The Multiplying Affect: 2 Timothy 2:2
“The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” 2 Timothy‬ ‭2:2‬
As we look at this verse, we discover the leadership development secret of the early church. Disciple making was practiced extensively. Men like Paul were constantly mentoring and training others who in turn poured themselves into other faithful men who did the same thing. This resulted in a staggering multiplying affect.
But there was another dynamic to this verse that is often overlooked. These were times of intense persecution. The early church focused on disciple making in season and out of season out of urgency and necessity. Leaders were being martyred frequently by the time Paul wrote the book of 2 Timothy. They needed a dynamic multiplying affect.
According to Acts 2:42, the church was organized and structured around the goal of turning out gifted and mature believers. Every new believer was a prospect for future leadership.
Our modern western church model of meeting once or twice a week for worship, preaching and teaching would be viewed as very dysfunctional by the early church. So also the Bible College/Seminary model would be a foreign concept to them. It not only voids the church of its primary calling and purpose, it is also has no multiplying affect. It is expensive, slow and static.
Reducing spiritual teaching and training to a sterile institutional and academic environment was the approach of the Pharisees. It failed for many reasons. Jesus avoided that approach. He did not join the staff of the local Pharisee training college as a professor. He had no credentials.
But according to Acts 4:13, He turned out men who absolutely stumped the religious elite from the formal educational system of the day. His disciples spoke with confidence and conviction. God was also doing extraordinary things through them. (Note: The stage is set today within western Christianity for a similar tension and contrast between spiritual leaders.)
Jesus built His church around a radically different model than contemporary institutional religion of the day. He implemented the “make disciples as you go” approach. (See Matthew 28:19) Every believer was enrolled in the process. But how can this be practical?
I believe it was the natural extension of the home education system utilized by Timothy’s mother and grandmother mentioned frequently in the book of 2 Timothy. (See 2 Timothy 1:5 & 3:14-17) Paul picked up the training and mentoring of Timothy where his mother and grandmother left off.
They laid the foundation of basic education and biblical instruction. Paul imparted the practical ministry skills. It was a very effective and efficient approach. Timothy built on his biblical foundation by learning ministry by doing ministry with Paul. It is important to notice that Paul did not start from scratch with Timothy. (Note: Jesus benefited from the same home schooling system practice by Jewish families.)
Keeping the early church model of 2 Timothy 2:2 in mind, let’s take a giant leap forward in our thinking. “How can the church best prepare mature, gifted and trustworthy leaders and workers for the end times?” Let’s be honest, our current approach is failing for many reasons.
Here is a companion question; “How has the underground and persecuted church raised up its effective pastors and leaders during the last century?” I believe these two questions are interrelated. We must connect the dots in our thinking.
The answer relates to the same “as you go disciple making” model practiced by Jesus and the early church. They have developed a very intensional, strategic and intense process that they trust the Holy Spirit to orchestrate. They also make prayer and intimacy with God a priority.
Tragically, our Bible Colleges and Seminaries today are turning out some students who are professed agnostics. Others embrace even more alarming secular tendencies. Something is tragically flawed with our system.
By contrast, the church in China and other persecuted counties view a three year prison term of suffering for the faith as a seminary degree. No agnostic ever suffers for their belief system in this life!
In persecuted counties, recognized and approved pastors and leaders devote time to meet in secret settings to train others who in turn train others. They effectively adopt and adapt the 2 Timothy 2:2 model to their local situation.
Other more open but underdeveloped counties utilize pastor training conferences two or three times a year. I have been privileged to teach at these in numerous countries. God works in extraordinary ways during these condensed training venues. The approach is highly relational and the contend is screened to be very practical.
We need to ponder 2 Timothy 2:2 very carefully as we move forward. Difficult times are coming upon us quickly and they call for corrective measures.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global