2 Timothy 2:2, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”
The church’s job concerning the gospel is to first connect sinners to the cross of Jesus, second, to train disciples to carry their cross and third, send out disciples to preach the power of the cross to the lost!
Every good church should have elders and deacons who oversee the process of connecting, mentoring and sending out disciples to make new disciples.
Luke recorded in Acts 14:23, “Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.” These new elders were to lead the church in making disciples that would make new disciples. Paul commanded Timothy in 1 Timothy 3:10 to appoint deacons to serve with the elders, “They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.” Thus, deacons are considered the assistants or the helpers to the elders.
Though the deacons are under the authority of the elders, both elders and deacons are to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 6:3), empowered with the nine spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:7) and active in one or more of the five ministerial gifts (Ephesians 4:11). We can see the effectiveness of the first deacons preaching in the lives of Stephen and Philip in Acts 7-8.
In today’s passage we learn that Paul (an apostolic elder) relied upon Timothy (a pastoral elder) to take what He said and pass it down to the governing elders and the deacons; and then to all the disciples. Timothy was an elder that was pastoring the churches in Ephesus with the help of the governing elders and deacons. When he taught the disciples what God had revealed to Paul he not only was doing his part, but he also expecting those listening to do their part and pass it down to those around them. This was the way thousands of disciples could all receive the same message before technology, by word of mouth.
Some think word of mouth is a flawed method because it can easily pass down wrong information. However, in the time of the early church, oral tradition was taken serious because eternity was a stake and it could cost them their lives in the Roman Empire. They wanted to make sure they wouldn’t die for a lie. That is why Paul said to Timothy to do the teaching in the presence of many reliable witnesses. If someone started to teach false doctrine the others could easily correct it.
Think of the church connecting people to the cross as the gospel being preached in various ways but mostly through public evangelism and friendship evangelism. Mentoring is discipling both one-on-one and in small group settings; like in Bible study groups or Sunday school style classes. And sending out new disciples to preach is ordaining new elders and deacons to repeat the process and reliably spread the gospel- just like how the early church appointed new leaders.
When we have a church functioning the way God intended it to, we can receive Jesus’ promise in Matthew 16:18, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it!” The ole’ timers used to say, “Let’s all reach one, to teach one, to reach one and repeat the process until Jesus comes back!”
Are you committed to a good church with godly elders and deacons?
- Prayerfully join a good church if you haven’t already.
- Get trained up and sent out to preach the gospel.
- Bring your new disciples to the church to be trained and mentored by the elders and deacons so they can be sent out to preach!