We live in a world where people are highly mobile. Local churches seem to regularly process transfers out and transfers in and often lament the loss of capable members who have been involved in significant ministries. Because of this potential transfer of skills and because the local church’s evangelism and witnessing ministry should continue expanding, there is a great need to multiply these ministries.
What principles concerning the training of trainers can we glean from Paul’s instructions to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:1–7? How should all these words apply to us today in our work for the Lord, in whatever capacity we find ourselves?
Paul communicates to Timothy the importance of seeing the big picture of the church’s work, both regarding extent and duration. The pastoral and teaching ministries are not to be centered in just one man. They are to be the work of a multiplied number of witnesses and evangelists in the church. Primarily, Paul is telling Timothy to train up others for leadership in the church because, eventually, the older generation of leaders will have passed on. Inherent in this instruction to Timothy is that those he instructs will also, in turn, teach others, thereby assuring that the church’s mission in the world will be continuous and expansive. This process is in harmony with Jesus’ call for more laborers for the harvest.
It has been said: “Give a man a fish, and you will feed him for a day; teach him how to fish, and you will feed him and his family for as long as he lives.” The problem is that if the man does not pass his fishing skill on to his children, then the next generation will go hungry. Perhaps the saying should be modified to say, “Give a man a fish, and you will feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and to pass on his knowledge and techniques, and untold numbers of people will continue to be fed.” This is the difference between training someone and training them to be trainers.
Think through your experience in our church. Has anyone ever taught you how to witness to others? Have you ever asked to be trained how to witness to others? Discuss your answer in class on Sabbath.