Called to Serve

[21] So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, [22] beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” [23] And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. [24] And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen [25] to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” [26] And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles. Acts 1:21-25

I am experiencing mixed emotions reading this account from the early church.

In the above passage the early church has recognized they need to call an apostle to replace Judas Iscariot. Note that they established qualifications for candidates. Once candidates were identified, the early Christians prayed that God would show them which man the Lord wanted to replace Judas. Only then did they choose a successor for Judas. 

I find it reassuring that our congregations follow the practice of the early church. We use biblical criteria for qualifying church workers, whether ordained or commissioned ministers. We acknowledge that God calls workers through our congregations to serve our churches and schools. We prayerfully consider candidates to discern whom to call. 

My enthusiasm is tempered by a shortage of candidates for vacancies in our congregations and schools. The Ohio District was blessed last month with the placement of two seminary candidates in our congregations. However, the seminaries had 42 more requests than candidates for placement from churches across Synod. In April, across Synod 485 churches were calling pastors, including 357 sole pastorates. In the Ohio District we have 14 active pastoral call lists. 

We face the same challenge with a shortage of commissioned teachers and school administrators. It is more difficult to gauge this shortage, since schools can contract with non-rostered teachers and administrators. Nevertheless, the shortage is real. 

Jesus addressed this with His disciples: 

[37] Then (Jesus) said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; [38] therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:37–38) 

Following Jesus’ instruction, it is time to redouble our prayers that God would raise up for workers for the harvest. In addition to prayer, it is vitally important that we encourage both youth and adults to prayerfully consider full time church work. Synod has provided a number of resources to assist us in this process through an emphasis called “Set Apart to Serve.”

(A Second Look devotion are written for the congregations of the Ohio District LCMS)

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