Urgently Needed -- Church Training
2 Timothy 2:15: "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not
to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
When I was a child, our church had Church Training every Sunday evening.
The purpose was to train Christians in church membership.
Church Training from the time I was a child to the time when God called me to preach,
has been invaluable to me throughout my life.
Today, I can name dozens of churches that have no training for church membership.
In fact most of our church members who attend every Sunday are content
to attend a Sunday morning worship service, and believe they have taken care
of their Christian responsibilities for the week.
Isn't that amazing that they would give God one hour out of the week that He gave them.
In fact most church members who attend church every Sunday have a very
superficial knowledge of the Word of God.
Years ago I read of a lawyer who became aggravated with one of his fellow lawyers
who kept winning his cases by quoting the Bible.
He would preface his remarks by saying, "As the Bible says,"
or "As the word of God declares" and then, he would come out with a statement
that would exactly prove his point.
The young lawyer was jealous because this attorney kept winning all his cases,
and so he decided to challenge him.
One day, as they were standing in the courtroom, this young lawyer challenge the attorney,
"You are always quoting the Bible to prove your point.
You pretend to know the Bible so well, but I don't believe you do.
In fact I bet you five dollars that you can't quote The Lord's Prayer."
The attorney was put on the spot, and without cracking a smile, bowed his head
and looking very sanctimonious began to pray,
"Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take."
Then, the most remarkable thing happen.
They young lawyer said, "Well, you sure fooled me -- you really know the Bible."
Our churches are full of unlearned, anemic, undernourished, and even sickly and diseased Christians.
Someone has said that our churches are full of empty people.
Maybe, they are half full of half empty people.
We have life, but not fullness of life.
We have power, but not fullness of power.
We have concern, but not activating concern.
We have fashion, but not passion.
We have interest, but not inspiration.
We have ability, but not availability.
Never have we stood between such tremendous potential and such terrifying peril.
The storm of the ages is about to break up on us, and we must be prepared.
"Rise up, O people of God!
The church for you doth wait.
Her strength unequal for her task;
Rise up and make her great."
To be the church that God has commanded us to be, we must be trained.
Many of our church members attend only the Sunday morning services,
and have no intention of giving God another hour on Sunday evening or
through the week to be trained in church membership.
Many who teach Sunday school, serve on committees are never trained to serve.
Most of our church members who serve the church faithfully and attend regularly
find themselves overloaded while probably 80 percent of our church members
accept no position in the church.
So, those who do serve understand this little poem:
"Mary had a little lamb.
It would have become a sheep.
It became a faithful Baptist,
And died from lack of sleep."
I honestly believe that many of the difficulties and the little picky problems
that occur in our churches are because of overworked and undertrained leadership.
We must pray for workers to enter the harvest.
We must challenge our members to understand that Jesus intended every Christian
to be trained to serve.
We have been saved to serve.
Jesus gave his disciples three years of intensive training.
Jesus did many wonderful works, but the most enduring work was the training of the 12.
Had He not equipped the 12 with the necessary training and tools to do the work of the kingdom,
everything would have ended with His death.
In His high priestly prayer to the Father before His death, Jesus alluded to this training of the 12.
"For I have passed on to them the commands you gave me; and they accepted them
and know of a certain they that I came down to earth from you, and they believe you sent me."
(John 17: 8, TLB)
Will you be able to say, "I have passed on to others, what God has commanded me to do."
Training was an important part of the formation of the early church and of the work of the apostle Paul.
Remember, that the training of the church was the key for the rapid expansion of the church
in the first century.
Training is still the key.
Let me say it loud and clear -- Church training is so important to the mission of the church
that I could never emphasize it enough.
Training in church membership is the most important and influential work that any Christian
could ever do.
In our church we have most important institution on the face of the earth,
and the majority of our membership are not willing to give God a little of the time
that He has given them to be trained in serving Him through the church.
We have people in our churches who will continue to train and develop their skills
in other areas, such as golf, tennis, etc..
There are those who involve themselves in lifelong training for their work, and they should.
But they should also be willing to be trained to serve God.
Here is the church of the Eternal God and Christians who profess to be redeemed
and yet, are not willing to give God one extra hour each week to train for the most important work
on the face of the earth.
We must wake up to the urgency to be trained in church membership.
Supervised training is essential.
Some things must be learned by practical experience combined with study.
Who would be willing for a doctor to perform surgery on him if that doctor had not first
received supervised training during a period of internship in some hospital.
The Church training I received consisted of speechmaking, presiding, praying in public,
witnessing to the unsaved, worshipping, serving on committees, keeping records,
and giving to the Lord's work.
I also learned how to get along with others, and developed regular Bible study habits.
I learned leadership qualities, and the doctrines of God's word.
I learned to be a participating church member at time in my life when good
church membership habits became fixed in my life.
Church training should be for all of the members of the church.
It is for all ages -- for adults, young people, and children.
Parents run themselves ragged running their children to all types of social activities,
community activities, and sport activities, and practices galore.
But for the most important training that they and their children could ever have -- they ignore.
This will tragically backfire as the years pass.
We must be committed to the business of training Christians in church membership.
We are under orders.
Jesus commanded us.
We must win them.
We must teach them.
We must train them.
This is urgent!
Too many of our church members are just "too busy," or "not qualified," to fill places of service
in the Lord's work of the church, yet they have ample time to serve in civic clubs, and community affairs.
They will accept numerous responsibilities of leadership in many other activities,
and yet, will not give the Lord one extra hour a week to train themselves in His service.
We must ask ourselves as to where our priorities are in our time and talents.
We must pray that we would be willing to be trained to serve our Lord Jesus Christ.
Some years ago I read the story of a young preacher who died in his twenties.
He had made one of the greatest impressions upon Scotland of any preacher
who had ever preached in that land.
A visitor came many miles to try to learn the secret of that young preacher.
When he arrived at the church, he met the caretaker, and told him why he had come.
The caretaker said: "I know the secret -- come with me."
He took the man to the study where the young preacher had studied, and said,
"This is his chair in which he studied, and this is the desk on which he had his books
and his Bible.
Come, sit in his chair."
The visitor sat in the chair.
Then, the caretaker said, "Now put your hands on the top of the desk."
The visitor put his hands on top of the desk.
Then, the caretaker said, "Now, bury your face in your hands and weep."
This is the kind of burden needed to restore church training in all of our churches.
If this is not done, our churches will die.
What a challenge!
The harvest is truly plentious, but the laborers -- the workers, people who are willing
to give of themselves to serve our great God are few.
There are more souls to be saved, more mouths to be fed, more hearts to be comforted,
more tears to be dried, more burdens to be lifted than ever before.
We must be trained!
Every church member must be willing to be trained in church membership.
Let us get busy!
I read of an old country preacher, who had his Ph.D. in the University of Hard Knocks And Experience
who prayed this prayer:
"Lord, give me a backbone as big as a saw log and ribs like the sleepers under the church floor.
Put iron shoes on me and galvanize my breeches.
Give me a rhinoceros' hide for skin and hang a wagonload of determination
upon the gable end of my soul.
Help me to sign a contract to fight the devil as long as I've got a fist,
and then bite him as long as I've got a tooth,
and then gum him to death."
It is with that kind of determination that we are to do God's work.
Every church must be training its members to serve so that the work of the Lord
will be strengthened now and for the future.
"Work, for the night is coming.
Work, thro' the morning hours;
Work while the dew is sparkling.
Work 'mid springing flowers;
Work when the day grows brighter.
Working in the glowing sun;
Work, for the night is coming
When man's work is done."
Let us substitute the word, "train."
"Train, for the night is coming.
We must train others, and they must train others, and keep training till Jesus comes.
The future of our churches will depend on how well we do that.
Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White