Church Planters and Calling: A Few Thoughts

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Do Whatever You Are Called To

Whatever callings you have from God – do them.

You are called to follow Jesus, so follow him. You are called to play your part in God’s mission, so play your part in it. If you have received more personal callings to particular ministries and/or specific places then do those ministries and go to those places. It is God who called you, and he knows best.

Seek God’s Calling

Whilst they ‘Type A’ and ‘Type B’ callings are for all believers, and so we already know exactly what we are called to in this regard, ‘Type C’ and ‘Type D’ callings are much more personalised. It is a great practice to take time in prayer, asking God what he has for you, and as you do this be ready for him to speak to you about the callings that he has for your life, both in terms of particular ministries to perform and of specific places to go.

Understand the Relationship Between the Different Types of Calling

The different types of calling operate in a hierarchical relationship from the more general to the more specific. The call to follow Christ includes everything that we do in life being done for his glory. One part of this is the call to be part of  God’s Mission, so we could say that our ‘Type B’ calling is always included as part of our ‘Type A’ calling.

Similarly, if God calls us to a particular ministry, then doing this ministry is a part of what it looks like to live out our call to God’s mission. Our ‘Type B’ calling will include our ‘Type C’ but will also include many other things (e.g. evangelism, prayer, acts of loving service).

Likewise a ‘Type D’ calling is a particular task that sits within our ‘Type C’, ‘Type B’ and ‘Type A’ callings. 

It will usually be the case that as we obey a calling further down the hierarchy that we are simultaneously living out our higher callings. Obeying God’s call to move to a specific neighbourhood is part of fulfilling our ministries, furthering the mission and following Christ and we should always see the smaller scale things that God asks of us in this light. 

If we are in a scenario where there is an apparent contradiction between different callings, then the higher callings must take precedence. If going to a specific place presented a conflict with following Christ faithfully then becoming a Christian comes first. If planting a new church would ultimately hinder God’s mission, then God’s mission is the priority. God’s calling will still be fulfilled, but perhaps you need to return to the drawing board and look for a different way to fulfil that calling, or to try again at a different point in time when there is no longer such a conflict.

Go With Whatever Calling You Have

As we read about the growth of the church through the book of Acts, we see something that is at the same time highly spiritual and highly pragmatic. It was commonplace for God to speak and direct his people, and whoever he did they obeyed and followed his call. It was also commonplace for them to quietly get on with the job and advance the mission with or without specific instructions.

Whilst ‘Type D’ callings are very helpful, they are not the only game in town – and when we have a clear idea of what ministry we are called to (‘Type C’ calling), or even more generally what God’s mission is (‘Type B’ calling) then we already have plenty of reason to plant churches and make disciples. 

Personally, I have a strong sense that God has called me to church planting in Manchester, but I haven’t received any particular words from God about where in Manchester I should be focussing in at the moment, so I am just getting on with it, helping a new plant get started in the South of the City and being part of a group preparing to plant again in the City Centre

Based on whatever level of calling we have, we can get on with the mission at hand. ‘Has God specifically spoken about it?’ is one good question to ask in determining whether to go, but it is not the only one: ‘Is there a need?’, ‘Have my leaders asked me to go?’, ‘Am I qualified?’, ‘Do I want to?’ and ‘Is there an opportunity?’ also factor into the decision.   

God has not left any of us without a mission to fulfil, and the call on us all is to obey whatever specific callings God give us, and in the mean time to get on with the mission at hand.