In Matthew 9:37 Jesus told the disciples that the harvest was plentiful but the laborers few. Today the harvest is infinitely larger and the laborers are still relatively few. There is a great need to send out harvest workers who are thoroughly trained and equipped. While it ever remains true that the Holy Spirit’s influence is the major factor in the success of witnessing and evangelism, it is still important that those whom God calls to service be trained through formal instruction, observation, and participation. According to Ephesians 4:11-12, there should be a definite endeavour to equip people for the many and varied aspects of ministry and service.
God has promised to bless leaders with certain gifts that will help them function as leaders and trainers for ministry. We can’t stress enough, however, that evangelists, pastors, and teachers are not following scriptural guidelines if they are doing all the work themselves and are not equipping others for service. Everyone who is training for witnessing and evangelism work must be brought to the strong conviction that it is indeed God’s will that the world be saved from sin, that the God-given work of the church is to reach out to a lost world, and that it is God’s will that His church in the world will grow.
Read Matthew 4:19 and Mark 1:17 in the context of Matthew 28:19. What significance do you see in the fact that the first recorded command of Jesus was “ ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men’ ”? What should those words mean to us today as Seventh-day Adventists with our understanding of the three angels’ messages? How much “fishing for men” are we really doing as opposed to just “tending to our own boats”?
It is significant that Jesus did not simply call the disciples to be fishers of men. He did not say “Follow Me, and be fishers of men.” He said, “ ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ ” Right at the beginning of their formal association with Jesus these men understood that they were embarking upon important training. Jesus called them into a learning environment where they would be trained for the task to which He had called them. The disciples would learn much through watching and doing. Only when they had learned, on the local scene, what to do and how to do it would Jesus issue to them a worldwide commission. Without the appropriate training, instruction, and personal spiritual development of workers, the task of taking the gospel to our neighborhoods would seem impossible.