By Randy C. Davis
President & Executive Director, TBMB

I was licensed to the gospel ministry 50 years ago Feb. 17 by my home church, Shiloh Baptist Church, Saraland, Ala.

The document on a wall near my office reads: “This is to certify Randy Charles Davis who has given evidence that God has called him into the Gospel ministry to preach the Gospel as he may have opportunity and to exercise his gifts in work of the ministry.”

It was a heavy moment for a teenage boy who had no idea what soteriology, ecclesiology and eschatology meant. If I remember correctly, I couldn’t even spell them at the time.

But here is what I do remember: God called me to the ministry, particularly to be a pastor.

I rapidly grew in the Lord being in an environment of spiritual awakening. I read my Bible, even carrying it with me to school.

My prayer life became intimate and conversational with my Heavenly Father. I attended a dynamic church and had a preacher who preached the Word of God with clarity and great conviction.    

The Lord led me in two ways. First, to totally surrender to His Lordship. “A dead man is a good man.” I no longer belonged to myself.  I belonged to the King.

Randy C. Davis

Secondly, He led me to the pastorate. For months, I felt the tug of the Holy Spirit on my heart toward a particular ministry direction. All followers of Christ are in ministry regardless of vocation, but this was a specific call to church ministry leadership.

On my way home from working my grocery store job from close on a Saturday night until 5 a.m. the next morning — Easter Sunday — I pulled my VW Bug to the side of the road, prayed, wept and surrendered to God’s call to ministry.

I drove home, cleaned up and went to church. That Sunday morning in front of a resurrection-celebration crowd, I made public my decision to answer God’s call to ministry. No turning back; no wavering.

I preached anywhere and everywhere I could before Shiloh licensed me to preach. I preached at nursing homes, homeless shelters, addiction centers and street corners, and every now and then, at a church.   

There was nothing about my life that anyone would have pointed to and said, “That boy is going to be a preacher.” However, God uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, according to Paul. I was recently reminded, “God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.” That was me.

I went to William Carey University with the sole intention of preparing for ministry. I pastored my first church midway through my sophomore year, and Jeanne and I have served Jesus and His church together now for 47 of those 50 years. I am a blessed man.

Countless others I know share similar testimonies. God called, and we responded. It seemed a rich season of young people rising to answer a call to pastoral or church ministry.

However, the gushing fount of those responding has become a trickle. The “pipeline” funneling the called to local church pastorates appears dry, and we are left facing a monumental crisis. An estimated 400 to 450 Tennessee Baptist Churches are currently without pastors.

Add to that churches seeking to fill vocational student, worship, discipleship, and other ministry positions and the problem grows significantly.    

What to do? How do we respond?

1. Pray with urgency and expectancy for a mighty movement of God to raise up pastors and ministers.

2. Call out the called. Encourage others to pray about surrendering to gospel ministry.   

3. Collaborate together – all of us —  to encourage and equip those who are led to vocational ministry.

4. Appreciate and wholeheartedly support those in ministry right now.

I believe God is stirring in the hearts of young people from middle school aged through university students. I have met many collegians inclined toward ministry through our Tennessee Baptist Collegiate Ministries. Hope is building toward a new army of the called to serve TBC churches.  God can, and will, raise up a new generation of incredible ministry leaders.   

Will you join me in fanning that flame?

It is a joy to be with you on this journey.

© Tennessee Baptist Mission Board

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