Since I came to Bearwood Chapel 7 years ago, I’ve committed about one day a week to training others. This has included
-Working with OM teams offering mentoring and on the job training as they’ve learnt about how to do evangelism in an urban setting as well as leading seminars and Bible studies
-Mentoring a Ministry Trainee as he prepared for next steps via Theological College
– Running Faithroots Live sessions for interested parties and particularly giving time to support a church planter who is working with us.
From September, I will be giving one day each week to mentoring our Union Learning Community.
Why do I think it is important to set time aside for training others for Gospel ministry? It does require discipline to carve time out in my diary. However, I strongly believe that it is worth it. Why?
- Part of our responsibility when making disciples is to train and equip other Bible teachers/leaders
Paul tells Timothy:
“You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.” (2 Timothy 2:2).
It is not simply a case of running your part of the race and then handing the baton on to the next person. Paul’s model for ministry is to see gifts and workers multiplied as we go along. The sense is that this priority should be built into Timothy’s ministry right from the start, just as it was into Paul’s (something I learnt from Chris Green.)
This was one of the reasons why I spent an additional year at Oak Hill studying for an MTh so that I would be better equipped not just to pastor, teach and evangelise but to train and equip others.
If Paul offers a Biblical imperative and example of this, I’ve seen two up to date examples and motivations of this. Firstly during my time at Rochester Baptist Church, I saw that Wesley Aiken was passionate about training and equipping others, constantly giving time to this. Secondly at Oak Hill we saw Mike Ovey’s passion that knowledge isn’t something we hold onto for ourselves but is to be shared for others and his desire for those he taught.
“We want you to be better than us, we want you to be more faithful than us – we want you, spiritually speaking, to tower above us so that the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ stands high in this land and that men and women may know the blessings of eternal life. That is our dream for you, that is our prayer for you, not that you are as we are, but that you are better.”
That should be the desire that every generation of church leaders has for the next. We should not live in fear of others outgrowing us in their gifting. It should be our joy.
- Freely we have received – we should freely give
I have been blessed by the encouragement, support and teaching of others in so many ways. This includes those who took time to lecture, tutor and mentor me in church life and at theological college. It also includes those who prayed for us and financially supported us through training including individuals as well as our sending church. It is right that I, individually and we as a church in Bearwood seek to pass that on.
- Our call is for the spread of the Gospel and the extension of Christ’s Kingdom -not the building up of our own ministries
We are hoping that at least one and maybe some of those who join our Learning Community will choose to locate with us and join with our mission in the Sandwell area. We are also praying that some will choose to stay on to help pastor Bearwood Chapel and/or to go and plant other churches locally in partnership with us.
But we also know that most of those who study with us will be linked to and continue to serve with other local churches. We also know that even those who train full time with us will be quite likely to go on to other places, we’ve seen OMers go on to other mission fields such as Nepal, Logos Hope etc or to return to serve in their home churches. We were privileged to have Hannes with us for a number of years but this weekend we say goodbye as he goes on to serve in Austria. But this is not a negative because we are playing a part in the wider mission field. We are part of Christ’s one church which stretches around the globe.
- Training is the Responsibility of local churches because the local church is the institution that Christ ordained
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the role that mission agencies play in supporting people as they mobilise for cross cultural work. I love what our Theological Colleges do. However, we should not see these agencies as having primary responsibility for mission or training. We cannot sub-contract things out to them. The Bible institutes local churches to facilitate disciple making. Therefore, responsibility lies with the local church. Yes, we will sometimes send people to study at a Theological College or work with that college to bring resources into the local church context but that should be about partnership where we continue to take responsibility for what happens not where we hand someone over to the college tutors and say “it’s your job now.” This is one of the reasons why we are partnering with Union because we appreciate that they get that.
- We are blessed as we give
Whenever we have given time and other resources to training others, we have found that we have been blessed. We’ve had the privilege of building friendships and partnerships. I’ve also found that I’ve learnt so much myself, not just from taking time to look at God’s word and aspects of Theology again but I’ve had the privilege of learning from those who I’ve been teaching as they’ve shared insights that I would have missed.
Playing your part
I hope that this article has encouraged you to take ministry training in the local church context seriously. It may have encouraged you to think about what you could do in your context. Please do seek out opportunities for training in the local church.
It may be that you are considering some form of ministry training and would like to find out more about our Union Learning Community. If so, please get in touch via our contact page.
Please also check out our ActBC page to see how you could partner with us as we seek to equip people for Gospel ministry in an urban context.