SHAWNEE—For a call to be effective, there must be an answer. That was the emphasis of the theme, “Answer: Calling Out the Called” for The Call Conference in 2023.
Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU) hosted 558 attendees who represented 99 churches for The Call Conference on Aug. 26. For 13 years, this event has helped young people who are called by God to serve in ministry and in missions.
Brian Baldwin, who serves as student evangelism and missions partner for Oklahoma Baptists, said The Call Conference “meets the needs for those who are trying to discover or deepen their call.”
“It was one of the most successful Call Conferences we have ever had,” Baldwin said. “There were more breakouts than we ever had.”
Fourteen breakout sessions covered topics including “Called to Obedience (New Believer’s Track),” “Children,” “Evangelism,” “Pastoral,” “God’s Call in God’s Word,” “Leading Those Called (for youth leaders),” “Missions,” “Church Planting,” “Small Town Ministry,” “The Way God Calls,” “Women & Ministry,” “Worship,” “Media” and “Youth.”
“The Call Conference offers tangible guidance and instruction for churches that are trying to figure out what to do with kids who are called to the ministry,” Baldwin said. “These kids are searching for God’s will. Everybody is called to ministry and missions; some are called to full-time ministry and to the mission field. The Call Conference helps students discern exactly what God is calling them to do, and this is one of the most critical seasons as well.”
Baldwin said there are more pastors over the age of 65 than there are pastors under the age of 40. Pastors under 40 make up 15 percent of all current pastors of churches today.
“We need the next generation to answer the call,” he said.
General session speakers for The Call Conference included Shane Pruitt, well-known youth speaker who serves as national next gen director for the North American Mission Board; Elbert Smith, director of OBU’s Tom Elliff Center for Missions; and Albert Mohler, president of Southern Seminary.
“Shane did a good job talking about affirming God’s call,” Baldwin said. “Elbert Smith spoke on growing in the calling. He has trained more missionaries than anybody on the planet.”
Mohler concluded The Call Conference offering a challenge to all young people who attended, making sure they fulfill their calling to serve God.
“If God has called you, then waste no time in doing other things,” Mohler said. “We need as many people to go (in full-time ministry and missions) as quickly as possible.
“We are living in a strange cultural moment,” Mohler continued. “I don’t know how long we are going to have some of the freedoms we have now with preaching the Gospel. It may be that you need to arrive not only on time but just in time. I want you to know how encouraging you are to me. I am incredibly thankful that I have been a part of seeing what God is doing in this room. He may use somebody in this room to change the world.”