May means Bible college graduation across America, and it is an exciting time. I remember when I graduated from the Norris Bible Baptist Institute in 1997; I was 22 years old and ready to attack hell with a squirt gun. After years of 7 am classes and all-night work shifts in warehouses and freight docks, and then squeezing a couple of hours of sleep in during the afternoon (and maybe some in class), I was ready to be in “the ministry.” I wanted to pastor or serve on staff somewhere, and start putting my all that knowledge to work.
However, no staff positions came my way, and churches weren’t looking for 22 year old pastors (at least, none called me). Anyway, it was my goal to start a church, but my pastor was very wise to advise me to wait a few years before trying to take on the responsibilities of pastoring. We did so, staying at our home church for 3 years while continuing to pull pallet jacks and drive forklifts and mule trucks around a freight dock all night long, 50 hours a week. During that time I stayed very busy in my home church, serving as a bus captain, deacon, teacher, etc. At 24, we began preparing to start a church; at 25, we started Lighthouse Baptist Church in Wylie, Texas.
What can a young man do who is called to full-time service, has finished Bible college, but doesn’t seem to have any full time or even part time opportunities available because of his age, inexperience, etc? Allow me to give some thoughts:
- Go home and help your home church. Many young people leave their home churches and go off to college; their home church has invested in them, but they don’t often get to see the investment. Why not go back home and put your knowledge and skills to work by helping out your home pastor and home church? Go soul-winning, run a children’s church, help with the youth, run a bus route, be a volunteer staff member. You could be a real blessing and gain great experience if you come back with some real zeal, enthusiasm, and a willingness to serve and be a helpful part of the church.
- Go help a new church plant. Be a volunteer second man to a church planter. Again, you will gain some great experience, and in a new church plant there is no shortage of things to do.
- Go to a church and serve as a volunteer staff member. Don’t overlook the opportunities in a “small” church. Sometimes, they are greater than in a large church with a paid staff. In a large church, you may never “climb the ladder” to be a youth pastor, assistant pastor, etc – but many smaller churches would love to have someone fill those roles, but they can’t afford to pay them a salary. Go and make a difference.
- Go to a mission field and help a missionary.
Of course, you should seek your pastor’s counsel, as I did.
Many young preachers will find out what many young lawyers, business professionals, and other college graduates are finding out – having a college degree does not guarantee anything. There is nothing wrong with a preacher wanting to serve God full time and devote all of his time and energy into God’s work, but if such an opportunity is not available, find one that is. Just because it isn’t what you always wanted doesn’t mean it is not what God intended.
Just some thoughts. Thanks for reading. God bless.