trust-1024x491One of the most important principles that has driven the direction of our ministry in 'Asia Pacific' over the last ten and half years, has been the idea that we always need to be thinking about the long term, i.e. How is what I'm doing right now equipping these believers to stand on their own feet? Paul referred to this idea as "Entrusting" in his much quoted charge to Timothy:

...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 2:2 (ESV)

Now obviously this idea didn't originate with Paul. He knew that Christ had done this very thing with His Apostles in Matthew 28: 18-20 and if he stretched his mind back further, as I'm sure he did, he would have seen some similar concepts in Jethro's advice to Moses in Exodus 18:19-24. So what does this look like in practice?

I must admit to getting frustrated at times when people come across as though pastors needs solid biblical training, but missionaries seem to be called to a lower standard. I'm not sure where that logic comes from, but the Bible certainly doesn't speak that way. If anything, we should hope that a person desiring to carry out the Great Commission, "teaching them to obey all" that Christ has commanded people in another country, would need all the Bible training they could get and then on top of that need to study principles of cross-cultural ministry, culture and language acquisition etc. We need to have something to entrust.

This is no different when we come to train national workers, or local church elders. Why would we call them to a lower standard? We need to be very careful of methods of ministry that give too much emphasis to how fast we can get in and get out. We certainly need to be urgent in what we do, but trying to get in and out too fast, rather than committing to long-term ministry, leads to syncretism (coming from an inadequate understanding of the gospel) and shallow, repetitive, or erroneous teaching (coming from a lack of training). This is certainly not meant in a paternalistic sense, where we stay and lead, not at all. But thorough equipping leads to confident equippers, who in turn pour into others the same or better teaching than they received.

 Equipping Well
Paul makes quite a general type of statement when he speaks of what Timothy had heard from him, so this leads us to question what in fact had he heard. We would have to say that it was pretty much everything Paul had to say. Timothy spent literally years hearing what God had to say through Paul – What a foundation!

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