In the waters of baptism people receive the promise of eternal life and the forgiveness of sins. They are named children of God, sealed with the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever. Through these waters each one is initiated into the body of Christ and becomes a member of the priesthood of all believers. They are nurtured in this community, equipped to carry out the ministry to which they are called, and sent out in service as ambassadors for Christ in and to the world.
For most Christians this identity is too easily lost in the busyness and responsibilities of the world. However, the mark of the cross and the power of the Holy Spirit are promised elements that will be with all who are baptized, no matter where they go and what they do.
The majority of Christians live out this calling to be in ministry within vocations found in the midst of the world. They carry out their ministry while living and working in an almost limitless variety of life situations and professions. In Christ, the faithful are not only doctors, farmers, or teachers, etc. who come to church. They are ministers in Jesus’ name who engage the world as doctors, farmers, or teachers, etc. They serve God and each other in their life together within the church. They represent Christ and the church as they work in the context of a pluralistic and heavily secular world. This calling to vocation within the world is one of the key ways that God uses the baptized to reach out in mission to the world.
Rostered leadership is not a self-called vocation but a unique calling from God through the church to serve and equip the whole people of God.
Some from within the Christian community are called to serve in vocations that are lived out primarily within the church. This is a practical matter as the church institution needs people to assume responsible roles within the organization. It is even more a God directed reality. Just as God calls some to work as Christians in the midst of the world, God also calls some to work within the church in order to use their gifts to teach and proclaim the gospel, administer the sacraments, and provide leadership and direction for the ministry of the church and equip all the baptized for their ministry.
The church as Christ’s body of all the baptized is bigger than the single ministry to which individuals belong. Through partnership with synods and churchwide structures, training and the formation of leaders can happen in a way that can shape the church to be faithful and effective in the mission God has entrusted to it. Partnership in the call process embodies this reality and ensures greater depth and accountability for this work.
Within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America these rostered leaders may serve as pastors, associates in ministry, diaconal ministers, or deaconesses. The process of calling rostered leaders within the life of the church is therefore primarily about discerning God’s will for and God’s call upon the congregation or ministry in which they will serve. Prayerfully, the church calls forth those they believe God can best use to help them carry out their mission together.
Rostered leadership is not a self-called vocation but a unique calling from God through the church to serve and equip the whole people of God. This is so that the church can live together faithfully as the body of Christ, equip the baptized for their work, and fulfill its purpose to proclaim and embody the redemptive intentions of God in the world.
Questions for Call Committees
- As a baptized person, how is your calling being fulfilled in your daily life?
- In your experience, how has your congregation equipped you to do that?
- How does reflecting about your vocational calling affect your thinking as you prepare to call a new leader?
- How is calling a rostered leader in the church different than hiring someone in a secular position?
- How will the rostered leader you are seeking to be someone who works for the whole church, not just your particular ministry?
Want to learn more? Read Together for Ministry: Final Report and Actions on the Study of Ministry