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Called conference helps students, young adults explore ministry calling

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A call to ministry can be difficult for a teenager or young adult to wrestle with on their own. That’s why the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions created the Called conference, held July 31 at First Baptist Church in Trussville.
In its second year, Called offers support and resources for young people considering a call to vocational ministry. The event is a joint effort between the ALSBOM Office of Collegiate Ministry and the Office of Global Missions.
This year’s conference included three mainstage sessions from Jeff Iorg, president of
Gateway Seminary, and breakout sessions led by ministry leaders from fields including children’s ministry, missions, church planting, discipleship and more.
Iorg’s goal during his sessions was to walk through what a calling is, how God calls, and how to discern where God is calling you.
In his first session, he laid out the groundwork of what a calling is — a profound impression from God that establishes parameters for your life and can only be altered by a subsequent superseding impression from God.
He noted that there are three distinct types of callings seen in Scripture: a universal call to Christian service and growth, a general call to ministry leadership and a specific call to a ministry assignment.
During session two, Iorg went into depth about the three ways God calls people — a sudden experience, a reasoned decisionand the prompting of others. He gave examples from Scripture and his own life.
He explained how we often think a call has to be a “burning bush” moment. Sometimes it is, but it doesn’t have to be, he said. God sometimes gives us the opportunity to reason through a potential calling or even uses others to shed light on His plan.
In the last session, Iorg walked through five discernment points to help students know when they have truly been called. He compared these points to stars in a constellation. You don’t have to see every star to see the big picture, but sometimes the more points you can see, the clearer the image.
The five discernment points are inner peace, the confirmation of others, effectiveness in ministry, satisfaction in ministry and realistic expectations. God sometimes confirms someone’s call in all five ways and sometimes in only one, but He always confirms, Iorg said.
Between each session, participants attended breakout sessions focused on different types of ministry. Breakout sessions included:
• Church planting, led by Jarman Leatherwood, pastor of House of Hope and Restoration Church in Huntsville
• Youth ministry, led by Justin Hall, youth pastor at First Baptist Church, Prattville
• Preschool and children’s ministry, led by Sarah Lansford, minister to kids at the Grove Church in Madison.
• Missions, led by Sarah Farley of the International Mission Board
• Worship ministry, led by Jared Shepard, worship pastor of The Well in Tuscaloosa
• Discipleship and small groups, led by Heath Haney, Associate Pastor at Lindsay Lane Baptist Church.
• Spiritual growth, led by Daniel Atkins, pastor of Taylor Road Baptist Church, Montgomery.
Students had the opportunity to talk to ministry leaders and ask hard questions to help them decide what type of ministry they feel particularly called to. It also gave them the chance to learn more about day-to-day ministry.
Iorg’s sessions are available online at
PinnacleAlabama.org, the ALSBOM’s online resource for virtual training. (ALSBOM)

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