Training Elders

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It still feels like the morning after the week before. A first IPC conference with Carl Trueman on Doctrine, Luther and Warfield. The little fella was at his best, raging against the machine of parachurch and constant swipes at his gracious and kind host. Various hostelries were visited during the week and the boy did well. He preached for me on Sunday morning - Mother's Day - Judges 19 - gang rape, murder and dismemberment. Vintage Trueman.

Having spent the last week with lots of our elders, I've become more and more convinced that a church is only as strong as its eldership.

In the UK we've put huge effort into training up a generation of workers. Rightly, 20-somethings are being challenged with things such as apprenticeships in church life. Congregations have ramped up opportunities for training amongst the young and eager crowd. This has obvious benefits: the zeal and zest for learning are an enormous blessing for church life plus, apart from student debt, they've not got any responsibilities and so can give a year or two to working for the church.

2 Timothy 2:2 is often trotted out but it's a slight misuse of that verse:

'and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.'

First of all, Paul tells Timothy we should hand this message over to men. I see that the NIV2011 translates this as reliable people, but that is not Paul's intention, he is speaking directly to Timothy regarding the future of the church, the whole subject of the pastorals is the leadership of the church, what will happen in the generations after the apostles are gone. Context has to be king and the NIV2011 lets us down here. Although the word itself can be translated generically, the context obviously means men when you think of the nature of the letter Paul is writing.

Secondly the kind of men to look for are to be faithful men. The tried and trusted. Surely that doesn't mean spotty students that show a measure of potential. By all means seek to train them, but Paul isn't talking about that in 2 Timothy 2:2.

Thirdly, these men will be able to teach others and so you have to ask the question what do they teach? It's the 'what you have heard from me' 2 Timothy 2:1. Another way of putting it would be 'the pattern of sound words' 2 Tim 1:13 or 'the standard of teaching' Romans 6:17

Elders are essential to the health of the church and so the training and strengthening of elders is fundamental. We cannot short-change biblical church government. We place our churches in danger by appointing elders who shouldn't be elders and by not giving time to developing strong and mature men.
Posted March 12, 2013 @ 11:18 AM by Paul Levy
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