One of the pressing needs of our brotherhood is great and godly leaders in the church. However, leaders do not just happen—they are made! We must realize that the Church has the responsibility for training these leaders. Without doubt, some men are born with greater leadership ability than others, but this alone does not make a leader.
First of all, I would suggest that we start training leaders from their youth. When children, from their earliest years, are taught by godly parents, by a strong Bible class arrangement, and from a strong pulpit, that as they grow toward adulthood, they must be willing to accept their responsibilities and obligations as they become qualified, we will have young men and women stepping in and working whatever capacity they can.
On the other hand, when we come in contact with a person who has obeyed the Gospel later in life and the person is manifesting the qualities of “leadership,” we should encourage him to “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18) “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen.”
We should not hesitate to encourage the man and woman in their twenties and thirties to begin, right then, to work toward the goal of becoming a godly elder and elder’s wife. Many great and godly elders, preachers, and strong workers that we have in the church today never heard the simple Gospel of Christ until they were well past their teenage years.
Second, I would strongly urge that we show them “leadership.” How many of our young people are going into the world without ever having seen true, Biblical “leadership”? Rather, they have seen weak, insipid, vague “leadership” demonstrated by elders and preachers who test the winds of the wishes of the people before they make a decision, men who will stand for nothing and fall for everything! By the example of such men, most of our young people are seeing the church as a democracy rather than a monarchy.
Last, but certainly not least, I would urge a strong diet of “the word of the truth of the gospel” (Colossians 1:5) “For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel”. The number of elders, parents, and Bible class teachers who are to be blamed because they have failed to see the great opportunities of a Bible class situation will not be known this side of eternity. Sadly enough parents have turned their responsibility of teaching the Bible over to the Bible class because they do not know the Bible, and in many instances, the teacher knows precious little more than the parent. Uncaring elders without knowledge, unprepared and unqualified teachers, games, paste, and crayons will not lay the groundwork for a child who knows little about the Bible.
The strength of the pulpit should never be underestimated. The preaching of the simple Gospel of Christ will help in training men for leadership in the church. Rather than upholding principles of truth, righteousness, and holiness, of sending forth a clear message of condemnation of sin and urging repentance and conviction based upon Bible authority, our pulpits are turning the church into a “mutual admiration society,” a “make me feel good about me in my sins” gathering, a “let’s do something even if it’s wrong” attitude, a “toys, games, and yo-yos” complex that mistakes coffee, doughnuts, and gymnasiums for the “fellowship” of (1 John 1:7 )“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”
As long as our colleges and our schools of preaching recognize the part they can play in the training of leaders, that they are a means to an end, and not the end itself (this is not to be understood as blanket endorsement of all of “our” colleges or all of “our” preaching schools)., then they likewise should be considered. But when such institutions become “policy makers” for the brotherhood, with pulpits filled or emptied at the behest, or when they become “doctrine makers,” then they have overstepped their usefulness and should pass into oblivion.
We have a great and mighty task before us. Le us put on “the whole armour of God” (Ephesians 6:13) “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand”, that we might be able to train men for leadership in the New Testament church.