Teachers Who Reproduce Other Teachers

by Alexander Strauch

Alexander is a church leader and author in the USA.

The people who saw and heard Jesus Christ speak called him Rabbi (Teacher). Jesus is the master teacher – a teacher sent from God (Jn 3:2).

Before His ascension into Heaven, our Lord gave His disciples the Great Commission: ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age’ (Mt. 28:19-20).

An essential part of the Great Commission, which must never be overlooked, is teaching new believers all that Jesus Christ had taught. Not only were the disciples to teach new believers all Christ’s teachings, they were to observe and live them out. Christianity is not just knowledge to learn, but a lifestyle to be lived.

From the beginning, Christianity has been a teaching-preaching movement. James Orr, a Scottish theologian, best known as general editor of The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, makes this profound statement: ‘If there is a religion in the world which exalts the office of teaching, it is safe to say that it is the religion of Jesus Christ.’ The great revivals and reformations throughout church history have been a result of the fresh, Spirit-empowered teaching and preaching of the Word of God. Spirit-empowered teaching is still needed today.

In the majority world we see many conversions to Christ and a significant numerical growth of churches. However, at the same time, there can be a limited biblical and theological understanding among many of the leaders and teachers of these new movements, due to a lack of solid biblical teaching. Therefore, there is a need and an opportunity for Western mission workers and gifted Bible teachers to help ground these new believers in ‘the whole counsel of God’ (Ac. 20:27).

At the 2010 Lausanne Conference in Cape Town, South Africa, the education of local leaders and teachers in developing countries was emphasised as an urgent need. Otherwise, many new converts are open to the enemy’s clever deceptions. New believers are being ‘…tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes’ (Eph. 4:14).

Prosperity teaching, for example, has exploded worldwide. This is not the biblical gospel of Jesus Christ; it is a ‘gospel’ of false promises and materialism. It is a gospel built on poor Bible exposition and exegesis, by people who enrich themselves at the cost of the vulnerable. Many brothers and sisters in Christ are caught in the web of this pseudo‑gospel. Our hearts should grieve for fellow believers who are tossed to and fro by deceptive teaching.

One of the most effective ways to counteract false teaching is to direct effort into the education of local and national leaders, and teachers, in sound biblical knowledge and Christian doctrine. Facing challenges similar to those we face today, Paul wrote to Titus: ‘But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine’ (Tit. 2:1).

If we do not train teachers who understand and carry out the biblical mandate – to train other teachers, who will in turn train other teachers – we have failed in our discipleship of Christian leaders and teachers.

Western churches and leaders have much to offer our fellow brothers and sisters in parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America, in the way of education and printed resources that can be used for training in sound doctrine. In Europe, North America and the UK, we have 500 years of Reformation history and thinking.We have vast resources and tools to help us understand the Scriptures, and to help us live the Christian life. We have easy access through the internet to the world’s greatest Bible teachers. There are many resources for helping Christian marriage and parenting. We have Bible schools and seminaries, as well as many online tools for Bible study.

With such resources at our disposal, it is remiss of us if we do not share this wealth in Bible interpretation, systematic theology, Bible doctrine and Christian living with other believers who have little by way of resources. We have a responsibility to help believers in other parts of the world, who have been introduced to the evangelical faith more recently.

However, there is caution here: rather than dump Western theology or a Western world view on others, all teaching must be appropriate for the context into which it is being taught. Sensitivity is required and care must be taken to focus on biblical principles and not our traditions.

Thankfully, many Christian organisations and mission workers are addressing this responsibility. A missionary friend, who has spent 36 years in Africa, training teachers, pastors, elders and leaders, recently told me that the need for Christian education of leaders and teachers is as great as ever. Many of the pastors and elders he trains have confused ideas about the gospel, and about the biblical purposes of the local church.

There are also online schools providing good biblical education that can reach large numbers of people worldwide, at minimal cost. I have personally been involved in one such school for the past five years: Biblical Eldership Resources (BiblicalEldership.com) and its School of the Shepherds. This is an online school designed to be used in the local church to train future shepherd elders. It is not an exaggeration to say that many elders simply do not know what they are supposed to know and they are ill-equipped in biblical doctrine. They are not trained or prepared for their job. Online schools, like School of the Shepherds, can have a global impact via the internet. To reach other language groups, School of the Shepherds is being translated into other languages.

The 2 Timothy 2:2 Principle

A strategic need in world mission today is the intensified training of national and local leaders. But this is only part of the task. We must pass on the biblical vision that trained leaders are to be spiritual reproducers and disciplers of others. They are to make every effort to train indigenous teachers and leaders at local and national levels, and not use their training to promote their own status or lord their education over others. They are not to become like Diotrephes (3 Jn 9‑10). They are to see themselves as servant leaders,promoting others. This is true biblical reproduction of teachers and leaders: ‘…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 Tim. 2:2).

If we do not train teachers who understand and carry out the biblical mandate – to train other teachers, who will in turn train other teachers – we have failed in our discipleship of Christian leaders and teachers.

How You Can be Involved?

How can your local church and its elders participate in this worldwide need for teaching ‘the whole counsel of God’, and to teach teachers, who will have the vision to train others in the ongoing process of gospel transmission to the next generation?

  • Select a part of the world for which you have a burden, perhaps a place where your church already has mission workers. Concentrate your efforts to help this country and its churches to train teachers.
  • Send printed or audio resources to mission workers there, and to the local believers they are working with. Your mission workers also need to be challenged to read new books, or hear important messages from other gifted teachers for their own personal growth.
  • Send Spirit-gifted Bible teachers from your church to help on a short-term basis; groups such as Echoes International will be open to support you in this.
  • Financially support potential indigenous teachers to attend Bible school for more in-depth teaching.
  • Partner with local believers and their leaders in prayer.

When I visited a certain Asian country, some local church leaders asked me, ‘Do you even know we are here? We have very few Western visitors come to see us, teach us, or pray for us.’ Following this encounter, our church began a prayer partnership with them. Many assemblies in distant countries desire our fellowship and help. They want our support, our prayers and our love. Be a partner church with a church that needs your assistance.

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