November 1, 2019
East Texas Baptist University hosted its fifth annual Calling Conference on Wednesday, October 30 for ETBU students who are drawn to vocational ministry. The conference hosted and provided students with a deeper understanding of specific callings with opportunities to learn from experienced ministry professionals.
“The Calling Conference is a great opportunity for students to hear from individuals who are doing the work that they are interested in pursuing,” ETBU Director of Ministry Guidance Jeremy Greer said. “We heard their hearts and their experiences, and students were able to ask them questions. Our hope is for students to leave with a clear sense of direction, feel encouraged in their endeavors, and continue to pursue that calling.”
After the opening session, the Calling Conference continued during the University’s chapel service with a message from Dr. Brent Gentzel, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church Kaufman. Dr. Gentzel encouraged all students, regardless of their major, to pursue their vocational calling.
“It would be easy to think that this whole calling I’ve been talking about is just for people who are going to serve in a church, but if you are here, and you are a follower of Jesus Christ you are called,” Dr. Gentzel said. “Whether you’re a plumber, carpenter, pastor, or teacher, if God called you into that field, then you should serve because you believe God put you there to use you as part of His revolution. Don’t make the mistake of settling for an occupation, something you do for a paycheck. Make the decision to do what God has called you to do.”
Following chapel, participants heard from a panel of ministry professionals and chose from a variety of breakout sessions to attend on topics such as pastoral ministry, worship and communications, Hispanic ministry, and youth ministry.
“The Calling Conference helped me realize that I would not be working alone,” ETBU junior religion major Jose Hi said. “I enjoyed hearing from an entire church staff as they spoke about how they work together. Many times a lot of fresh graduates think about what they think God can do through them, forgetting that God is already at work through many people. This helped me realize that my daily spiritual walk is done with and affects my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.”
Pastor of Stewardship at FBC Kaufman Jason Thurston was called to serve in youth ministry after chasing a career in retail management.
“Youth ministers love their students so much that we not only share the Gospel with them, but we share our own lives,” Thurston said. “In youth ministry, it’s easy to focus on what we are doing or the big events we are planning. When we stop focusing on the people we are doing life with then we lose our focus on Him. It’s about relationships. The key is finding balance.”
As a Christ-centered institution, East Texas Baptist prepares and equips students to excel academically and spiritually. Each year, the Calling Conference impacts many East Texas Baptist students as they receive wisdom and advice on responding to God’s calling on their life.
“The Calling Conference offers our students access to a wide array of experienced ministers eager to share encouragement and counsel,” Intercessory Prayer Ministry Coordinator Cari Johnson said. “My hope is that within this heightened awareness, students will perceive the calling God has on their lives, and latch on to the courage to follow it.”