on advice about what the pastorate is like was enjoyable.

“The conference can be very clarifying if they only know God wants them in some kind of leadership position,” Bryan pointed out. “Even if they don’t have a clear direction what area of ministry they are being called into, I think the conference had some pretty specific ‘here’s how you can’ things.”

The next Call Conference is scheduled for September 2012.

The Call Conference is a part of the Leadership ministry in the State Missions Offering, and is one of four ministries featured in this year’s promotional materials, which are free and available through the Women’s Missions and Ministries Office. For more information on this year’s offering and to watch videos, go to www.bgco.org/smo. You also may call 405/942-3000, ext. 4335, to place an order for materials.

Dana Williamson

Author: Dana Williamson

Dana Williamson is a Special Correspondent for the Baptist Messenger

View more articles by Dana Williamson.

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