SHAWNEE, Okla. (BP) – Moses, Gideon, Isaiah, Paul. The Bible is full of examples of people who were directly called to ministry leadership by God. Oklahoma Baptists’ annual Called Conference aims to help young people who feel that same call.
This year’s conference at Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU) Aug. 28 drew more than 400 people who sense God’s call on their lives. The theme was “Appointed,” based on Isaiah 42:6.
Brian Baldwin, youth missions and evangelism ministry partner with Oklahoma Baptists, was encouraged by the way the Lord moved through the conference.
“We encouraged all middle school, high school, college students, and adults who feel that God may be calling them into ministry to attend,” Baldwin said. “This year, we saw hundreds of young people from churches across Oklahoma take part, and we are so encouraged with the turnout.
“The conference offered students two large-group sessions and breakout sessions geared toward helping them recognize and put into practice God’s call on their lives.”
The day-long event included keynote speakers, breakout sessions and more. Among those sharing a keynote address was Gateway Seminary President Jeff Iorg.
Iorg, author of a book titled “Is God Calling Me?”, shared biblical precepts with students about discerning their call to ministry. He explained that while all Christians are called to grow and serve, some are called by God to ministry leadership.
Offering a definition of a call to ministry leadership, Iorg told students it is “a profound impression from God that established parameters for your life and can only be altered by a subsequent superseding impression from God.”
Other keynote speakers included OBU President Heath Thomas, who talked about growing in one’s calling, and Vedaste Ndamiye, a ministry speaker and leader who spoke on how to follow a ministry call faithfully.
Southern Baptists affirmed intentional efforts to help young people discern and follow God’s call with the passage of Vision 2025 at the 2021 SBC Annual Meeting in June.
“I am so very thankful to see this focus on ‘Calling out the Called,’” said SBC Executive Committee President and CEO Ronnie Floyd, who presented Vision 2025 to messengers at the meeting. “This is one of the greatest needs in our Great Commission work together.
“Calling out the called is one of the major initiatives in our unified Great Commission vision called Vision 2025. The need to advance the Gospel around the nation and the world should alert us to this great need so we can see more missionaries mobilized and more churches planted across America and the entire world.”
The conference’s breakout sessions helped attendees recognize God’s call and put it into practice. Breakout topics included children’s ministry, youth ministry, evangelism, understanding God’s call, missions, women in ministry, worship and more.
“We have many churches and missions organizations that are having a hard time finding qualified people to fill positions and roles that they need,” Baldwin said. “The torch of missions and ministry leadership must be passed well to the next generation of kingdom leaders.
“The Call Conference is a crucial step toward establishing a ministry pipeline in our state. We had another large group of students indicate a call to ministry at Falls Creek (summer youth camps). The Call helps them take the next step forward and equips them for the future. It also is a fantastic chance for our ministers to invest in them and start thinking about future ministry leadership.”
This year’s attendance was significantly higher than last year’s.
“Each student went home with books and resources to help them discover and deepen their call even further after they get home,” Baldwin said. “The majority of the attendees had never been to The Call Conference before.”
Matt Wolff, youth minister at South Tulsa Baptist Church, said, “The Call Conference was powerful for my students who attended. Bennett, my son, came forward on Sunday morning to surrender his life to missions.
“At the conclusion of the event, there was a special time of anointing, when each participant received a tiny little oil bottle. It was a reminder of the experience and that they are anointed and appointed to serve our King and His cause. It was powerful.”