Have you ever felt that God may be calling you into the ministry? If you have, you know it can be frustrating trying to figure out if your 'call' is legitimate or not. I recently read a book entitled Am I Called? by a man named Dave Harvey who helps those who feel called discern if that call is legitimate or not. Dave Harvey is the Pastor of Preaching at Four Oaks Community Church in Tallahassee, and serves as the Executive Director of Sojourn Network. Dave is also the founder of AmICalled.com, a leadership resource site helping pastors, leaders and men who sense a call to ministry and has 29 years of pastoral experience, with 19 years as a lead pastor. Dave chairs the board for the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF) and has traveled nationally and internationally doing conferences where he teaches Christians, equips pastors and trains church planters. He is the author of When Sinners Say I Do, Am I Called, and Rescuing Ambition, and is about to publish another book with Zondervan.
I recently was able to ask Dave a couple of questions about his recently revised book, Am I Called?
Brad: Writing a book is hard enough as it is. What prompted you to want to change the contents of a book you had already written?
Dave: Several things really. First, my life circumstances have changed significantly since I wrote the book. When I wrote it, I was part of a movement of churches called Sovereign Grace Churches, as well as an elder on staff at Covenant Fellowship Church. Since then, I have become the Pastor of Preaching at Four Oaks Church, in Tallahassee, Florida, and the Executive Director of the Sojourn Network. My point is that many of the illustrations and references I made in the book were related to my positions within Sovereign Grace and within Covenant Fellowship. Having launched AmICalled.com and assumed new ministry roles, I really needed an updated edition of the book that would reflect my current life circumstances. This is not an attempt to distance myself from a past that I treasure. In fact, the dedication of the book to the pastors of Covenant Fellowship Church remains the same. But that’s not the only reason. I've also focused and clarified my thoughts on some key topics since I wrote the initial version, and I wanted to communicate that in the revised version of the book.
Brad: What sort of clarifications are we talking about?
Dave: I really wanted to focus on the times I used the word “qualification” in conjunction with Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9. Specifically, I wanted to change the word “qualification” to the word “requirement”.
Brad: Why did you feel like a seemingly small change like that was necessary?
Dave: My experience in Sovereign Grace and in Covenant Fellowship church helped me to see areas of imbalance in the way these verses were understood and applied. I wanted to make sure that the book reflected what I’ve learned through some of the mistakes we made in evaluating men in ministry. Here are some of my takeaways that found their way into the revision. It’s essential to realize that the primary intent of 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9 is to identify potential elders, not for evaluating existing elders or creating a catalog of disqualifying sins. This does not imply they have no relevance, but simply acknowledges the original intent of the text. Since the first use of these passages is to evaluate men not yet in ministry, employing the term “qualifications” opens the door to misapplication for men already in ministry and implies that an ordained pastor with a weakness in any area listed may be subject to disqualification. For understanding the discipline and disqualification of elders, a more important passage and practice is found in 1 Timothy 5:19-21, which exists to both protect elders from frivolous charges while also ensuring a congregation has recourse against elders engaged in misconduct. So, it is better, not to mention closer to the original intent of 1 Tim 3 and Titus 1, to use the word “requirements” rather than “qualifications”.
Brad: What is your hope for this updated version of the book?
Dave: I truly believe that this book is the most important thing I've written. First and foremost, I hope it brings clarity to men who are exploring the call to church plant, pastor or elder. I hope to hear even more stories of Am I Called? being used by God to bring men into ministry. I also hope that my clarifications and changes serve men in ministry, as well as men being evaluated for ministry.
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I am a Husband to Clarissa, Pastor at Liberty Baptist Church, reader of many books, and tweeter at @brad_merchant.