This is bigger than you. There’s no need to be a bottleneck, decelerating the growth of God’s work in your community.
We’ve explored at length how to study the Bible and how to lead a Bible study. My compadre Ryan has reflected on how to be a helpful small group member. It’s time for the next step. With this post, I launch a new series on how to train a new Bible study leader. Why should we do this?
1. So your ministry will multiply
You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (2 Timothy 2:1-2)
When grace strengthens you, you might feel about to explode. You’ve got to share it. And one of the best way to share grace is to entrust it to another person who will be able to teach others also. Now there’s not just one teacher, but two. Not just one Bible study, but two. If you do it well, two eventually becomes four. And four becomes eight.
If you train another leader, you’ll end up reaching far more people than you could ever reach on your own.
2. So others can surpass you in effectiveness
When Paul was in Corinth, he met and trained a man named Aquila and his wife Priscilla. They moved on to Ephesus together, and Paul left them there when he set sail for his home in Antioch.
Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord…though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him and explained to him the way of God more accurately…When he arrived [at Corinth], he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus. (Acts 18:24-28)
Paul trains Aquila & Priscilla, who eventually return to Rome to lead a house church (Rom 16:3-5). Priscilla & Aquila train Apollos, who rivals Paul for influence in Corinth (1 Cor 1:12). And the point is not that Apollos sought to compete with Paul, but that Apollos acquired an exceptional effectiveness for the Lord Jesus.
We love to be loved, and we often need to be needed. But how much better it is for Christ’s kingdom when we’re willing to get out of the way so others can carry on the work! This means we must not put ourselves at the center of the ministry. We make poor high priests for those we serve. And we can actively train others to succeed in ways we ourselves have not. If it’s not finally about us, the success of others is a real delight to witness.
3. So the word of God may not be reviled
Older women…are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. (Titus 2:3-5)
Ministry training is not just for church officers, nor even for men. Women must also train and be trained. And lest you think the content of this training limited to homemaking activities and genteel feminine ethics, remember that a woman cannot love her husband without also speaking truth to him (Eph 4:13-16, Prov 31:26). Nor can she love her children without teaching them to read and study God’s word for themselves (Prov 1:8, 2 Tim 1:5, 3:14).
If women (and men, of course) don’t learn to study the Bible, or to train others in how to study the Bible, then we don’t really believe these Scriptures are useful for teaching, reproof, correction, or training in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16). And then why would we trust these Scriptures to reveal the good news about Jesus, which is the power of God for salvation (Rom 1:16)? And if we don’t functionally believe these things (as demonstrated by our failure to teach and train others), then the world should consider us hypocrites, and they’ll deem these Scriptures not to actually be the word of God.
Let’s prove the lie of such reviling by drawing this sword and unleashing its power, training others to wield it with expert care.
4. So you don’t wear out yourself and your people
Moses had two million people to shepherd. He had been appointed to this task by none other than God himself. Remember the burning bush thing? And yet…
What you are doing is not good. You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone. (Exodus 18:17-18)
Sometimes fathers-in-law know how to hit that nail’s head. Training a new leader takes time and effort. It slows us down in the short term. But a long-term perspective reminds us that it’s worth it.
I heard someone say that in one year we’ll never accomplish what we hope, but in five years we can accomplish more than we expect. I’ve seen the truth of this statement in the lives of trainees.