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Answering the call to start The Call

By Blake Holden
Feb 14, 2017

Starting this summer, MNU will host The Call, a one-week youth theology institute.

Designed and led by Ron Jackson, institute director and assistant professor of youth and family ministry, The Call is a youth theology institute for high school juniors and seniors attempting to explore their call to ministry.

The Call Institute is sponsored by MNU and made possible by a grant from the Lilly Endowment, an institution that provides funds to organizations that seek to reach schools and communities. Jackson said the Lilly Endowment gave the program roughly $150,000 to spend each year, a total of $600,000, which will be spent in lodging, food, program materials, the employee’s salaries and any other costs.

The price for this camp would normally be about $390 per student, but with the endowment, students can attend The Call for $95.

The Call is a weeklong theology institute that MNU will be hosting for high school juniors and seniors June 5-9 and 12-16. The Call logo used courtesy of Ron Jackson.  The Call is a weeklong theology institute that MNU will be hosting for high school juniors and seniors June 5-9 and 12-16. The Call logo used courtesy of Ron Jackson.

Dr. Kelvin St. John, spiritual formation director for The Call, will be guiding students as they seek to develop their call to ministry. He said the students will be participating in the Great Silence at night and will not be able to speak to another person in an attempt to connect with God more.

“It’s a neat way to spend time with God, be really aware of his presence, and then, hopefully the first thing in the morning, hear God’s voice through the Word before you hear anything else,” St. John said.


With the $150,000 per year, The Lilly Endowment has given enough money for The Call to remain open for four years without needing to receive additional funding. Jackson said the goal is to be completely self-sustaining by the end of four years, preferably by donations from churches.

“What Lilly has found out through their research is that there’s been an increase in people majoring in ministry in seminary as a direct result of the programs they’ve been running,” Jackson said.

With the addition of The Call, MNU was able to bring Jackson on as a part-time professor, something they had been trying to do for three years.

“I wanted to come teach part-time, but I couldn’t afford it,” Jackson said. “This allows me to afford it and then gives me the ability to do another passion of mine, which is what I’ve done my whole life, which is discipling young people.”

During the weeklong workshop, students will experience daily individual and corporate worship, theological training, Biblical instruction, and on the Thursdays students will go off-campus for service learning.

Students will live in the dorms with current MNU students serving as RA’s. Ashton Mason, senior youth and family ministry major, and John Stubblefield, senior ministry major, are the lead student-coordinators for The Call. Stubblefield and Mason will primarily be helping other student interns as they lead.

“I hope, first of all, to give my interns everything they need in order to focus solely on mentoring their students,” Stubblefield said. “These weeks are not about us at all but about nurturing the calling of God in the lives of these students. This means listening, building relationships, giving advice if need be, and, perhaps most importantly, modeling Christ for these teens. We have been given a great opportunity and a heavy burden to minister to these students and I pray that God will work in us, through us, and around us for his glory.”

Under Mason and Stubblefield are six other MNU student interns, three men and women. Each of them will have eight students who they will work with, and there are more RAs on call if more students attend.

“I hope that each student that comes through [The Call] knows that they have a place in the Kingdom of God,” Mason said. “Whether that is as a pastor, nurse, teacher, etc. I just want  every person to know that there is room for them, and the Lord desires to use them.”

Jackson said he is currently trying to encourage people to check out The Call’s website,, to learn more and to decide if the program is somewhere that God is calling them to serve.  “I feel like it was a word that the Lord gave me, that the Church, or the Body, refined,” said Jackson.

Blake Holden

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Blake Holden ('18) is an Intercultural Studies major at MNU. Blake is the life editor for the Trailblazer, is from Monett, Missouri, and is planning on going into international Business upon graduation.

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