In the near future I hope to be driving through several mountain states going northeast. The land is often full of beautiful farms. Tomatoes, beans, corn, squash, carrots, beets and nearly any other kind of vegetable you can think of, grow in just a few weeks. But I also love to see the Christmas tree farms. Depending on the type of tree and size desired, it can take from 10-15 years to grow a mature tree to harvest. You will wait 3-4 years after planting an apple tree to see your first apple and it will be 5-7 years before the tree is considered to be “in production.” Pine trees grown for lumber are farmed on 30 year plans or longer!
How long does it take to “grow” elders, deacons, preachers and good Bible class teachers? All of the men I studied under in college are deceased. Who has taken their places? Who will come after these are gone?
It’s clear that the Lord and his apostles were thinking about the future. Note the following verses and the highlighted parts. (Mat 28:19-20) “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you ...”
(2 Tim 2:2) And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
(2 Pet 1:15) Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease.
You heard someone say recently that money does not grow on trees. Neither do church leaders! Those who are presently serving the church will someday lay those burdens down. Long before that happens, others will need to be picking up the slack, and the “lag” time is significant. “New elders” are not seasoned leaders ready for all the heavy lifting the instant they are appointed. Look around the church at the “young trees.” Who do you see working now to be ready for service in 5-10-20 years?
Teaching the word of God and overseeing local churches are duties that must continue to be taken on by successive generations. The preparation for such tasks takes a lifetime. Set those goals right now!
- Tim Orbison