Introduction. (Romans 10:11-15). This text shows us the importance of teaching the Gospel, and it does so posing four questions:
• “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?”
Obviously if salvation comes to those who call on Jesus—one cannot “call on Him” without first coming to believe in Him. It then follows…
• “How shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?”
In the same way, a person is not going to just start believing in Jesus if they never hear about him. That leads to the question…
• “How shall they hear without a preacher?”
This may not be using the term “preacher” in the sense of a full-time evangelist, but simply one who teaches the message of the good news of the gospel. How will anyone hear the message unless someone tells them the message. So the next question is…
• “How shall they preach unless they are sent?”
There was a special Divine commission to preach that many in the New Testament received. That doesn’t happen today. We are then called on to ask the question…
How are they sent? This, for us, must refer to some human initiative which encourages the teaching of the Gospel, the sending out of preachers, and by necessary inference—equipping them in such a way that they can teach so that souls can hear—believe—and thus “call on” Jesus unto salvation. How is this done? What does the Scripture tell us?
I. Preacher Training: The Scriptural Pattern
A. The Organization of the Church (Ephesians 5:23; Philippians 1:1). The New Testament a very clear organization of the Lord’ church. Christ is the head. Local churches are led by elders and deacons. There is no organization or roles of leadership lower than the headship of Christ and higher than the eldership of local congregation. All such innovations that exist in the religious world are unauthorized, unscriptural additions of men.
B. Congregational Autonomy (Acts 20:17,28). The leadership of local congregations is “self-governing.” Under the headship of Christ, no church has the right to dictate the affairs of any other church. No eldership has oversight over any other church or eldership—the Holy Spirit (through the qualifications in Scripture) has appointed over and “among” local flocks.
C. The Work of the Church (Ephesians 4:11-12). It is the work of the church to teach the Gospel. It is the work of the church to “equip the saints for the work of ministry.” That does not suggest that teaching cannot be done by individuals (or groups) outside of their capacity as a church—but the church does not rely upon institutions of men to do this work (i.e. the Lord’s Church has no seminaries that funnel preachers into its congregations). Note: If we really believe this—then we must consider how the church can carry out its role to train and equip men to teach and preach the gospel. Listen to how Paul told Timothy to do this…
D. Preachers Training Preachers (II Timothy 2:1-2). Note: What Timothy learned from Paul he was to teach others—who in turn could teach others after them. This is not some system of “Apostolic Succession” as our denominational friends teach. It was simply the way that preachers were to be prepared—preachers teaching preachers.
II. Preacher Training: Our Plan to Train Preachers. The elders here have been considering since I first began to work with this congregation, how we could fulfill this charge. From the first days that I began to work with the brethren here they asked me about my willingness to assist in this effort. While I expressed to them my uncertainty about my own qualifications to do so (as one who, in my own mind at least is still a young preacher), I expressed a willingness to do what I could.
We talked with some brethren about how they had approached this in their own work and talked among ourselves about how this could (and should) be approached. The elders asked me to put down a proposal of how we could do this. After I submitted to them a proposed plan, they (with only a very few changes) decided they would like to put it to work. Here is what (Lord willing) we plan to do…
A. A Two Year Program.
* During this period we will work to prepare a man to preach full-time.
* At the end of this period the man will be expected to find a work.
B. Year One: Emphasis on Study. When a man first begins to preach there area number of things about the work of an evangelist that have to be learned—things about the work itself, working with a congregation, doctrines, scriptural issues, etc. We have designed this program with a deliberate shift in emphasis from the first year as the trainee moves into the second year. We can see this in the responsibilities that the man will have.
* Assigned Study: Preacher, Elders & Deacon. There will be assigned studies for which the man will be responsible. We will sit and study together through these things. (A unique aspect of this program is a monthly class with one of the elders, and one of the deacons. This class will be lead by the elders and deacon themselves but will probably emphasize congregational issues.)
* Write (1 Sermon every week). I will go over these and we will sit down and discuss the sermon.
* Bulletin article (every other week).
* Teach children’s class. As a preacher one has to deal with people of all ages and levels of Scriptural knowledge. One of the best ways to prepare for this is to train oneself in teaching children.
* Preach (1 Sermon every other week). The first year we are not going to overwhelm him with a great deal of pulpit work—there are other things he needs to do first.
C. Year Two: Emphasis on Teaching
* Less Assigned Study: Preacher, Elders (no deacons class—he will be looking for a preaching work).
* Write (1 Sermon every week).
* Bulletin article (every other week).
* Teach adult classes. (Wednesday 2 trimesters; Sunday 1 trimester).
* Preach (1 Sermon every week).
D. Theme: I Timothy 4:12. A powerful verse which Paul directed at Timothy, the young man he taught to be an evangelist is this passage. I have used this as a type of outline for the areas of study we will consider during this program.
* 1st Quarter: Example in Word.
* 2nd Quarter: Example in Conduct.
* 3rd Quarter: Example in Love.
* 4th Quarter: Example in Spirit.
* 5th Quarter: Example in Faith.
* 6th Quarter: Example in Purity.
Conclusion. This is “new territory” for us here at Olsen Park but it is a good work and a noble effort. What the church will be tomorrow rests on what we are able to teach young Christians today. I thank the elders for this opportunity to engage in this effort to “expand the kingdom” by preparing men to be sent out to preach and teach the Gospel.