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The Call Conference helps students understand call to ministry

SHAWNEE—The Call Conference serves as an opportunity to clarify any questions that students may have about answering the call to ministry. On Aug. 25, 358 people, representing 65 churches, attended the conference organized by the student ministry group of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO).

Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU) was the setting of sessions and breakout meetings designed to encourage and instruct young people seeking guidance for what was to happen next, as they recently answered a call to ministry.

This was the eighth year for The Call Conference, which featured as general session speakers Billy Young, Next Generation Ministries lead catalyst for the Florida Baptist Convention, and Ketric Newell, student pastor at Nashville, Tenn., CrossPoint. Eden Trentham led times of worship through music during the two general sessions.

Andy Harrison, BGCO student ministry specialist, gave an opening talk during the first session. He prayerfully encouraged young people sitting in OBU’s Raley Chapel to “abide in God’s presence, feel God’s Spirit and listen as God taught” throughout the conference.

“To abide in Him is to understand that we really need Him every moment of every day,” Harrison said. “And everything centers on Him.”

Young shared how Christians are called to ministry at different seasons of life, but he emphasized the importance of hope in Christ. He asked direct questions that are relevant for students who are answering God’s call to serve in ministry or in missions.

“What does this look like for me?” Young asked in the opening session. “Does (God) want me to be a teacher, a doctor, a lawyer – whatever that is, but is the hope of my life and the focus of my life in the right place?

“There will be things that will come up and there will be things that will try to shift you away from the call in your life,” Young continued, “but if we make sure that every aspect of our life, that our hope is not found in things but our hope is found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then we can continue always to be faithful in ministry.”

Young shared about his experience of playing football at the University of Florida and being a part of the Gators winning the 1996 National Championship.

“At 19, I thought I had arrived,” he said. “The focus of my life changed, and other things in my life had taken over.”

However, Young explained he had a great reminder two days after the Gators celebrated winning the National Championship. He said they began offseason training and were doing drills on the practice field. A coach told the team, “What you did wasn’t good enough.”

Young sat in anger on a campus bench after that practice session. “I knew that there was a Gospel tension in my life,” he shared. “I knew the call on my life was not to be focused on the things of this world… whatever this is will leave you empty. I knew I had surrendered my life to make much of Jesus in the world where God has placed me. I sat there praying because I put so many other things above that call.”

The Call Conference offered 10 regular breakout sessions for students in attendance, as well as a “Mega Breakout” for all attendees, led by Heath Thomas, OBU dean of Hobbs College of Theology and Ministry, who spoke on “Formed: A Call to Prepare.”

The 10 regular breakouts covered the following topics with its speakers:

“Pastoral Ministry” was led by Nick Atyia, pastor of Seminole, First. “Youth Ministry” was led by Alex Villagrana, minister of youth at Duncan, New Hope West.

“Women in Ministry/Girls Ministry” was led by Christina Beverage, administrative assistant for the BGCO Executive Group. Charlie Gatton, program director for CrossTimbers Children’s Mission Adventure Camp, led a “Children’s Ministry” breakout.

Ray Anderson, minister of missions and evangelism at Oklahoma City, Quail Springs, led a breakout on “Missions.” Newell also led a breakout on “’Slash’/A Call That Looks Different” before speaking during the final general session.

“Worship Ministry” was led by Cody Dunbar, worship pastor at Bethany, Council Road. Bob Mayfield, BGCO Sunday School and Adult Discipleship specialist, led a breakout titled “Discipleship & Small Group Ministry.”

Kent Epling, youth minister at Midwest City, Meadowood, led a breakout for parents and youth leaders titled “Leading Those Called.” Bobby Kelly, OBU professor of religion, led a general spiritual growth breakout titled “Called to Obedience.”

For more information on The Call Conference visit skopos.org/thecall.

Chris Doyle

Author: Chris Doyle

View more articles by Chris Doyle.

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