Tomorrow's Shepherds Today - Competency Part II
Training and development in the truth must first begin with learning about the origin and authority of Scripture. A quarter class of “How We Got the Bible” would be a good place to start. A class on Hermeneutics (Biblical Interpretation) would also be needed. Second, there should be training in the area of core biblical doctrines concerning the church of the New Testament. Some of those would include its structure, its worship, the Lord’s Supper, and salvation. Third, there should be learning in the area of absolute truth, and the lack thereof in our world today. A study on the postmodern mindset which permeates all facets of society. Such a mindset also impacts the truth and doctrine of the church. Leaders must recognize and understand how it influences our beliefs and practices.
Once this knowledge of truth is acquired (and continually acquired), the shepherd is expected to be able teach others. This is one of the biggest strengths of Central North. Unlike many churches in the United States, out of necessity from not having a full-time preacher, many of the men are involved in the teaching and preaching. Not only is it admirable that there are so many willing to step up and teach, but they are also interested in exploring ways to improve their teaching and preaching abilities. The young men are already encouraged to get involved in the teaching of the congregation. For the specific development of these twelve young men however, the older men can lead the way in the area of training in teaching. Classes could be taught on Exegesis, Homiletics, Adult Teaching, and more. Over the three-year period, two books per year could be read on teaching and preaching. Lastly, having those who have not taught to teach regularly. This could be in one of the young adult fellowships, Sunday night study, Men’s Bible class, Congregational class, or eventually the worship sermon.
Finally, the third area of competency is courage and protecting the flock. Because there are so many teachings, beliefs, and practices contrary to Scripture, and there are many with in the world selfish motives, the church needs leaders who will shepherd and keep God’s sheep safe from such harm. Being competent in the first two areas link directly to competency in the third. Knowing the truth and being able to teach it, will better prepare the leader for any potential dangers. However, one must also possess courage to stand up for a contend for the faith (Jude 3). Paul encourage Timothy to be courageous saying, “For God has not given us a Spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). It takes courage to lead people, especially when we live in a world that is pulling from every direction to steal God’s people. “Leaders who possess courage have a trait that can permeate and transform everything they do. Courage is often the critical seasoning in the ‘leadership stew.’ Without it, no one even wants to taste the stew; even victory can taste bland, with it, every undertaking is an adventure, something to be savored by all whether it succeeds or fails (but with courage, the likelihood of success increases greatly)” (Woolfe 154-155).
Perhaps the most well-known passage in the Bible on courage comes from when God told the new leader Joshua prior to entering the Promised Land, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them” (Joshua 1:7). Just as Joshua needed courage to lead people into the Promised Land, so too does the shepherd need the same courage to lead people into the eternal Promised Land. God told Joshua to have courage, but also to stick to His word completely. If he did those two things, then and only then, would he be successful into delivering God’s people. The same is true for the leader of the church today. Hence, the knowledge of the truth and being able to teach it. One way to develop courage and prepare for the “wolves” is to not only gain the knowledge of the truth as we already mentioned, but to also gain knowledge of the false teaching in the world. Having a class on the different teachings from the predominant religions and denominations will build the needed foundation to ward off any incursions that may arise. Mock debates could be staged between the youth, with one defending the truth of Scripture and the other presenting the anti-Scripture position. Opposition will come, from without and within. Courage is vital. “Adversity is a great test of courage. Those with little courage fold in the face of adversity, those with great courage only find their courage magnified when confronted with difficulties… The heroes of the Bible were created by the courageous choices they were often forced to make. Noah and the flood. Jonah and the what. Moses and the Red Sea. Queen Esther and Haman. Jesus and Pilate. In each case a great leader became even greater when he or she encountered a difficult obstacle. Anyone can lead in good times. It takes courage to lead in difficult times” (Woolfe 168-169).
Difficult times will arise in the church. Whether it comes from without or within, they will come. One way to build courage is to get involved in evangelism. Peter and John prayed for boldness and courage to speak the word of God (Acts 4:29). It takes courage to take the gospel into the world. Courage for the young men could be developed through prayer and active evangelism.