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To the Leaders of the Church's Future

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To the Leaders of the Church's Future

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I’d like to talk about one very important forward step that we are taking in the building of the long-term future ministry of the Church. This is the ministry that will be leading our children and their children. It is a vital step in carrying on the commission of Jesus Christ to make disciples and care for them.

We have hired a number of elders over the past five years to pastor churches. They have helped to stabilize the local congregations, and their service is greatly appreciated.

But as we look to the future, we see a great need for younger men and their spouses to be trained for the ministry. Men who will be able to serve in the Church for 30 years or more.

Many of the pastors who are presently contemplating retirement have served 40, 50 or more years. Several more will be retiring this year, and that process is going to actually accelerate in the next few years.

As part of the process of finding men who can serve in this special calling, we have also given attention to the wife. She will be at his side, will have her own network in the Church, and have a high degree in the responsibility of the relational infrastructure of the congregations.

We have chosen six couples from a pool of 200 names given us upon recommendation from pastors, elders, members and peers. This is the same pattern that we have emulated for decades in training new men for the ministry, and is one of the main reasons why Ambassador College was established in the middle of the 20th century.

The training process will be one that has scriptural precedent and examples. It involves teaching and hands-on mentoring—much in the same way as Moses did Joshua, Elijah did Elisha, Christ did the 12 apostles, and Paul did Timothy.

The six couples will work with experienced pastors in the U.S. field ministry. These couples are men and women of the highest integrity and wisdom and live a life that shows Jesus Christ living His life in them. They are well spoken of by others and have caring hearts.

Late this summer we will hold a residency program here in Cincinnati to drill them in some vital functions and procedures for doing the work of a pastor. A pastor watches over and can heavily influence the lives of the brethren in his congregation. Is he building a solid building in peaceful times with gold, silver and precious stones to withstand the heat of trial? Or will his work be burned up in fiery trial if he builds with wood, hay and stubble (1 Corinthians 3:12-13 1 Corinthians 3:12-13 [12] Now if any man build on this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; [13] Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.
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Our staff of pastors who will work with them in this residency program have served 40 or more years in this role. They will hold teaching sessions, speaking and Bible study simulations and counseling sessions. The program will be geared to accelerated learning, correction and performance.

This is very reminiscent of the training that many of us received when we started in the ministry a long time ago. It helped us learn. We are confident that it will train this first group as well as groups of young trainees to follow.

Please pray for our young new leaders. We are thankful for their sacrifice and pioneering spirit.