A New and Biblical Way to Extend a Call to Ministry


by Dr. Tony Campolo


We’re not doing it right! Some of the brightest and best young men and women fail to be called into church vocations. It’s no secret that churches grow or decline, depending on the preaching and leadership skills of their pastors. Yet we’re letting many of the best possible candidates slip away from us. That is largely because we are not following the Biblically prescribed way of calling young people into the ministries of our churches.

We’re reactive rather than being proactive. Typically, a church waits for some young person to present himself or herself to the pastor or a deacon or announce that he or she “feels a call.” There is little or no confirmation of such a subjective sense of calling, and hardly ever is there a questioning of such a call. It is no wonder that so many of those who go into the pastorate, or other forms of church ministry, are likely to question their calling in the years that lie ahead. They often ask, “How do I know that the feeling I had was really a call from the Lord?”

There’s a better way. We find it in the Book of Acts. When choosing its leaders the early church watched potential candidates over a period of time, and when the people “were together and of one accord” (Acts 1.14; 2.1) they hand-selected them for special roles as preachers and ministers. After Paul became a spirit-filled Christian those in the Christian community watched and prayed for him for a couple of years before they designated him for preaching and missionary service. They prayerfully considered whether he had the gifts for preaching and teaching before they decided to ordain him. The same was true for Barnabas and Silas. It was the church that decided Matthias should take the place vacated by Judas. It was always the Church that did the calling into the vocations of leadership.

What if we followed the way that the early Church did it? Instead of leaving it up to the subjective feelings of individuals, what if the Church designated who is called to be preachers, teachers, and evangelists?

What we are proposing is that the deacons, or elders, or whoever makes up the spiritual leaders of a local congregation commit to carefully observe the young people that are part of their community of faith. They should then meet regularly for prayer and discussion over several months and seek out the young people who have “the gifts” for preaching and leading and then plan to extend the call to such person or persons.

Imagine that perhaps on some Saturday morning a couple of the deacons or elders took a “chosen” young person to breakfast, and after the meal, explained that they, along with the other spiritual leaders of the church had been seeking God’s will and had decided that particular young person should accept a call to the ministry. A given candidate would then have a frame of reference for his or her calling that transcended subjective feelings.


After extending the call the promise should be made that if the answer is “yes,” the church will stand behind the candidate with prayer and financial support. Many of those who go through college and seminary to prepare for the ministries of the Church do not get to live out their calling. After paying for years of training, upon graduation they are so deeply in debt that they cannot afford to serve in church vocations that usually provide very low salaries.
When a church calls someone to pastoral ministry or to do missionary work the church should do its best to provide the financial aid so that the candidate can graduate debt free.

If a church is struggling financially The Campolo Center for Ministry will join up with that church and seek to raise the needed funds to provide for that “called” young person. That’s why we need your help! Would you become a contributor to the Campolo Center for Ministry so that we can make all of this happen?

While the student is studying here at Eastern we will provide the spiritual support that will nurture zeal for spreading the Gospel and building up the Church. We will seek to get the home church regularly involved with prayer.
The statistical studies of religion in America show that many churches are dying. We believe we can provide new life for our churches with the right kind of ministerial leaders, and the Campolo Center for Ministry will help make this happen.

Click here to give online:

Campolo Center Donate Page
or send your tax-deductible gifts to:

Campolo Center for Ministry
at Eastern University
P. O. Box 7238
St. Davids, PA 19087-7238

For more information or to donate
by phone, please call Robert Gauthier:
Local: 610-341-1715
Toll free: 855-612-3273

“It was the worst of times, it was the best of times.”

Charles Dickens once wrote, “It was the worst of times, it was the best of times.”  And that’s the way it is for me these days.

These are the worst of times for me because, as you know, the date of June 30th, when EAPE legally shuts down, is quickly approaching.  I will miss the joy that goes with our mission of launching new ministries, and the gratification of watching young people that we (EAPE) have recruited, trained and spiritually nurtured emerge as Christian leaders.  Some have become pastors and youth ministers in local churches and others, who had entrepreneurial skills, have become founders of their own ministries in Third World countries and in “at risk” neighborhoods in cities across North America.  I’m enclosing a brochure which will remind you of a few of the twenty-two ministries that have been part of EAPE’s gospel spreading efforts over the past forty years, and in which so many young people gained their vision for Christian service.

These are also the best of times, because I am realizing that you are continuing to financially support EAPE during these difficult days, enabling us to fulfill obligations to our fledgling spin off ministries, each of which has moved progressively toward being self-supporting.

Please keep giving to EAPE because we continue to use your gifts to do the good work God has called us to do.  Your giving made it possible for us to support one of our affiliated programs, The Simple Way.  This ministry, located in a derelict neighborhood in Philadelphia, is restoring dilapidated houses and selling them to low-income families at cost with no down payment and long term mortgages with no interest.  This is part of the mission not only to bring the good news of God’s salvation to individuals, but also to bring people together to change this neighborhood into the kind of community that God wants it to be.  In response one single mother of three children said, “I’m so grateful that my God cares about what kind of house we live in!”

Another reason these are the best of times is that I feel myself being freed up to develop The Campolo Center for Ministry here at Eastern University, where I’ll still have my office. This center will undergird the preaching and teaching ministries through which I will continue to challenge young men and women to commit themselves to full-time Christian vocations.

As I move into this new stage of my life, I hope you will keep up with what I will be doing. You can do that by visiting where you’ll find a calendar of my speaking engagements.  There you can also log on to the weekly pod-casts of my radio program “Across the Pond.”  If you want a hard copy of when and where I will be speaking, write to:

Robert Gauthier
c/o The Campolo Center for Ministry
Eastern University
1300 Eagle Road
St. Davids, PA 19010

I’m counting on your prayers and your continued financial support for EAPE, right up through June 30th.


Tony Campolo
Founder and President, EAPE

P.S.  Over the years several of you have listed EAPE in your wills.  Would you be willing to change the beneficiary from EAPE to The Campolo Center for Ministry?  I would be forever grateful to have your support in this special way.  If this is a change you’re willing to make or if you have any questions, please call Robert Gauthier at 610-341-1715.

Tony’s Vision for The Campolo Center for Ministry

I keep getting asked, “Tony! With EAPE phasing out, what will you be doing with yourself?” Here’s how I answer, “I will continue to do my weekly radio show on the Premiere Radio Network in the United Kingdom; speak about 200 times a year at churches, universities, and conferences; do some writing and classroom teaching; and most importantly develop The Campolo Center for Ministry.”

The purpose of the Center will be to recruit young women and men to serve the Church as ministers, youth workers, and missionaries.  Over the years through EAPE’s ministries, more than 1,000 young people have committed themselves to these kinds of vocations for God’s kingdom.  I want to do more of that!

Through preaching and teaching I will work hard to urge college-aged Christians to give themselves to full evangelistic and social justice ministries.  With offices at Eastern University, the Campolo Center will nurture and help these young people through both their undergraduate and graduate studies.

High on my list of priorities will be raising funds to help finance the education of these committed Christians.  That way when they finish their studies they won’t graduate with a heavy debt load.  The cost of higher education is so high that many of those who planned to go into Christian ministries have had to spend years earning enough to pay off their college loans.  Too often their debts have kept some of the brightest and best of them from ever living out their hope for full time vocations in ministry.  The Center will try to keep that from happening.

At the core of what we do will be the proclamation of a wholistic gospel.  We will combine evangelism and social justice so that our graduates will be challenged to win people to Christ who, in turn, will endeavor to change the world from what it is into what God wants it to be.  That is what EAPE has been all about, and the Center will seek to propagate that kind of gospel.

You will be hearing more about all I’ll be doing in the future, but for now I just wanted you to know that there won’t be any grass growing under my feet.  In the meantime, keep up your support for EAPE.  We still have a lot of work to do between now and June 30th, and I’m depending on you.


Tony Campolo
Founder and President, EAPE

P.S.  You can listen to podcasts of the radio show I do in the U.K. by visiting

The Campolo Center for Ministry

GREAT NEWS!!  Cornerstone Christian Academy, the school EAPE started and supported achieved full accreditation from Middle States Association of Colleges and School Commission Elementary and Secondary Schools.  This shows that our school, located in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Philadelphia, is not only helping “at risk” children get a good handle on what Christianity is all about, but is doing so while maintaining very high standards of education.  We’re thrilled!

MORE GOOD NEWS!  There are twenty young adults, Micah Scholars, who have been recruited, and are being supported by our EAPE ministry in Haiti.  They are now studying at various seminaries in and around Port-au-Prince.  When they graduate they will serve as pastors, church planters, and Christian education directors for churches throughout their country.

And another thing – Recently Brian Ballard of Red Letter Christians, another of our EAPE programs, spent several days in Haiti teaching these Micah Scholars how to use the Internet.  I love it when our separately incorporated ministries network and find ways to help each other.  Brian is a wiz with computers and an outstanding teacher.  He did much to make the Micah Scholars more effective servants for God’s Kingdom.

Please note that we will continue to support all of EAPE’s ministries until the end of June.  Between now and then we are hoping you will transfer your monthly support to one or more of the EAPE ministries which best focus on your heartfelt concerns. If you have not already done so, please contact my office to let us know which of EAPE’s ministries you would like to direct your future giving.

Do not think that I will stop doing ministry.  I will go on preaching, recruiting young people for Christian ministries, and carrying on missionary work.  But after June 30th, I’ll be doing my ministry work under the umbrella of the Campolo Center for Ministry (CCM) at Eastern University.  I’ll tell you more about that later.  Each of our ongoing EAPE ministries needs your continued giving.  Pray for them! Pray for me!  Transitions are hard to handle.  Thanks for all you continue to do for EAPE.

Tony Campolo

Founder and President, EAPE

P.S. If you missed the Philadelphia Inquirer’s article about Tony and the future of EAPE, you can read the online version here:


40 Years of Ministry!

If you read our January newsletter you know that as of June 30th, after more than 40 years of incredible ministry, EAPE will close down.  We can say that because with your help and God’s blessings, “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!”

For four decades EAPE provided “seed money” and/or did the organizing for 16 missionary organizations.  EAPE also provided essential undergirding for several existing ministries that needed our help.  Just for the record let me list them for you.

  • Red Letter Christians
  • Mission Year
  • The National Evangelical University of the Dominican Republic (now with 15,000 students)
  • The Technical University of the South in the Dominican Republic (now with 4,000 students)
  • Cornerstone Christian Academy
  • Haiti Partners
  • Beyond Borders (in Haiti)
  • Urban Promise (Camden)
  • Connect Ministries (Toronto)
  • Plant with Purpose (formerly Floresta)
  • Eastern University’s graduate programs for micro-economic development in the Third World and in urban America
  • Kingdom Works
  • Nehemiah Youth Mission
  • Camden Printworks
  • The Walnut Hills Fellowship
  • The Urban Youth Workers Convention

Over the years we also have partnered with several ministries that needed help with funding and/or recruiting mission workers.

  • Aquila Way (in the UK)
  • Going Public (Wales, UK)
  • Signposts International (Scotland)
  • SPEAK (in the UK)
  • Evangeline Ministries (South Africa)
  • Peace of the City
  • REACH Ministries
  • Born to Serve
  • Urban Mentors Network
  • Urban Promise International (Malawi, Honduras, Canada)
  • The Palau Industrial School (in the South Pacific)
  • Oasis (in Zimbabwe)
  • Zero28

Among the several thousand young men and women we recruited to serve in these ministries over the years, there are those we were able to challenge and nurture into serving in church vocations across North America and in an array of Third World countries.  Almost anywhere my travels take me these days, I meet up with former EAPE mission workers who tell me that they are in Christian ministry today because of the training and experiences they had while serving with us.

In my previous newsletter I pointed out that each of our affiliated mission organizations has become independently incorporated with its own governing board, executive director, and sustaining financial base.  However, there are ten of these ministries upon which we are especially focused – and need ongoing support.  They are listed here.  If you haven’t done so earlier, we would very much appreciate it if you would identify which of them you wish to transfer your financial support that you previously gave to EAPE.  Please call or email us to let us know and we will pass on that information to the organization(s) you have chosen.

While we want you as soon as possible to transfer your financial support to one of these EAPE affiliated organizations, we nevertheless want you to know that EAPE will continue staying active and doing what we’ve always done right up to June 30th. We hope that we’ll have enough funding to keep us going until then – so if you have a few extra dollars please send them our way.

Keep praying for us, especially during this wonderful time of transition.

Tony Campolo

Founder and President, EAPE

(On behalf of EAPE’s Board of Directors)

P.S. If you missed the Philadelphia Inquirer’s article about Tony and the future of EAPE, you can read the online version here:

Yes! And… Our History

It began on the moon.

Yes! And...Yes! And… began as a dream of a few theatre students at Eastern University who wanted to work with kids and the arts in the spring of 1998. They approached their theatre director, Mark Hallen who had been a part of a Pew Foundation notable arts program called MUSE many years earlier. Together they schemed and dreamed and a few months later, Eastern Summer Theatre Camp was born.

That summer children from UrbanPromise in Camden, Barry School in West Philadelphia, the simple way in North Philadelphia and the suburban Main Line all came together for 10 days to play, sing, dance and imagine. The final performance, titled “Moon Dance” was full of the energy and joy that was generated by this truly diverse group of children.

You’ve got the right stuff, (Baby) steps

The theatre camp model soon spread to other sites in the city. Mark still oversaw the program from Eastern University, but allowed programming to be delegated to some of the young talent in the team. Camps were happening every summer with the Eastern University Summer Theatre Camp still being the home base. They were able to witness the power of their program as each year it became more of a positive influence in children’s lives. Eventually though, the program outgrew it’s humble beginnings at Eastern University and became (although still affiliated with Eastern University Theatre) fully a city-based program.

Yes! And… is born!

Summer Theatre Camp was a great program, but to serve more kids and continue to grow, they needed to grow themselves. Yes! And… was started as a way to bring arts education year-round to kids in Philadelphia neighborhoods. Yes! And…, under the umbrella of Resources for Human Development, began an after school literacy program with Public/Private Ventures. Summer camps continued to happen as well as studio classes and partnerships with Lyric Fest, UrbanPromise, Eastern University and more.

Continuing to serve kids

In an effort to follow up with kids year to year, Yes! And… began a program designed to teach higher level artistic skills and at the same time give valuable job experience to the teens who were growing out of the middle school programs they offered. The program was called SHADOW (as it was meant to operate while other Yes! And… programs were being run). SHADOW grew into its own company of actors, with the teens themselves contributing to and helping organize the different activities. They have performed in the annual Philadelphia Fringe Festival and make original theatre pieces several times a year.

Another program that grew out of a desire to continue to reach kids as well as give the artistic staff an opportunity to be creative was the Winter Sort of Thing. Combining kids, teens and adult artists from across their programming and teaming up once again with Eastern University Theatre, the Winter Sort of Thing is a unique new musical experience. Participants in the program help to build a new musical from the ground up and audiences each year get taken on a fantastic ride of the imagination.

EAPE Ministry – We Plant, You Water, God Makes it Grow!

God is not only accomplishing great work through EAPE. God is also using EAPE to spin off ministries and is using those ministries to accomplish further great work. This is why we see ourselves as a “Mustard Seed Conspiracy,” where, with your  contributions, our small efforts grow into something truly greater than we could have imagined. Let me share two examples.

First, EAPE provided both the vision and the funding to start a unique graduate  program at Eastern University. The program trains students to spiritually nurture small groups of poor people in developing countries and in urban America. People for the first time believe in themselves enough to become entrepreneurs. They develop the skills to start their own small businesses and cottage industries. Hundreds of our graduates have been carrying out that vision, and Eastern’s President, Dr. David Black, estimates that they have helped create as many as 250,000 jobs for needy people around the world. With some seed money and fundraising support from EAPE, one of these graduates, Brian Lehnen, co-founded the Village Enterprise Fund; a ministry that provides microloans to entrepreneurs in East Africa. He brought on board to work with him Jessica Jackley, who later developed a plan to enable those who want to help small business entrepreneurs to access startup capital to do so with contributions as small as $25.00. To date Jessica has raised and lent out over 300 million dollars (you read right!).

This is just one of the enormous “ripple effects” that are possible when you invest in EAPE’s network of innovative and visionary leaders. To paraphrase Paul, “We planted, your contributions watered, but God gave the growth.” (1 Corinthians 3:6)

Wendy Ryan, another of my students from Eastern University, served for years as a journalist for the Baptist World Alliance, reporting on Baptist missionary work around the world. When nearing retirement, Wendy left her secure employment and made a commitment to become a missionary herself. She has since gone to South Africa where she started Evangeline Ministries. She trains needy African women how to use sewing machines to produce and sell clothing and pocket books. What these women produce is sold, providing them and Evangeline Ministries with income. Over the past few years this program has doubled in size and many of the women have become committed Christians. In addition, she has helped many of her students to set up their own tailoring businesses and has created jobs for still more South African women.

EAPE must do more to help pioneers and missionaries like Brian and Wendy, but we can’t do that without your help. So get behind EAPE with your generous giving and together we can support other innovative and visionary leaders who can serve Christ so effectively.

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