God has called me to preach to church people—those church people who think they know the God of the Bible but, honestly, haven’t really encountered Him yet. They love a good sermon and teach a good Sunday School lesson, but rarely get blown away with the biblical God. I am called by God to change that.

Several events in my life brought me to this.

The first I can remember is being at a youth camp in 1989. I don’t remember the preacher’s name. I don’t remember the theme of the camp. I was 12. I was there with my best friend. DC Talk performed one night. Other than that, I really only recall one thing: the preacher taught the Word in a way that compelled me. I was intrigued. I was captivated. I couldn’t wait until the next night when he would open the Scriptures for us again.

The second came a few years later when I was asked to teach an adult Sunday School class on “Youth Sunday.” I don’t remember the passage. I don’t remember the point of the lesson, but I do remember my dad helping me understand an implication of the text. I remember being amazed at the power of the Word, and I remember the men and women in the class being struck by the truth I taught. I remember the look on their faces when they “got it” and the feeling in my gut when I unpacked the truth and implication.

The third event came my senior year in high school. Again, I was at a youth camp. I don’t remember the theme of the camp. I remember being at the beach. I remember the preacher’s name being Brandon, and I remember him teaching/preaching the Word of God in a way that drew me in like never before. I remember thinking, “I want to do for others what Brandon did for my soul this week.”

A fourth moment for me came on a Wednesday night when I was a youth pastor in North Alabama. I remember it was during the summer. I remember the student room being jam packed with students. I remember illustrating a biblical truth. I don’t remember the text or the illustration, but I remember the entire room laughing at the illustration one second and then being struck with truth the next. I remember the moment because it was like a lightning bolt of energy ran through my bones. I knew I wanted to do this forever.

Finally, an event God used to confirm He called me to preach to church people happened about a month into my first pastorate. The deacon chairman dropped by the mobile home where my wife and I lived and “ordered” me to come with him. I got in his truck, and we drove to a nearby church building where a young man was being ordained. The deacon chairman, myself, along with about 35 other men were going to sit in on this young man’s ordination council. The candidate was asked, “What happens to those overseas who die, having never heard the gospel?” His response, “They have never heard, so they will go to heaven.” I was mortified. Until I heard what happened next. The room erupted with some of the loudest “Amens” I have ever encountered in a Baptist church. Then I was mortified and horrified. I was sitting in a room full of Baptist men who grew up in church, were leading committees, and teaching Sunday School classes. Yet they did not know the God of the Bible. God used that moment to confirm what He had called me to do: preach the God of the Bible to those who think they know Him.

What can you learn from this?

  • God uses your life story to shape you into what He has called you to do. He doesn’t waste anything.
  • Pay attention to what gives you energy.
  • Watch for moments God uses to confirm His specific calling on your life.
  • Lean in to those moments God has used you to impact people.
  • Ask, “Is what I am called to do an obvious gift God has given me?”