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Monday, April 04, 2011

Call to Preach and Teach...but You have to Wait...A Long Time

Yesterday I heard a message from a young man who has been in youth ministry for 16 years and heard him preach in the church I attend (I believe it was his first time). He was simple but I could sense he was speaking full of the Holy Spirit. He wasn't fancy, nor deep, but spoke clearly, applying the Word of God. Ironically he was teaching on a passage where Jesus sends the twelve to preach the Good News of the Kingdom and to heal. The disciples had been with Jesus in training less than a year (their total training was about 1.5 years). Yet Jesus released them to do the work He trained to do. After the service I started thinking why The Church doesn't follow Christ's example. Why does The Church make it so long and complicated to acknowledge those that desire to serve God in preaching and teaching.  Many churches require extensive training, such as seminary training, and years of practice before releasing them. Many churches "hire" people with the "right" qualifications. Many of these young men and even the apostles would never qualify (the Apostles were common folks with very little formal education).  See Twelve Ordinary Men by John MacArthur and The Training of the Twelve by A.B. Bruce

I have nothing against formal theological training. I believe that due to the nature of our times, those entering the ministry must possess some level of training but I don't think this is mandatory. There have been plenty of great men of God without formal training. Just to name one, A.W. Tozer who influenced so many for the Kingdom and is still read by so many. His books The Knowledge of the Holy and The Pursuit of God are still best-sellers. I also believe that discipleship (and not defined by going through some curriculum) and mentoring is necessary for anyone entering the ministry.

When I became a Christian at the age of 13, I was on fire. I read the Scriptures, read books, listened to the best preachers on the radio and began to be mentored by my youth pastor. By 15 I was already teaching and at times preaching to the church. Our youth pastor had a lot to do with this. He believed young people should serve God (he was also called to preach at a young age). This was not without opposition. One pastor rejected me being an elder of the church at age of twenty one. I was not of age according to this man even though I had already gone through seminary by extension and had a proven record of serving God in the church. After our church split, we decided to move to Arizona to pursue my education in Biblical Studies. My desire was to come back to the church I had left (the result of the split) to pastor. I came back but I was also rejected. Again, many saw me as inexperienced or not old enough (Now some say I'm too old).

As I am writing this I am listening to a message titled, "The Man God Uses" at a church I am helping with the youth. The first qualification mentioned was obedience. The man God uses must be obedient. I agree.  Aside, from the desire to serve, this is probably the indispensable quality (and of course the ones outlined in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1) God can take any man who is obedient and transform him into a man that is useful for his Kingdom.  Missionaries overseas have done a better job in training and preparing men for the ministry. They understand the nature of discipleship, mentoring and preparing ministers of the Gospel.  The Church in America needs to wake up and follow the model Christ left us in the New Testament even if it means not learning Greek or Hebrew or taking 90 units to complete an M.Div. We need to find qualified men, disciple, mentor and release them to do the ministry for which they have been called.
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