Never Called to Ministry

by Nathan Good, Swamp congregation

I never had a lights-out, knocked off my donkey, heard the voice of Jesus, and woke up with a printed Bible verse that had fallen out of a hymnal call-to-ministry experience.  In fact, even now, I often say that the biggest evidence that I was called to ministry was the fact that I had been called to ministry (by a local congregation).

I did not set out on my journey towards adulthood imagining myself as a pastor, much less as the pastor of a Mennonite congregation, MUCH LESS as the pastor of the congregation that my mom was born and baptized in, that my grandmother was born and baptized in, and, to the best of my knowledge, that my great-grandmother was born and baptized in.

I would not be in vocational ministry today if it weren’t for my parents showing an example of what ministry looks like even when you aren’t compensated for it.

I would not be in vocational ministry today if it weren’t for Pastor Larry Moyer’s biblical and inspirational sermons at Rocky Ridge, Pastor Jeff Evans and Randy Gehlert taking me on as an intern at Christ Community Bible Church, and Pastor Verle Brubaker taking a chance on this fiery 22-year-old as an associate pastor at Swamp.

I would not be in vocational ministry today if it weren’t for an intense searching when I was 17 that included a timely conversation, followed by a sermon less than 12 hours later directly speaking to that conversation, followed by a dream/vision two days later (all disconnected “coincidences”) that convinced me that I was not actually called overseas, but that God was calling me to the unchurched people right in my backyard.

My journey to ministry wound through West Chester University where I studied Sociology and Psychology from a secular perspective while also doing “door to door” evangelism around campus.  My journey to ministry included handing out tracts at Memorial Park in Quakertown on the fourth of July on one occasion and carrying a 7-foot cross down Broad Street in Philadelphia, then handing out bagged lunches and preaching on a street corner under the El in Kensington on another occasion.  My journey to ministry included preaching at Chosen 300 Ministry in Philadelphia, Allentown Rescue Mission, and being tasked with tending to the spiritual health of the counselors at Haycock Summer Camp one summer.

The prompting of a woman in my quilting circle at Christ Community Bible Church led me to apply to Swamp Mennonite Church.  My role as Associate Pastor allowed me to attend seminary while also working full-time and, eventually, led to the call to Lead Pastor following Verle Brubaker’s retirement.  There were once again too many “coincidences” to ignore.

In the end, I believe that every Christian is called to ministry.  My personal call was and is to motivate the church towards evangelism.  I’ve learned along the way that the root of evangelism is a heart in tune with and in love with God, that the content of evangelism is Jesus, and that the call of evangelism is repentance in the community of the church.

When was I called to vocational ministry?  You may say I was always called, you may say I was never called.  In my heart I know God created me for what I’m doing today, and that I will continue working at it as long as it is called Today.