When it comes to raising up church workers, the Lord says: “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Luke 10:2). Indeed, the harvest is still plentiful—with now billions of people in the world who need to hear the Good News of their Savior. Finally, it will only be Jesus’ sending which engages men and women to go and tell of that saving love. We entreat Him in prayer to do that.
At the same time, we overhear St. Paul advise Pastor Timothy: “What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men [and women—the noun can include both genders] who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). If our first passage focuses on God’s supplying the pastors, teachers, and church workers needed for Christ’s mission, this one flips the coin, reminding us how God works through the church to prepare and equip those He calls.
Where can we find them?
Where shall we find faithful men and women able to teach the faith? It is within the relationships of the church where a person becomes a faith-filled follower of Jesus. The Spirit of Christ baptizes them into the faith, connecting them to Christ and making them His own. Through the church, the Spirit teaches the faith—from the stories of Sunday school to the lessons of Catechism, from conversations with pastors and teachers to youth and adult Bible studies. The faith is given and it forms the faithfulness which Christ calls forth through His Word. Not all of our church workers have decades of training in the life of the church before they enter ministry, but they should have some years of experience. Paul tells Timothy not to “lay hands on” (ordain) someone new in the faith (1 Timothy 5:22).
Consider the people in your church. Is there someone who has an “aptitude” for learning the Word of God—a youth who loves to delve into theological questions, a teen who happily shares the word of Jesus to her VBS class, a young adult with a well-marked and well-worn Bible, or a middle-aged man who easily leads Bible classes? That might be someone the Spirit is raising up in answer to our prayers for more harvest workers.
When describing a good, faithful candidate, St. Paul also implies a number of intellectual and moral gifts which make a person suitable for an office in the church. He says, for example, that pastors should not be “quick tempered” but “hospitable” and “self-controlled,” as well as able to “give instruction in sound doctrine and able to rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:7-9). For these reasons, our church requires specific training and formation for our church workers. The equipping through the church includes a regimen of coursework in the Bible and doctrine. It involves years, not only of study, but of growing spiritually in a community together with other Christians in worship and training experiences, like field work and vicarage. Already in the local congregation, potential candidates for ministry often “get their feet wet” and “test the waters” by their active involvement in the life of the church. Congregations which encourage people to practice their gifts in these ways typically send many more workers into the harvest fields.
How you can help
Perhaps you know someone with the character, the interests, and the gifts which might indicate that they could serve as a pastor, a deaconess, a Lutheran school teacher, a family life director, or a church musician. Would you say a prayer for them to discern God’s calling in their lives? Consider whether God is calling you to give him or her a word of encouragement yourself. Perhaps you could come with them to the Lord in prayer. Jesus speaks through His Body, the church. Many ministers of the Word would not be serving in the office today if it were not for words of encouragement from fellow Christians, helping them to hear and follow the voice of Christ for their lives.
Yes, let’s pray to the Lord of the harvest to raise up and send out workers into His ripe fields. Let’s also consider how the Spirit of God might be wanting to work through us to identify, encourage, equip, and support those whom the Lord is calling.
Concordia University Ann Arbor partners with you in this holy work. Church work routes are each headed by a director who would be happy to phone or meet with any prospective candidates for ministry; they can answer questions and help with the discernment process. You can contact CUAA Admissions at 734.995.7300.
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