What becomes the role of those God has used in planting an assembly?

What becomes the role of those God has used in planting an assembly?

The assemblies in Crete were apparently exposed to the attacks of those who contradicted sound doctrine (Titus 1:9). Paul was concerned that the men who led the flock would be able to stand against such men and thus preserve the assembly for which they were responsible. Titus had a part to play in this by his teaching (2:1), but the goal was that each assembly would have men within it who possessed this capability. The role of those who plant and nurture a young assembly is to so strengthen that assembly that it will be able to function and flourish without him (or them). In speaking to the Ephesian elders, Paul makes it clear that this is also the Spirit’s goal (Acts 20: 28-32). Remarkably, God is able to accomplish this despite the native characteristics, even of Cretans (Titus 1:12).

The instruments the Spirit is using in this work need sensitivity so they neither rush ahead of the Spirit’s working nor lag behind it. Circumstances differ and the rate at which this good work progresses differs from case to case. Those who are not familiar with a particular work may not be fitted to understand the timing of the Spirit’s work. Nonetheless, the goal remains the same.

Paul speaks of himself as having a role like a mother (1Th 2:7) and a father (v 11) in the development of the Thessalonian assembly. Parents work toward the day when their child will be able to function on his own and make choices consistent with the truth they have taught him. Some parents can so control a child that they limit his maturing. Sometimes parents step in too quickly when they see some unsteadiness in their mature child. Eventually, parents must trust the power of the principles they have instilled in their child and commit him to God in prayer. They trust God’s power and wisdom to continue the training required. Epaphras certainly practiced this (Col 4:12, 13).

David Oliver