We briefly saw in the last paper that it is the New Testament pattern for elders come up from within the church; they are recognised by the church for the work they do! God gives all the gifts that each church requires! However, too often churches have their own traditions and ignore scripture. Despite that, we have seen historically that even in hierarchical leadership God overlooks all that and blesses greatly. We can think of many fruitful church leaders who were not even baptised! Motive is critical!
However, there has been one consistent failure that God does not overlook and it has led to serious church failure every time, and that is leaders who fail to train up new leaders from within their churches. Why is it that elders usually fail to discern leadership gifting in younger men? They train up preachers and teachers for the pulpits, but why is there this ‘generation gap’? This gap often caused those gifted young men to leave their own churches, sometimes ‘under a cloud’, and start up their own church; or join others to become successful leaders there.
The generation gap has been particularly noticeable in our times and it appears that most elders have been incapable of maintaining levels of spirituality that could discern and train new leaders for the next generation. This is all part of the other problem noted in the last paper, many thought eldership an office, only vacated by death.
This sad situation was aggravated by the idea that elders rule the church; as in the Authorised Version, 1Tim 5;17. Elders do not ‘rule’ the church, the New Testament church is ‘Congregational’ in structure. That word ‘rule’ in many translations is a poor rendering; the Greek pro-istemi has the sense of – someone who stands up to be seen as an example before everyone else – they lead by example. The great need remains, elders who can say – be imitators of me, as I imitate Christ!
So what of the future? How can our churches move on and be ready for the testing times that certainly lay ahead; for never before has Christianity had such a bad reputation in society. How are we to stand against the atheists, agnostic authorities, the gay lobby, the women’s pro choice lobby and not least, Islam; all of these and more, militate against the church in ways never been seen before in the UK.
Realistically, I doubt that many of our older established churches will make it through the testing, they will crumble before the onslaught and only a few will have the faith to stand in an evil day. But what is to be done today? What do our young people, our potential leaders, need to do? Firstly, they need to be fully aware of the desperate situation and they will have to decide to stand against the evil day. Possibly some will fail, but others will stand. How?
They will read their Bibles and they will pray; they may even ask advice from a few trusted sources, they will read of those who stood in the past, but they will have that burning inner desire to be a fruitful witness for Truth in an evil day. They will desperately want to glorify God and defeat Satan, they will hate the way he gets away with causing so much suffering and evil, and they will pray like they’ve never prayed before! Little groups will form here and there and they will pray together and beg God for strength to stand against sin. Some will start and see the power of God demonstrated and more will follow. They will find various ways of standing, it maybe personal witness, it might be doing good works to the needy, there are many ways to stand, but stand they will and they will not be discouraged by anyone or anything – they will sing the little chorus –
I have decided, to follow Jesus,
Tho’ none go with me, I still will follow,
No turning back, no turning back!
They will be amazed at the ways God answers their prayers and soon they will find others joining them, because they are inspirational; they will not be a little group for long; soon they will be force to be reckoned with! As their influence grows, people will marvel as their testimony becomes very fruitful and many will trust Christ as a result. The sight of a few young people who can trust God in this way is always a catalyst for change. Like Shadrach, Meschach and Abed Nego faced with Nebuchadnezzar’s blazing furnace, they will not bend to the pressures of the day, but they will trust God, whatever the consequences! This is the kind of young people we will see arising out of the mess that most church leaders have produced!
It will not take long for this group to be front page news – Christian young people make a stand! – such a stand will amaze others for various reasons; some will be very angry, while others will want to find out more; and so their testimony will grow exponentially. Within a month or so, they will be holding large scale meetings and thousands will gather and hear the word of God, as they should.
How can I be so sure about this? Simply because it has all happened before, many times. It has happened here in the UK. It’s happened in Nigeria. It’s happened whenever and where ever revival has broken out; a few young people get really desperate and are prepared to trust God and let Him do the rest. It is also normal for young people to lead in times of revival! Be assured, revival, a major revival will happen before the Lord Jesus comes again; He will call a glorious Bride to Himself and leave Antichrist pick up the pieces of a shattered and demoralised world population. But who will stand today? Who will start praying now, ready for that evil day when those young men and women will stand. They all will be the ‘sons and daughters of God’ and they will build Christ’s Kingdom and demolish the Kingdom of Darkness once more! Let’s get praying!