Posts Tagged ‘Missions’

Public Response to 2 Pertinent Comments

September 16, 2008

Recent comment:

“If a young man is permitted to plant a church and can do so effectively; and he is given responsibility to appoint men into eldership… How is it that the young man himself is not qualified for office of elder/pastor?”

This is a question that we are often asked, so we thought it would be helpful if we made a public response in the form of a blog post. 

We believe church planting is a viable ministry for young “Timothys”. We also encourage “Timothys” to wait for a different season of life to take up the office of elder/pastor. Many think that these two positions are in opposition to each other.

First, we need to make some qualifying remarks concerning church planting. We strongly endorse a mentored ministry approach to church planting, being sent out and in intentional accountability to the elders of a church. This will look different in different church planting contexts. A young Timothy being involved in pioneer missions (church planting overseas) will look different than a young Timothy being sent out to be involved in a church plant across town. In either case, we hope that while the Timothy will often be making day to day judgment calls, ultimately he is carrying out the wishes of his elders, acting as an arm of the local church he was sent from.

In a Pioneer church plant scenario it is more difficult for the elders to be active in the church plant. However, in a local church plant, there is opportunity for more hands on mentorship. The best option for either of these scenarios would be if the Timothy was a part of team that was accountable to the same elders.

For us it’s an issue of authority. When a young Timothy is sent out, he is operating with a commission from the local elders. He is like a Marine who has been commissioned by a commanding officer. Here is an example: If I tell my daughter to go tell her sister to come to the table because dinner is ready, her sister has to obey. Not because the daughter who I commissioned has authority, or is now qualified to be a parent, but because she carries my authority with her.

While we are planting a local church we may be exercising authority that is reserved for an elder, but we are operating as an arm of our local elders. Just as Timothy was operating under Paul’s authority in all he was doing.

Another related comment that was made:

“I suppose my suggestion is that the very case of Timothy-and many other mature and gifted young men-demonstrates that Paul’s regulations regarding elders has more to do with maturity and character than with meeting a certain age requirement.”

We agree. Age doesn’t have much intrinsic value regarding the qualifications for elder. Rather, gaining the necessary qualities of an elder takes time. One interesting thing to note is that an elder is expected to have believing children. The biblical writers assume that men who would be considered for eldership would be of the age that, if they have children, they are old enough to be “believing”. Again, it is not our quest to pick an arbitrary age and say, “anyone younger than this should not be an elder!” We are more than happy to concede that there may be young men out there who meet the qualifications for eldership. We praise God for that! However, as we face the text and examine our own lives, we know that we are in a different season of life. We are calling out to other young men to examine themselves in the light of God’s Word along with us, obeying their sense of call to the ministry while refusing to compromise the requirements of eldership.

Missions part 2: Be A Church Planter

September 10, 2008

This post is continuing the short series on the role of the Timothy’s in frontier missions. If you even catch part of our vision, you know that we advocate for young men to wait to enter eldership until they reach the qualifications the Bible sets forth. So the next question is, “Then what am I supposed to do with my life if all I really want to do, and feel called to do, is minister the Word?” The reason for the missions series is to, hopefully, stir a passion in your heart to consider giving your life on the mission field.  Here’s why…

We are in a unique season of life. There is a tendency for people in one season to desire to be in a different season…and it is generally a desire to be older. When we are 8 we want to be 12, so we can stay up later with our parents. When we are 12 we want to be 16, so we can drive. When we are 16 we want to be in our 20’s so we can move out, get married, and start our lives. So that’s where I am. I am in my 20’s. I moved out, I got married, and I have 2 (1 in the hopper) kids. I want to be effective in ministry for the glory of God in Christ. My problem can be, that I think I have to be older to be effective in ministry, when in reality it is that I have to be older to be an effective elder.  Not every full-time ministry in the Church has the same age/experience requirements as eldership.  While elders can have very effective and influential ministries, God has a role for us younger guys to fulfill in this stage of life. We are made to be in a partnership with older men in the gospel.

At a recent board meeting, To Every Tribe Missions discussed the value of sending “Timothy’s” into the field. Timothy’s offer something that older man cannot: endurance, vigor, strength. TETM wants us because God has given us something unique and useful to His kingdom.

Look at what Timothy’s relationship was with Paul. Timothy was Paul’s delegate. He was a co-worker with Paul in the gospel. William Mounce says in Pastoral Epistles that Timothy and Titus were, “itinerate, apostolic delegates sent with Paul’s authority to deal with local problems, just as they do in Acts.” So Timothy doesn’t rely on any authority of his own but he relies on the authority given to him by Paul and foremost on the authority of the gospel. He travels around the Mediterranean sometimes with Paul and sometimes without. His is Paul’s son in the faith and everyone knows him to be this. People listen to what Timothy says because of his relationship with an older man in the gospel, Paul.

The point is this: we may not have the authority to rule over a local church, but we can have the authority, granted by God through the local church, to plant local churches. I am convinced that being a local church planter is the primary purpose of missionaries. Planting a local church is the best thing we can do for a local group of people. By planting a local church and teaching them how to live, we have established a local manifestation of the kingdom of God. From there, this new church and these new Christians are fully capable of being the body of Christ and ministering to their local community. They can deal with social injustices, care for those in need (widows and orphans), continue evangelizing to build the church, and they can disciple new converts. Then . . .  we can leave! We aren’t necessarily intended to stay.  We can help to appoint local elders to rule, as Timothy did, though we may not be in that season ourselves.

I challenge you to do the work of Timothy. Plant local churches where there are none. A local church is the best thing you can do for any people group. Don’t primarily send people to dig wells, or plant rice, or to build buildings. Send people to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Then teach new converts how they ought to live and look for aged men who love Jesus, to oversee in a way which young men cannot.

Bring the babies!

August 29, 2008

I have been recently provoked to think about pre-elders in missions. What exactly is our role? Should we go? Should we bring our families? Should we finish school first? Do we even need training? I am going to spend the next few posts over the next few days talking about some of these issues. God has brought a few different things in my path lately that has caused me to think about missions.

Side note: explaining how God “calls” and “leads” people to do things, and the way He communicates His will is not something easily explained. But I can describe one way in which God communicates certain ideas and thoughts to me: Over the past week about 10 different references to missions has crossed my path.  This afternoon I had a meeting with my pastor in which he shared with me all about his trip to Texas to meet with David Sitton, at To Every Tribe Missions. They were discussing their upcoming mission’s conference with John Piper, and discussing our upcoming conference as well. So there I was, culminating my week long discussion of missions talking about the pre-elders role in missions. Maybe this is just the beginning of something God is starting in my heart.

The 9Marks September/October 2008 eJournal came out a few days ago and there is a very thought provoking article about bringing our children on the mission field. The author highlights an aspect of missions that I hold very dear to my heart. Namely this: what are we to do when we go to the mission field? We do the same thing that we are to do at home. We live life. Dr. Jay Adams says that the household is the smallest sub-group of the church in existence. I totally agree. The New Testament calls us ambassadors and that therefore makes our homes embassies. An embassy is a place where people can come and see (taste and see) that our “country” is good. An embassy represents the Kingdom well. Further, God has ordained marriage so that it will magnify the blood bought relationship between Christ and His church. Paul says in Ephesians that marriage is about Christ and the church, meaning, it has a greater purpose than the purpose we see day in and day out.

John Piper has said that marriage is for making children…disciples of Jesus. He says this because marriage is the closest place on earth to see the relationship between Christ and His church. So when we take our wives and children on the field, we are bringing a church–an embassy of the Kingdom of God–and a living, breathing, loving example of how Christ interacts with His church.

Check out the 9Marks article and come tell us what you think: Should missionaries take their families with them?