Book Review: Discerning Your Call To Ministry, by Jason Allen
Jason Allen. Discerning Your Call to Ministry: How to Know for Sure and What to Do About it. Moody, 2016. 160 pages.
I was called to the ministry—or so I assumed. As a teenager, I admired my youth pastor and wanted to be like him. I wanted to encourage others as he did. But I didn’t really know what it meant to be a pastor—a steward of the things of God. I had little understanding of the role and qualifications of a pastor. Yet I assumed I was “called to the ministry” because I had some internal desire to be a pastor.
Thankfully, God sent mentors into my life who encouraged me and equipped me for the pastorate, often by slowing me down. They gave me a biblical perspective on ministry and taught me how to evaluate my own fitness for it.
WINSOME AND THOUGHTFUL ADVICE
Jason Allen provides this kind of wise and thoughtful help in Discerning Your Call to Ministry. In this biblical, winsome, and encouraging book, Allen helps readers discern whether they should pursue full-time ministry.
After addressing what it means to be called to the ministry, Allen appropriately probes readers’ hearts with the following questions which function as chapter titles:
- Do You Desire the Ministry?
- Does Your Character Meet God’s Expectations?
- Is Your Household in Order?
- Has God Gifted You to Preach and Teach His Word?
- Does Your Church Affirm Your Calling?
- Do You Love the People of God?
- Are You Passionate about the Gospel and the Great Commission?
- Are You Engaged in Fruitful Ministry?
- Are You Ready to Defend the Faith?
- Are You Willing to Surrender?
As I reflect on my own journey to the ministry, I wish I had this book as a young man exploring what it meant to be a pastor.
Discerning Your Call to Ministry is a valuable resource. First, it’s biblical. Allen works through relevant biblical passages pertaining to pastoral ministry. Second, it’s personal. Allen shares some of his own experiences as he worked through whether he should pursue ministry. Finally, it’s full of helpful examples from church history, highlighting the thoughts and experiences of pastors from previous centuries. Allen lends their aid to those discerning their desire to enter into the pastorate.
THE ROLE OF THE LOCAL CHURCH
One aspect of the book I found particularly helpful was Allen’s emphasis on the local church’s role in helping men discern whether to enter pastoral ministry. In this day where any subjective and fleeting feeling is considered authoritative, the local church’s role of providing an external call to ministry is often neglected or altogether forgotten. Allen though, helps readers recover the corporate component of the call to ministry.
He writes, “It would be unwise, if not disobedient, to bypass community affirmation in pursuing the call” (76). He also states, “the way to discern if the Holy Spirit is working in you and your church to affirm your calling is simple: talk to your church. Specifically, seek out your pastor and/or other elders” (78).
As one who initially assumed I should go into the ministry simply because I felt like it, and as one who has met a good number of others who assume the same, I’m glad Allen spent an entire chapter on the local church’s role in affirming someone for ministry.
This book is useful not just for those beginning to discern their call. It’s also useful for pastors charged with training the next generation of pastors (2 Tim 2:2). In the topics covered, pastors have something of a checklist they can use as they train other men. These chapters can be used as an assessment tool to determine what areas of character or ability need sharpening or greater understanding. As pastors work with these men, they can lay out a strategic plan for practical growth in character, gifting, and leadership.
Discerning Your Call to Ministry is a brief and helpful resource. As a pastor, I plan on buying and giving this book away to the young men exploring their call to the ministry. If you’re a pastor, I would encourage you to do the same.