Dave Harvey, director of church planting with Sovereign Grace Ministries, gives practical advice to young men considering a calling to pastoral ministry. Harvey writes this book in a very conversational manner, as if sitting at a kitchen table with a young man (a high school student, college student, or young adult). This casual style at times is overused, but Harvey’s desire is to make this book accessible to his target audience of young men. Harvey has little to offer women wrestling with their callings to various ministry areas, but his target audience is not women.
The first part of the book deals with the theology of calling. Harvey focuses on the calling of all Christians to godly character and activity (mercy and love) before ever entertaining a calling to a church position. One’s call to salvation and to ministry “ultimately says little about us and a great deal about the Caller. . . . And before he calls us to ministry, he calls us to himself” (pp. 35–36). One’s identity should be grounded on the gospel and not on one’s employment. Based on this identity, ministry is then able to flow out of one’s weakness (and even fears) rather than abilities and performance. This is a good reminder for all who are in ministry.
The remainder of the book is a series of six questions based on 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, with a chapter devoted to each issue: (1) Are you godly? (character qualities of godliness, maturity, and servanthood). (2) How’s your home? (leadership at home with one’s wife and kids). (3) Can you preach? (giftedness in communicating the gospel). (4) Can you shepherd? (a heart for pastoral care). (5) Do you love the lost? (passion for evangelism). And (6) Who agrees? (external confirmation of one’s call by the local church).
The best part of the book is the last chapter titled “While You Wait.” If a person is truly sensing a move toward vocational ministry but is not able to act fully on that calling, what is he to do as he waits? How does a person prepare his soul, his life, and his mind for “the joys and rigors of ministry” to come? Harvey offers practical suggestions on things that a young man can do now in his local church (and in educational training) while in preparation. This chapter has excellent advice.
As an introduction to each chapter in the book, Harvey has a short historical profile of a figure in church history who illustrates the diversity of “summons stories” in the lives of pastors. These include Thomas Scott, Charles Simeon, Lemuel Haynes, Martin Luther, David Martin Lloyd-Jones, James Montgomery Boice, Charles Spurgeon, John Bunyan, and John Newton. These brief two-to-three-page profiles add a nice touch to the book’s theme.
However, even though Harvey has a strong focus on church-based pastoral ministries for young men, some may become disheartened in their searching process. Harvey even recognizes this himself, stating, “I’ve been sobered to realize that this book will undoubtedly, to some extent, be an instrument of sorrow in some men’s lives” (p. 195). Harvey’s love and passion for the local church and for the sacredness of pastoral ministry is evident throughout. Some may feel he has unintentionally devalued all ministries other than the pastorate. What about young men whose calling is not to the pulpit ministry but to other forms of ministry in a local church (e.g., associate pastor, music minister, student minister)? What about young men whose calling is to a parachurch ministry (e.g., teaching in Christian schools, evangelism outreach, homeless ministry)? And what about the new generation of “missionally focused” young adults who see their calling as being outside the four walls of a traditional church? One could wish Harvey had explicitly expressed the value of all ministries done in the name of Christ.
About the Contributors
Dr. George M Hillman Jr. serves as the Vice President for Education and Professor of Educational Ministries and Leadership at Dallas Theological Seminary. He oversees all Seminary activities related to academics and student life. This includes overseeing the extension campuses (Austin, Atlanta, Guatemala, Houston, San Antonio, Washington, D.C.), teaching locations in NW Arkansas and College Station, an extension initiative in Ft. Worth, and Online Education (English, Chinese, and Spanish), admissions, registrar, financial aid, academic advising, Spiritual Formation and Ministry Formation programs, student government, student counseling services, and student activities. Prior to stepping into the role of Vice President in 2017, George served as the Chair of the Educational Ministries and Leadership Department at DTS. He oversaw the MA in Christian Education and the MA in Christian Leadership degree programs. He is also the former Director of Internships at DTS.
George came to DTS in 2002 with years of pastoral experience in churches and parachurch organizations in Texas and Georgia. Nationally known in theological field education, he has been active in the leadership of both the Association of Theological Field Education (former member of the National Steering Committee) and the Evangelical Association of Theological Field Educators (former two-time national co-chair). In his role as Vice President for Education DTS, George has become active in the Association of Christians in Student Develop (ACSD), the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), and the National Association of International Educators (NASFA) . He is the author or co-author of six books on theological field education, church educational ministry, pastoral leadership, and several journal articles on similar topics.
George has a BS in Sociology from Texas A&M University, an MDiv and PhD in Education Administration from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. George has a passion for education, spiritual formation, and leadership development.
George is active in leadership at Frisco Bible Church. He is a rabid college football fan and loves good barbeque. He has been married to his wife Jana since 1990, and they have one grown daughter who is pursuing a career in the arts. They live in Frisco, Texas.