Who IS responsible to train and affirm those called into gospel ministry?

Answer…the local church.  It is the local church that God has appointed to be the agent to test, train, affirm, and send those called to be pastors and missionaries.  Because of this truth, the local church must embrace this enormous responsibility.  This call has been the responsibility of the church from the beginning, as we see the church in Antioch (Acts 13) embrace it.  The church in Antioch is a great example and picture of how the local church can better understand the external call in its relation to the local church in our day.  Luke accounts of Saul and Barnabas preparing to be sent on their first missionary journey.  Here is the scene given as the church sends them:

Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers: Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.  While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’  Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.  (Acts 13:1-3)                                       

The responsibility of the external call is centered on the local church, evidenced in the sole presence of the church at Antioch.  There were no seminaries or mission organizations. This is not to say that seminaries and mission organizations are not very helpful and ordained by God.  Nevertheless, in the early church the testing, training, affirming, and sending of pastors and missionaries were the sole responsibility of the local church and the pastors, leaders, and believers found within. 

Though this picture in Acts focuses on the affirming and sending of missionaries, supporting texts throughout the New Testament should cause us to conclude this same process for all those called into the gospel ministry.  Paul wrote to Titus and instructed him to, “Appoint elders in every city” (Titus 1:5).  Paul wrote to Timothy that, “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 Tim. 2:2).  This picture in Acts can also be seen in Timothy’s pastoral calling as Paul references other pastors laying hands on Timothy in affirmation of his gifts and calling (1 Tim. 4:14).  Regardless the type of gospel ministry, God has designed pastors and missionaries to be identified by pastors and affirmed by the local church.  

This is the main theses of my new book Test, Train, Affirm and Send into Ministry: Recovering the local church’s responsibility to the external call that should be in stock at Amazon in the next week or so.

Posted in Training for Ministry
4 comments on “Who IS responsible to train and affirm those called into gospel ministry?
  1. Absolutely, there is no doubt that the entire body is responsible to tain those called into ministry. Would love to review your book for my ministry and my blog.

  2. Anthony Bani says:

    I see what you are saying (in this blog post and the last), but what then are the implications of this for someone, like me, who is raising funds for my family to be on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ and is a member of a small church ASPIRING to be Antioch like, but is not there yet? Do I go to the elders and ask them for these things? Do I forsake the training provided by Campus Crusade (which is very good) and seek out a church to do it instead? Does everyone in a para-church ministry drop out and wait for churches to rise up to this?

    I’m not upset, just so you don’t mistake my tone. Just honest questions to stir the pot of discussion. I appreciate your honest straight forward answers. I don’t want to walk in folly, but by faith according to scripture. I’m thankful for this blog.

    • Brian Croft says:

      Thanks for your thoughts and asking a great question. No, for your situation I would not reject the training you have gotten and are getting through CCC. I have no doubt it has been good and helpful. I would just additionally include your local church in the process and allow them to play as much of a role in your ministry as they can handle. We are all in process to strive to be as faithful as Antioch. Submitting yourself to your local church (in addition to CCC) and their authority will push them to become a more faithful training, affirming and sending church.

      Press on brother in your ministry at CCC and thanks for the thoughtful question.

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