And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

2 Timothy 2:2

Training Leaders was Jesus’ ministry model.

And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach,

Matthew 3:13

In His earthly ministry, that is, the three years that He spent doing His public ministry, Jesus had a great many disciples or followers. At one time, He preached to more than 5,000. Another time, He sent out 70 to preach about the Kingdom of God. And in the end, 120 followers met in the upper room before Pentecost. However, there was only a group of twelve that spent all of their time with Jesus. It was these twelve men, the disciples, that Jesus spent His time investing in. Jesus was never about the big numbers. He trained a few leaders that He would go on to use to change the World.

Technology, travel, and communication have improved over the years, but the method Jesus used to train men for ministry cannot be improved upon.

The Apostle Paul trained leaders in the early church.

Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.

2 Timothy 1:13-14

The Apostle Paul is known to us today because the Lord used him to pen much of the New Testament and to start a great church-planting movement in the first century. What we don’t often consider is that two of the books of the New Testament that he wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit were written to two spiritual leaders, Timothy and Titus. Paul called these men his sons in the ministry.

Of course, these are the most famous of his spiritual sons, but others are also mentioned, such as Tychicus, Epaphroditus, Clement, Aristarchus, Philemon, and many more.

Clearly, Paul knew the great value of training spiritual leaders and, as Jesus did, invested much of his time in them.

The Bible directly teaches it.

…but whosoever shall do and teach them [the commandments], the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:19b

The Bible gives us much on the topic of teaching and training others for the work of the ministry. It is even a part of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).

In the Old Testament, several great men of God sought to train godly men to lead in their place. Moses trained Joshua. Elijah trained Elisha. David trained his son, Solomon. And the list grows longer the more you dig into the Word.

In the New Testament, outside of Jesus and Paul, the concept of training leaders was done by many. The Apostles trained the first deacons (Philip and Stephen, etc). Peter reluctantly trained Cornelius. Aquila and Pricila trained Apollos, at least to a certain degree. Barnabas trained Paul, and so on.

Church-Planting Movements are fueled by leader training.

Here at Vision Baptist Missions, our vision statement says, “…every person has heard the gospel, every community has an indigenous Baptist church, and every church has trained national leadership.” We truly believe that if we are going to get the gospel around the world, we will need to have churches with leaders. It is hard to understate the importance of training spiritual leaders. We will never be able to go to the next community, town, or village if trained spiritual leaders are not sent.

Every missionary will one day leave the mission field. It might be because of age, sickness, God directing elsewhere, paperwork, government blocking entry or death. The question is not if but when. Only God can bless and sustain, but by training future leaders, the missionary can best prepare for the time of his absence. The future of the ministry, its impact, and its geographical multiplication are strongly determined by the philosophy of training men. As Robert Coleman said in his book The Master Plan of World Evangelism, “One must decide where he wants his ministry to count—in the momentary applause of popular recognition or the reproduction of his life in a few chosen men who will carry on his work after he has gone.”

If you would like to hear more about leader training, click here to hear Jason Holt and Jeff Bush talk about this topic: