What does it practically look like to "test" a brother's call into ministry?

A practical definition of testing is the placing of an individual into different real life circumstances to see how they handle them.  The best way to test men for the office of pastor is to evaluate them in those life circumstances by the qualifications for this office clearly mapped out for us in Scripture (1 Tim. 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9).  Through these characteristics listed, we can begin to determine whether a young man desiring this work is called, especially through testing his gift to preach and teach.  This is a testing that should be done in many ways visibly before the congregation. 

For example, when we have twelve different men preach a Psalm on Sunday evenings every summer who were desiring to test their gifts to preach, it acts not only as an opportunity for them to serve our church, but also as a way for their preaching gifts to be tested before the entire church.  We encourage church members to approach this individual after the service to give specific comments of encouragement and critique in a loving, helpful way.  A mandatory service review is held after the Sunday evening service to which the pastors and a few other men who are testing their gifts attend in order to speak kindly, yet truthfully into this brother’s life about the sermon.  Encouragements are given, corrections are made, and suggestions are helpfully submitted to improve for the next time.     

These brothers are also tested when they go and visit church member’s homes.  Not only are they caring for the individual member in coming to see them, but they are also being tested in a pastoral moment regarding how patient, kind, gentle, peaceful, respectable, and self-controlled they are, which are all qualities Paul highlights (1 Tim. 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9).  As a brother visits different members within the church, the pastors either accompany him, or informally check to see how the visit went and what fruit seemed to come from it.  When a brother who desires the work of a shepherd is confronted with the care of a dying saint in the hospital waiting for a word of comfort—the ground of testing has been significantly plowed.  

In the kind providence of God, every portion of an individual’s testing works for the good of the local church as a whole.  When a brother preaches, he is feeding God’s people through his labor in the word.  When a brother disciples another brother in the congregation, he is helping him mature and grow in his faith in Christ.  When a brother visits a homebound church member or a member in the hospital, they are caring for the souls of that church member and ultimately serving the pastors and church as a whole in their efforts.  Yet, as they serve the church in the midst of this testing, they are beginning to learn those daily labors of a pastor which they cannot learn from a book or class.  Consequently, their hands-on training and “testing” for the ministry has begun. 

Have you started to test young men in your church for ministry?

Posted in Training for Ministry
6 comments on “What does it practically look like to "test" a brother's call into ministry?
  1. Rob says:

    Are speaking of men from within the local church, or hiring someone out of seminary, or both?

  2. Ken says:

    do you limit this process just to this who have expressed a “desire” for pastoral ministry? What about those who are still wrestling with whether they truly “desiring” pastoral ministry, or whether they are just fighting against a discontent with where God currently has them?

    • Brian Croft says:

      Great question. I would first start with those who have expressed a desire. However, testing others who aren’t sure, is good to do also for I have seen the desire grow in those who didn’t think they were called, but engage in the work and found there was a genuine desire there. Likewise, those who engage in the work of a pastor whose desire does not grow from it, then they have their answer.

  3. Rob says:

    Here is what I have observed. We teach, we train, we minister, we disciple, we serve, we (hopefully) evangelize; and then we send them to seminary (no problem, usually); so they can go minister to another church. I have no problem with the churches that are sending out preachers to minister to other churches or plant churches, but what makes me question the current evangelistic pastoral hiring system is that no one from within their own church has been discipled enough, or called to the degree that they could legitimately fill the pulpit. I have seen glorious exceptions, but the “searching for a pastor” mode of the modern churches really seems to raise a red flag that says we are not training men the way we should within our local church. The ones from within know the people, they should already have the respect and discipleship relationships with them.

  4. Vickey Silvers says:

    I am an editor for Christian.com which is a social network dedicated to the christian community. As I look through your web site I feel a collaboration is at hand. I would be inclined to acknowledge your website offering it to our users as I’m sure our Christian reformed audience would benefit from what your site has to offer. I look forward to your thoughts or questions regarding the matter.

    Vicky Silvers

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