Sounds of laughter and joy fill the air. Wet clothes are abandoned for dry ones. Perhaps prayers and singing erupt. Someone has travelled down the road to finally rely upon Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Goal achieved?
Paul reminds us that the race is not over yet. For that person who has led another to Christ, his words suggest conversion is not the end. Ministry has only begun.
This apostle points the way forward for a thriving church. His ministry focus went far beyond bringing others into a right relationship with God, as his letter to Timothy reveals.
“I know the one in whom my faith is set and I am convinced that he is able to protect what has been entrusted to me until that day. Hold to the standard of sound words that you heard from me … Protect that good thing entrusted to you, through the Holy Spirit who lives within us. … And entrust what you heard me say in the presence of many others as witnesses to faithful people who will be competent to teach others as well” (2 Timothy 1:12,13,14; 2:2 NET).
Ministry should arise above just passing along a baton in a relay race. Concern should also exist over whether the convert will become someone who will not only teach others, but train the third generation to themselves become reliable teachers.
Such a vision of ministry supersedes merely transferring the gospel to another. This vision embraces inspiring subsequent generations to also look far into the future.
Yet, how do the numbers break down? Out of all those who claim to be disciples, how many obey the command to teach about their Lord? From this smaller number who do pass along the message, how many are concerned about raising their converts’ vision to become teachers who will both faithfully pass along the message as well as train their students to ensure that those they teach become competent teachers as well?
2 Timothy 1:12-2:1 contains many important messages for the church today. Certainly one of them is that if we are passing along God’s message, we also need to be training the second generation to become people who both will be training the third generation to also be faithful teachers. Such a view of ministry takes the long view, a healthy view.