Adoption is a wonderful word. People have been known to adopt a pet, a highway, a soldier, and of course a child. The adoption of a child provides an opportunity to change the future of the child and enrich the lives of the adoptive parents. Parents provide love, correction, training, and hope. The child provides an opportunity to create a legacy of one’s life. Adoption is a beautiful process that blesses the one giving as well as the one receiving.
The term adoption is used in describing the new relationship a believer has with the Lord, “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will” (Ephesians 1:5). Being adopted into God’s family is a blessed privilege and honor.
In a similar manner a young preacher or prospective preacher’s wife can be adopted (put under one’s wing) in training for the ministry. Often the success of a man of God can be traced to an older preacher who has taken a special interest in him while he was learning and growing into the ministry. Every older preacher will do well to single out a promising young man in which to invest his time and life for the sake of the ministry. This can be done by giving the young man responsibility in the ministry and an opportunity to preach and serve. Too often children are seen as too young to serve the Lord, and by the time they are old enough to do something for God they have lost their desire.
Some practical suggestions for preachers and Christian leaders include:
- Taking young men to preacher’s fellowships and conferences
- Meeting periodically for prayer
- Discussing the ministry over a meal
- Taking them with you on visitation
- Providing resources and ideas concerning the ministry
- Praying for God to use them
Making the effort to influence a young man can be seen in Scripture. Barnabas clearly mentored Paul and John Mark; Elijah influenced Elisha; and Moses prepared Joshua. These are only a few of the Bible examples of mentoring. The accomplishments of many preachers can be clearly traced to the influence of a wiser older preacher or a spiritual leader.
In addition to the mentoring process, every new church planter could take a young man who just graduated from Bible college under his wing. Even though a new church cannot afford to pay for an assistant pastor, it is an excellent opportunity for a young man to get in on the groundwork of a new church plant. If this young man will work a job and become a help to the new church, he will likewise receive valuable experience that will prepare him for a future church plant.
A new church is very different than an established mature church. A new church usually has new baby Christians and very few, if any, mature believers. Time is needed to establish believers in the faith, but a college graduate provides a model of true Christianity that is needed in the church family. Even though this opportunity is not full time, a new appreciation of the sacrifice of faithful members is gained.
This provides the church planter another helping hand and a loyal co-laborer. I would encourage every church planter to pray for God to provide a young man who can help in the starting of a new church.
“Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.” Matthew 9:37–38
This plan of reproduction not only aids the starting of a church, but it also provides a plan for starting other churches as well. A man who cuts his pastoring teeth in a new church plant will more likely consider starting a church himself.
Adoption can be a beautiful experience that blesses all who are involved. Why not adopt a young preacher and influence him for the future?