The American church has got talent, but let’s discover what it really needs.
There are a couple of heroes in the book of Acts that model for us what we need. This couple sat under the preaching of a dynamic speaker. But they realized he was missing something; namely, Jesus. (Or a full understanding of Christian baptism if you want to go that route.) So they took him under their wing. They loved him and taught him and then sent him back out.
The dynamic speaker was Apollos. And that precious couple was Priscilla and Aquila.
The American church has got talent but what we really need are more Priscillas and Aquilas. Think of all the Apolloses who are leading ministries. Great speakers. Knowledgeable. Passionate. Fervent. Gaining a following. Writing books. Headlining conferences. Missing something vital.
I’m reading an excellent book, The Mentoring Church, by Phil Newton. In the first chapter he outlines the goal of the mentoring relationship: being, doing, believing, teaching. He also outlines the method for doing this: doctrine, praxis and sending. Do you notice anything there? Doing is connected with praxis. Believing is connected with doctrine. And teaching is connected with sending. BUT there is nothing connected with being.
This isn’t an oversight on Newton’s part. He is correct. Being isn’t something you can teach in a seminary class or necessarily read in a book. It’s only crafted through…being. It’s forged in the context of a life lived out in the local church. You can’t fake it. You can’t test out of this one. It takes another person pouring the life of Christ into another person.
A New or Old Problem?
It is here, in my opinion, where the contemporary church is stumbling a bit. And I think it’s why we continue to see our leaders fall. Because being attaches to everything else and isn’t in its own category of attention it can be easily neglected, and often is neglected.
Connect this with our obsession with celebrity and you’ve got a ton of gifted people like Apollos who go on for quite a season without a Priscilla or Aquila in their lives. Something vital is missing. And because God is gracious and will relentlessly pursue us, it’s eventually going to come crashing down. The church might be fine with smoke and mirrors but our King isn’t.
This isn’t a new problem, though. We’ve been doing this for decades. So what we have now is Apollos training Apollos Jr. (or even a few generations further on down) for works of ministry. You won’t be shocked, then, to see that something vital continues to be left out of the training process. It’s a system that keeps going and keeps flopping but still perpetuates. One leader crashes and we figure we just need to go get a better leader, one who is crash proof. Then he crashes and burns too and we start over again. But maybe the problem is with the system.
A Way Forward
I would propose adding a couple of intentional steps in the stages of mentoring. I’m convinced that God always equips his local church. And one of the things he equips them with are Priscillas and Aquilas. So first, we need to pray that we would recognize folks with these gifts and be intentional about placing them in mentoring relationships.
Secondly, we should require solid biblical counseling for every person going into ministry. Biblical counseling isn’t just for those of us who are really messed up. It’s a process for helping people to think properly. It’s part of being. Every young pastor needs a relationship that falls into this category.
Thirdly, we absolutely must prioritize spiritual disciplines. And not spiritual disciplines as a necessary evil to keep you from wrecking your ministry. I tire of hearing things like, “We must pray so that…” No, we pray because that’s who we are. We read Scripture because that’s what disciples do. It’s part of our being. If we put this into the doing category we’re like the Titanic headed for an iceberg.
Jesus loves his church. He raises up Apolloses and Priscillas and Aquilas. But they need each other. Let’s not skip this precious step in our training.
This article originally appeared here.