Summary: We must return to the Biblical way of training faithful leaders. God’s word reveals a very different plan than what we typically see today.
Training Faithful Leaders
2 Timothy 2:1 You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
2 And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.
3 Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
What is the very best way to train up elders, deacons, teachers, preachers of the Gospel, and faithful fruitful members of Christ’s body, the Church? Today we have Christian colleges and preacher training schools that dot the maps of America from east to west. But when we go to the Bible to see how God built church leadership we discover how the original preacher, elder, member training was done.
There are three key books in the New Testament that we look to for specifics about elders and deacons. Those three books are found right together in your Bible. 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus. These are three letters to two preachers in the first century. Just imagine! God has given us in his word unique insight into the training camp of the early church.
At the time these letters were written the churches of Christ were brand new. Jesus had commissioned his apostles to go preach the gospel to every creature. They were to make disciples of all nations. And they did! These churches didn’t have nice mountain stone buildings or comfortable pews and classrooms. They didn’t have leather covered Bibles with the 66 books. They were blessed if they had a copy of the Old Testament among them. We sometimes like to envision every church in the New Testament period with a Holy Spirit gifted and inspired leadership telling them exactly what God wanted for them to believe and practice, but the picture we get from Paul’s letters, and other New Testament books is one of churches facing false teachers and struggling to understand and apply the gospel faithfully. Men like Hymenaus and Alexander were everywhere saying things about Paul that were not true and spreading false ideas and teachings that sounded good to a people without a New Testament to check it out and see. It was in that environment that the pages of the New Testament were written. Warnings, instructions, and encouragements fill the pages of your New Testament. The need for trained godly leaders was just as great for them as it ever has been. And training up faithful men who would in turn teach others is part of what these Timothy and Titus letters are all about. These are apprentice letters, leadership-training letters. While there is something for everyone in Timothy and Titus, their main focus is on training, instructing, and building up faithful leadership in the church.
May God bless his church with leadership that is faithful and fruitful and that continues to train up godly men for the work of leading his people. And may he bless his church with faithful and fruitful godly women who have as great an influence as any human being on the future elders, deacons, preachers and teachers within the church. It was two women that reared Timothy to be the man of faith that served with Paul.
Let me just put in a plug at this time for lads to leaders. All who have participated in this program in your youth, please stand up. Franklin, come up here. How old were you when you began in Lads to leaders? How many years has that been?
Parents, if you have children that are old enough to talk, let me encourage you to get them involved in this leadership development work. This will give them a chance to confess their faith in a friendly environment where they will be encouraged to grow and develop their skills and talents for the Lord. As Christian parents we want the very best for our children, don’t we? How many parents here sacrifice long hours at sporting events or academic or physical developmental activities with your children? Why do you do this? It is understandable that parents would work hard to encourage and involve their kids in sporting events hoping that they might make it to college with a scholarship or something. But how much more do we need to involve them in Christian training and development for their spiritual eternal scholarship? Kids in some sports programs spend hours every day after school in practice so that they can play well in a game. Let me say that again. So they can PLAY well in a GAME. The key words here are: PLAY and GAME. How much more should we spend time practicing so that we can serve well in the Kingdom of God. Jesus said, “Seek ye first the…..” (Matt 6:33). The Bible says in