I remember witnessing a situation in a church I attended years ago. A young man in his late twenties came to know the Lord in a dramatic and exciting way. I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone more on fire after meeting his Savior. And his enthusiasm was contagious.
But I was surprised when the board approved him as a Sunday School teacher only a few months after his conversion. I talked to the pastor who said they felt his enthusiasm was exactly what our stagnate congregation needed. Even though he was still a baby in the faith, and had much to learn himself, the board thought he would be “a shot in the arm” for our fellowship.
The young man began to teach the young married class. But it wasn’t long before he began to teach some things that were not consistent with Scripture. He’d latched on to a popular TV preacher whose message was full of partial truths. But being a babe in his faith, the young man didn’t recognize the error. Eventually, after one of our elders tried to mentor him in the Truth, the young man left the church and took two of the couples with him.
God instructed Moses that men 30-50 were to be given the responsibilities to serve in the Tent of Meeting. In Numbers 8:24 provisions are made for younger men to take part in the work, and Matthew Henry suggests they could be apprentices until age 30, when they would be given their official duties.
It’s believed Paul took some time in Damascus after his conversion before he began his preaching ministry. Some have it as long as three years, and believe he spent time with Christians, learning about his Savior, getting grounded in his faith.
The excitement of a newly saved person should energize our churches. Enthusiasm for the things of God is contagious. But let’s choose our leaders wisely. When we appoint teachers and hire pastors, we are placing on them a serious responsibility, a higher standard by which they are held accountable by God.
Paul sets out some guidelines in I Timothy and Ephesians for church workers. I think we would do well to follow them. And if what Matthew Henry says is true, giving time for a bit of maturity, is the Old Testament basis for serving, as well. Maybe insisting an enthusiastic babe in Christ hold on before tackling leadership positions is exactly what God has prescribed for a very good reason.
We are told to pray for those in positions of authority. (I Timothy 2:2) I’m pretty sure that’s a good thing to do for our church leaders as well as our government. Let’s all be faithful to do that.
And, mature Christian, maybe YOU are the shot in the arm your fellowship needs. Just a thought.