In the summer of 2008, Angela and I were blessed to be able to go on a short term missions trip to England. We visited a missionary located in central England who was trying to find men to come pastor churches in the same region. England was going through a very bizarre situation in regards to Christianity. The country had churches, not a lot, but some. However, these churches did not have pastors leading them. In fact, over 200 churches at that time, regularly met and carried on as a normal church, just without any pastor. A bizarre situation indeed. The problem only compounded as many traveling ‘preachers’ went from church to church teaching for one week and then moving on to do the same somewhere else the next week. These speakers were booked months in advance, and none of them interested in staying at one of these churches and pastoring it.
What were the causes of this lack of pastoral leadership? Some think it was due to the embracing of liberal Christianity as a whole, in England. Many cardinal doctrines of the faith are rejected or just not taught anymore. Some think it is the heavy immigration and influence of Muslims into the country. While we can guess at what the causes are, we do not have to guess on what the Bible says to do to prevent this situation since it is covered clearly in the book of 2 Timothy.
In 2 Timothy 2:2, the apostle Paul says this, “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” This is the antidote for the problem of pastorless churches and it was written before the problem even existed! Paul is instructing Timothy, who was taught along with many others, to pass on what he learned to other men who would be able to teach.
The first thing Timothy needs to do is find ‘faithful men.’ He is not talking about faithfulness to their wives (but that is still required). He is speaking of men who are trustworthy, men who are already serving, men who seem to be headed on the path toward spiritual leadership anyway. Men who will take what they are taught and use it appropriately by teaching others.
The second thing Timothy is supposed to do when he finds these faithful men is to entrust these men with the things he has learned. Clearly, Paul is talking about theology, the character of God, the Word of God, etc. It is probably assumed that this would take a long time, but once Timothy has found the faithful men, he must begin teaching them.
Paul even lays out the purpose and the goal of this instruction: so they “will be able to teach others also.” There is a domino effect and a multi-generational effect here. Timothy teaches men, who teach men, who then teach other men, and down the line it goes. There really is no excuse for a church or churches to be left without any pastor. Part of the pastor’s job is to be committed to this responsibility. It’s not just about preaching and leading, it’s about passing on what he has learned to other men who can pass it along to other men too. This is how we accomplish real leadership development in the church.
Pastor Mark Scialabba