East Texas Baptist University hosted the third-annual Calling Conference on September 27 for ETBU students exploring vocational ministry. The conference began with a discussion-oriented session, providing opportunity for students to explore various ideas related to vocational calling. A time of worship, focused on the universal call to salvation, followed. The panel discussion featured all of the breakout session leaders, including First Baptist Woodway Community Pastor René Maciel, Founder of Doorpost Songs David Ray, Texas Baptists (BGCT) Children’s Ministry Specialist Diane Lane, South Oaks Baptist Church Minister to Students and Young Adults Carlos Montoya, and International Mission Board Representative Ron Harmon. The breakout sessions equipped students with an in-depth understanding of specific, vocational callings.

“Through the Conference, our students are able to discern and clarify their ministry callings through hearing from and dialoging with experienced practitioners in various ministry fields,” ETBU Director of Ministry Guidance Jeremy Greer shared. “The wisdom and experience that these leaders shared with our students provides a powerful means for the Lord to give shape to the ministry calling of our students. I am grateful that the Lord once again used the Calling Conference to impact ETBU’s emerging generation of ministry leaders.”

The half-day conference enables students to understand the realistic logistics of working in ministry by providing various opportunities to ask questions in groups and meet with ministry professionals individually. The keynote speaker for the conference was René Maciel. Maciel has been involved in the Baptist community for over 30 years. He served as the President for Baptist University of the Americas for nine years and as the Texas Baptists (BGCT) President for 2015-2016. Currently, Maciel is the Community Pastor of First Baptist Woodway in Waco, Texas. During the conference, he challenged students to listen to God’s call on their life through the story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19.

“You must train to be in vocational ministry today,” Maciel expressed. “You must also seek His direction, meaning we must pray, asking God to show us, prepare us, and lead us as we serve. Vocational ministry is an incredible responsibility that will bless you, but more than that, will bless so many. You are God’s hands and feet, serving the body of Christ.”

The Calling Conference encouraged students in their call to ministry as well as educated them with the experiences of others who have already worked in ministry. The lessons delivered to the students reassured them in their individual callings and motivated them to follow God’s plan for their lives.

“I attended the Youth Ministry Workshop led by Carlos Montoya,” ETBU senior and Religion major Conner Guthrie said. “He presented a challenging exercise. Every time he reflects on an event, he asks himself two questions: am I still relevant and am I still passionate about what I do? If he answers “no” to either question, he believes that God wants him to move on,” Guthrie continued. “I think these questions make us rely on God’s plan rather than our own. The Lord has used ETBU to prepare for my future ministry through the staff, faculty, and classes available at the University. They challenge me in ways that propel me forward in my faith and education.”