News - Calling: Called or Not Called, Four Steps to Solving the Puzzle

Calling: Called or Not Called, Four Steps to Solving the Puzzle

Called by God or not called by God, that is the question—one that sometimes troubles students pondering the ministry says Dean of the Chapel and Director of Spiritual Formation Lori Gaffner.

Lori, also assistant professor in philosophy and theology, has advised many ministry students at Greenville College in a career that has spanned more than 25 years.

“I often refer them to H. Richard Niebuhr’s writings (The Purpose of the Church and Its Ministry) on the four dimensions of call that come to those who are set apart for vocational ministry,” she explains, adding that the dimensions typically unfold in a sequence. Here it is:

Missy DealThe Call to Be a Christian – goes out to all who would respond to God’s grace, calling us back into fellowship through the saving grace and mercy of Jesus Christ.  This call comes to everyone, but not everyone responds. Alumna Missy Deal '16 describes calling for everyone. 

Aaron Cobb


The Secret Call - is when we feel the Holy Spirit speaking to us in our innermost being, calling us to “do” something, to “be” something for God.  It’s a growing passion from within that is often hard to describe because it happens differently for everyone. Example: Alumnus Aaron Cobb '01

Jarrod SeveringThe Providential Call - involves a thoughtful analysis of circumstances, experiences, talents, and aptitudes.  In other words, it affirms a simple notion:  God never calls us to do what we’ve not been prepared to do (1 Thessalonians 5:24). And yet, sometimes God does call us to positions and places that we never dreamed we could possibly go or that we doubt we could ever do what we’re asked to do. That’s when we need to rely on God’s grace and our ability to step out in faith and grow. But generally, the providential call is the step we take when we honestly look at who God made us to be—and if our “secret call” matches that person. In short, if we have no musical talent at all, we’re probably not called to be a worship leader! Example: Alumnus Jarrod Severing '93

Paul Reese with Bishop CurryThe Ecclesiastical call – is a confirmation by the Christian community that the individual’s call to ministry is genuine and recognized by the church. Far more than a “rubber stamp,” the ecclesiastical call is a solemn and critical responsibility of the church. It affirms both the secret call (internal) that an individual has experienced, and the providential call (circumstantial) as well. Click here for an Example: Alumnus Paul Reese '08

GC Vision: We inspire students to embrace God's call. Go here to tell us your story about embracing God's call.

Together Inspired-sm

This story was published on September 28, 2016

Check Out These Related Majors/Minors

comments powered by Disqus
315 E. College Avenue
Greenville, Illinois 62246-1145
800.345.4440 / 618.664.7100
Contact Us © 2000-18 Greenville University. All rights reserved.
Greenville University is authorized to operate as a postsecondary educational institution by the Illinois Board of Higher Education
Accreditation | IBHE Complaint Form