Tuesday: Training Trainers

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?

Image © Providence Collection from GoodSalt.com

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.



Tuesday: Training Trainers — 7 Comments

  1. I have said it before and I will say it again. In my opinion our pastors are not being trained to be trainers. The whole training process has to start somewhere and pastors who are supposed to be the spiritual head of the church are a natural starting point.

    It seems to me that in both the world and church educational systems we often train in knowledge rather than in some of the more practical things and often miss the whole reason for the training in the first place. A doctor is trained in how to deal with deceases but most doctors end up in private practice that involves having their own business yet they receive little or no training in that area. The requirements for college professors involve knowledge and skills in a profession and are often required to carry on research but when they get into an academic environment the main thing they do is teach, a skill for which they have received little or no training. So it is with ministerial students. They are trained with the idea of entering into post graduate programs and many of those studies involve more knowledge in biblical studies, history, biblical languages or in the associated areas of counseling, health, etc. They are not being training to be trainers.

    Perhaps one of the reasons is that, at least in North America, the church is in the maintenance phase of its life cycle. Therefore a lot of pastors see their job more as an administrative head that is able to put out social fires and maintain the doctrinal position of the church.

    Even though I believe we are climbing out of the idea that pastors are the only ones that actively do evangelism they still do not seem to know how to train the people in their congregations to do that very important job. If they were then we would have a whole army of well trained volunteers doing what the pastor up to this point has been trying to do himself. We have been putting too much burden on the pastor to do everything and he/she in many cases have not felt that they have the ability to do the necessary training of their people that would spread out the responsibility and more efficiently execute our commission to make disciples.

  2. Thank you brother Tyler for that beautiful comment, I wish pastors will read this. There will be a big change in our churches if they apply what you have mentioned. that’s why am yearning to start my Theology class here in the University of Eastern Africa Baraton, Kenya, immediately I finish my first degree that am undertaking. Thanks and God bless you for that insight.

  3. In all fairness to our pastors Tyler, don't you think that we have a lack of parishioner interest also? I do believe our pastors are capable of stepping up to the plate when the interest is there. I had a pastor out in Florida when I lived there several years ago that did such. If some need training or retraining the conference men and women are more than willing to hold training seminars. I do believe that many conferences currently do this. To garner interest we could go to a 'Say Yes to Jesus' program again. This program is where you get a group of members to read 'Steps to Christ' through, and then get them up front, award them with a button to wear that reads 'Say Yes to Jesus' and give them a certificate of acknowledgment that they read or reread 'Steps to Christ'.
    God bless

    • Yes, John I do think we have a lack of parishioner interest but just as Albert Einstein failed a Calculus class it may not be entirely their fault. And yes again, there are pastors out there that can and do train the members of their churches and there are efforts to do training by some conferences and other organizations but it is not pervasive.

      Furthermore, I never used the word "all" in my comment when it came to pastors besides, my remarks were not directed at them but at those that train them. My point was simply that we are not training our pastors in college and seminary for the job of being trainers. That is a point that I will stand behind.

      As for the book "Steps to Christ." it is a fantastic book and from what I understand was originally designed to teach church members how a person is saved. Perhaps it really is effective to publically pin a button on a person in recognition that they have read the book but I doubt it is as effective as we would like to think. It all depends on how involved they get with that book and how dedicated they are in using it to guide their evangelistic efforts.

      To me noting is as effective as proper on the job training. That is what Jesus did with His disciples and that is what Paul did with Timothy and Barnabas did with John Mark. Those trainers took the trainees out and showed them how to do it then they got them involved in the work and let the trainees do some of it with plenty of backup and guidance. After a while they were able to go on their own to turn the world upside down. They didn't just give them a lot of theory then kick them out the door on their own - the training was personal and a lot closer than that.

  4. Trainers; grace is strength, timothy was told to be a witness to the plan of redemption knowing that the effective spiritual training comes from above. "While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer and day and night shall not cease"(Gen 8:22). Ask heaven to impute upon us the gifts from above making our lives fishers of men for Jesus, to radiate the training of the word, sowing the seed of power on earth, which was manifested in Christ that the fruit of His loins may be seen by His faithful servants. Thus, training leaders and lay people that all may be efficient trainers and trainees rightfully nurturing the call to the gospel.

  5. Bro. Cluthe, you are so correct in your assessment. As I travel throughout our denomination conducting Sabbath School workshops I see firsthand a great need for training the trainers. We can’t keep doing the same things year in and year out and expect anything different. I’m praying for the day when training (real, effectual, practical, relevant, usable) is not seen as an optional part of what we do, but instead as vital to our growth and the success of our Gospel commission.


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