To “train” someone:
“to give the discipline and instruction, drill, practice, etc., designed to impart proficiency or efficiency.1”
- Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
The word, “child” obviously means a child, that is a boy or girl. But the context allows for including “new Christians,” in the interpretation, as God refers to us a His children. (See Galatians 4:28, Ephesians 5:1, Hebrews 12:8, 1 Peter 1:14, 3 John 1:4)
As pastors and Bible teachers, included in our intentions for those we teach, we must desire to train them in the way that they should go. Helping people to come to know the Lord and be saved is only the first step. Training them, is what is expected of those who lead people to the Lord. God is not only interested in “saving” people, but He also wants them trained to do the work He wants done.
- Ephesians 4:11-
16 “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” Emphasis mine.
Why did God give us apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers?
1. For the equipping of the saints
To equip means to furnish or provide with whatever is needed for use or for any undertaking; fit out, as a ship or army.2 This will include the skills and understanding to do the specific work that God wants from those who were trained. For example, to be a Bible teacher, to help people with their finances, to help the poor, to help those who have suffered traumas, and so forth.
2. For the work of service.
“Salvation” was the first step, but God expects people to become involved in ministering to others. We are told to “love one another” (John 15:12). “Love” in this context is not a feeling, but an action. God loved us by making a sacrifice, He ministered to us by dying on the cross. He wants His children making the sacrifice of doing something for others that is needed by those people, and not just trying to live a “good” Christian life. God is love, but He is not human love.
3. To the building up of the body of Christ.
The service that God wants from all of His children is where they learn to meets the needs of other Christians. This way, if all Christians are doing their part in service, then all Christian’s needs could be met. If all Christians are actively doing their “work” then the body of Christ (all of the saved people) will be “built up.”
4. Until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God.
How long should these workers keep doing their “jobs?” Until “we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God. Many Christians are stifled in their growth in the Lord because of the problems or circumstances they face. If All Christians were to be “trained” to do their parts, and if they were to actually do them, these “problems and/or circumstances” would have little ability to interfere with the growth of these Christians.
5. To a mature man.
Why does God want these people to be ministered to? He wants them to develop and mature. Mature Christians serve through ministry. That is the real sign of maturity in a Christian, that they serve others. Maturity is not proven because someone has lots of knowledge of Biblical things. Maturity is proven in how we “love” others (the sacrifice of meeting the needs of another person).
6. To the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
How mature does God want His children to get? “To the measure of the stature.” The word stature in the Greek means “age or lifespan.” The word “fullness” speaks of something that “contains all.” So we are being told that God wants His children to mature until they are able to live and do as Christ. Jesus lived to serve others by meeting the most important need in their lives, to be rescued from certain spiritual death and given eternal life. He did not just do “good” things that He thought would please the Father, He did what the Father wanted Him to do, and only that. God wants the same for all of His children. To do what He calls them to do, not what they want to do for Him. But just maturing people is not the final objective of the Lord. There are clear benefits to maturity.
7. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming.
God wants His children to mature enough to be able to clearly understand the Scriptures to the point that they will not be victims to lies and deceptions of people who only want to use and hurt them spiritually. Every Christian should mature enough to be able to give an explainable reason why they believe what they believe (1 Peter 3:15). Too many times we hear Christians say, “I know what I believe, but I just can’t explain it.” This is clear proof that they are actually confused about what they believe.
8. But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head.
Notice the clear statement, “We are to grow up in all aspects.” This does include knowledge of the things of God, right? But is also includes being trained in the things of God. These two are not the same thing. In the first case, we know about Christianity, in the second case, we are doing the things expected of Christians.
9. The whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies.
What is it that fits and holds the “body” together? “What every joint supplies.” Christians are the “joints” that fit and hold the body together. If all God’s children truly do their part, then the body is fitted (the Greek idea is of knitted; that is interwoven, as each part helping the other part to do its part as well). I get the picture of gears in a watch. One gear moves another gear which moves another gear, and so forth.
10. According to the proper working of each individual part.
Each gear in a watch has its own function and necessity. If one gear goes bad, the whole watch is affected and can stop functioning correctly. The same is true of the “body of Christ,” that is, we who are God’s children. If we are ALL not doing our parts, that causes other parts to have to overwork, or not work to full capacity. Then, instead of having a healthy “body” we have a malfunctioning, unhealthy, disjointed body that is too crippled to do the work that God wants it to do.
11. Causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”
If every part of the body of Christ did its part, it would cause the growth of the “body.” Bay Christians are ineffective for growth in the “body.” But, mature Christians are specifically the reason for that growth. If a church is full of immature Christians, it will grow to a point, and stop growing because they are not doing their proper individual parts. This passage is clear that Christ causes the growth of the “body,” but that He uses His mature children to do the work of growing the “body.” In other words, Christ works through them, not in spite of them. If the people either will not, or cannot (due to immaturity) do their proper parts, then Christ will not “build up” the body.
So What is Training Then?
If we, those of us who are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, who claim to be mature, do our specific parts, then there is one thing we must be about doing, training the saints. You train someone by either identifying their “calling” from God, or they tell you what their “calling” is, and then you help them develop the skills and abilities to do that job.
For example if you find that one of your members has been called to teach the Word, you start by teaching them how to study their Bible. You can teach them how to do proper interpretation. You can teach them how to search out the resources that will enable them to develop skills specific to teaching the Word. You can help them learn to teach as compared to lecture people. You can take them step by step learning how to do the work, call it on-
There are also many of us who ignore or avoid large parts of the Scriptures for use in training. We tend to preach from our own beliefs and experiences. We may never say the words, but we think people should ignore any part of the Word of God that does not relate directly to their salvation or daily “walk” with God. But God feels differently, He wants us to teach and train people using the whole Bible.
- 2 Timothy 3:16-
17 “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
No, I am not saying that you and I should head straight to those sections that are difficult and troublesome. But, I am saying that, at the same time, we should not avoid them either. Just because you either don’t care about those parts, or that they have no immediate relevance in your preaching style and general topical selection, this by no means is a reason to not train others who may need to be trained from those parts. Remember that we must “train” the “children” (God’s children) in the way that they should go, not the wayyou think they should go. If you do not know what way they should go, then spend time with God asking Him to show you and them the right way.
Too many Christians are like the women of 1 Titus 3:7. They are “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Some of these saints have been “saved” for years upon years, and are still just showing up on Sundays to get their next fix or dose to hold them over for the week. Like addicts they show up get something instead of to give something.
- Hebrews 5:12-
14 “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.
During one of your sermons, ask your members to show hands on how many years they have been Christians. Ask, “How many have been saved for five years, ten years, or more?” Count the number of hands. Then count how many people in your church actually are serving others through ministry. What’s the difference in number? That’s what I thought.
I know that you are concerned with more than just how many people come to your church. If you are happy with the number of people you have, then don’t change anything. But if you want the “body” of your church to grow, not only in maturity, but in number as well, then start training them to do their proper parts so that Christ can use them to grow the “body.”
Before you become distracted, wondering who I think I am that I believe I can tell you what you should be doing, please read the following, because this is how I believe about me.
May God bless you and yours, as you obey His Word.