Thursday, April 9, 2015

Discerning the Specific Call of God

I have been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be “called” by God. In a general sense, God calls all Christians to serve Him. No Christian is saved so they can just sit in the pew and soak up the music and the sermon. Instead of being called to sit and soak, Christians are called to serve. I think most Christians understand this, even if they struggle to live it out.

But I also believe that some Christians are called to deeper service. Some Christians have an inescapable sense from the Lord that they should serve as a pastor, a missionary or in some other vocational ministry role. For some Christians, such as myself, that calling comes at a specific moment of time. I still vividly recall the moment in which God called me to ministry. I was sitting on a porch in front of the “Lobster Trap” cabin at Treasure Island Camp in Lynchburg, VA. The Spirit spoke to me and told me that I was to devote my life to Christian ministry. That has been the focus of my life since that moment. For others, the calling of God to special service comes over a period of time and is less easy to identify, but the pull to ministry in those situations is no less compelling. Though many Christians many not understand this call to deeper service, those who have experienced such a call understand exactly what I am talking about.

The calling of God to ministry is very real, both in a general sense for all Christians and in deeper sense to those Christians called to some kind of special vocational ministry. That part is easy to understand. The more challenging part of answering the call of God is to know the WHERE and the WHEN of one’s calling. Should a lay person who wants to serve teach Sunday School, or be a deacon, or join the choir? He or she may not be able to do all three. How do they know which one? And how do they know when it is time to end one’s involvement in one kind of lay ministry so more time can be devoted to a different type of lay ministry. For those called to vocational ministry, how do they know if they should become the pastor of church A or church B? How does the missionary know if they are to go to Africa, Asia or post-Christian Europe? These life altering questions can be hard to answer.

In my efforts to recruit church planters and pastors to New England, I attempt to help people determine the answers to those very questions. It is not always easy. God often uses a verse of scripture or some unique experience to speak to people in very specific ways. For example, a young man I worked with a couple of years ago realized God wanted him to be involved in church planting through his study of scripture. But a chance encounter with a childhood friend in a restaurant led to a conversation that convinced him that New England was the place he was to plant that church. Then he sought out opportunities in New England until God opened a door to just the right place at just the right time. Though not always easy to ascertain, God does call us to a specific place at a specific time and when we find that sweet spot, service to the Lord is rich and meaningful.

Dr. Terry W. Dorsett has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader, and author in New England since 1993. He is a happy husband, proud father of three adult children, and a cancer survivor. You can find all of his books at this link:


  1. Michael ShortsleevesApril 9, 2015 at 5:11 PM

    It was at my brother-in-law's funeral. I walked out of that service knowing I would be dedicating my life to preaching & teaching in a pastoral role. Good post Terry.

  2. The call of God on your life was evident to me when you were sixteen. I was greatly blessed by your blog. God did great things in my life on that island, too.