Those invested in the life of the church are constantly asking if there is any hope for its future. While some see nothing but decay, I am convinced that there are actually signs of life and hope for the future of the church all around us. The church is fueled by the Spirit of the Living God, who continues to breathe the breath of life into new experiences and expressions of the church every day. With that as our faith, there is always hope for the church’s future.
When I had the opportunity to travel to Atlanta to take part in the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s annual General Assembly, I was uplifted to see twenty-five young professionals featured during one of the morning sessions. Throughout the past year, CBF had identified twenty-five young professionals who were part of CBF partner churches, and who were making a difference in their community. It is part of their ongoing initiative to foster relationships and celebrate God’s work among an emerging network of young Baptists.
The most uplifting part of the experience was recognizing that not one of these twenty-five young Baptists was a minister. That may sound strange coming from a pastor who is always concerned about whether or not new generations of clergy are being trained to lead our churches into a new day. It was uplifting because one of the most difficult challenges the church has always had is instilling a sense of vocation, not only in the clergy, but within every believer.
We recognize that those who preach, teach, counsel, and lead missions organizations as professional ministers are called out and equipped by the Holy Spirit for service. Too often, however, we forget the fact that the job of the members of the clergy is not to do the ministry of the church on behalf of the congregation, but to work alongside the Holy Spirit to equip the members of the church family to join in God’s ministry wherever they find themselves every day. It was refreshing to see twenty-five young Baptists who have recognized the fact that their faith has an impact on every aspect of their lives, including their career.
I wonder if we at ARBC have done a good enough job of ensuring that everyone within our family of faith not only feels a deep sense of God’s Spirit continuing the work of redemption, but also senses God’s leadership in every aspect of their lives. I think of our teenagers who just came through an incredible Camp Unidiversity experience and the impact it will have on them as they prepare to start a new school year and remember that God is present in the classroom and in their studies. I think of our college students who are asking questions about what career field they might be interested in, and whether or not God can guide them to a place of fulfillment and impact for the good of the world. I think of those of all ages who may be in the midst of a career transition, or continuing to live out their lives beyond a career.
Have we done enough to support each other in listening for God’s voice calling us to live into a sense of purpose and vocation for the good of God’s world? It is one of the most crucial callings of our church. Let’s work for it together.
Rev. W. Mattison King