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Workers for the harvest field

April 2007 | by Gary Aston

A common lament that echoes through the empty corridors of many churches is, ‘Where are all the young men for the ministry?’ It is a complex question. Undoubtedly many factors have contributed to the current situation, but one of them may simply be that we haven’t talked about it enough.

The profile of full-time gospel ministry has often been far too low, so a book that tackles it head-on has to be a good thing.
Workers for the harvest field sets out to ask the question, ‘How does God want me to use the gifts I have been given to best glorify him?’ It doesn’t suggest that full-time ministry will be for everyone, but it does insist that all Christians should be asking questions about what kind of service God wants them to perform.

The book splits into three sections – a definition of gospel ministry; varieties of gospel ministry; and the best path to gospel ministry.

Of the three, the middle section is the most valuable. Covering many different expressions of gospel ministry (student, youth, church planting, pastor-teacher, women’s, etc.) and written by folk actively engaged in those ministries, it shows a rich spectrum of available opportunities.

The closing section details some practical points (including an excellent chapter on full-time study) that can move someone who is ‘just considering’ into someone who is ‘actively testing’ the possibilities for full-time ministry.

As the book comes from the 9:38 stable (an interdenominational charity that helps people consider full-time ministry), their philosophy, practice and objectives are prominent – especially when it comes to apprenticeships.

The section defining ministry is of some value, but better treatments exist. Some may struggle particularly with the book’s understanding of what constitutes a ‘call’ to the ministry.

So it would be for the practical, ‘coal-face’ accounts of ministry that I would pass this book to someone considering the issue. These accounts provide a rich seedbed of insights and experiences that could whet appetites, stir thoughts and kindle desires.

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