Sunday, July 31, 2005

Searching for Moses

Anyone who has read the August 2005 edition of 'Evangelicals Now' will have read Dr Stanley Jebb's excellent article on the training of those young men called to the ministry. Having been under his pastorship and ministry I know that he holds exactly the same view as I, that going to Bible College or seminary isn't neccesarily the best choice for training - rather that church pastors should identify those young men called and train them up themselves. Dr Jebb says;

"It is my conviction that more could be done to train men in the local church, and this has been borne out in experience. Colleges often lack the personal touch which is vital for training men effectively and the fact that the local church is the best place to learn about pastoral work".

However I have been "under" 3 pastors since Dr Jebb left the church in Dunstable; his successor, the church I attended in Birmingham and the church I have left unavoidably here in Bristol and none of the pastors have had any interest whatsoever (that I could discern) in training up young men in the ministry. Indeed I did my best to get close to them and learn and found it an almost impossible task. I don't think my experience is unique from talking to other young men and friends of mine who have left Dunstable and also experienced Dr Jebb's superb ministry. This testimony from Dr Ern Baxter echoes the cry of my heart;

"And there came to our city – I went to church of course with my parents – and there came to our city a man whom I would now call an apostle. And he came to visit the church where we were and he brought with him a very brilliant pianist who had been helping him in his church planting efforts. But this pianist was going to have to leave him for various circumstances that I won’t recall. This man heard me play the piano because my parents had invited him to our home for our evening meal. My father who was very proud of my accomplishments said, “Son sit down and play a song and sing it for us”. And I remember I sat down and played ‘Old Man River’ and accompanied myself on the piano. And this man was sitting there and he said, “I need a pianist – I need someone to travel with me and play the piano – would you be interested?”. Of course I was in a spiritual euphoria of sorts, which as I look back on it is difficult for me to recapture but everything was new and wonderful. And I said I would be interested. Now these were Depression days – days of 1928 and so on.

And this was about 1932 so on May 4th 1932 I had packed up my little bag (I didn’t have many possessions) and I got on the train and I joined this man in a Canadian city called Yorktown. I started to play the piano for the meetings and sing solos. We met in a tent at the time and I helped with the seating and so on. That was May. In the early part of July we finished up at a large conference. I was asked to be one of the pianists and I played the piano" -
Life on Wings interviews - emphases mine.

It has provoked the question in my mind as to who bears the responsibility to see this Moses/Joshua relationship come to pass? I remember reading Terry Virgo's account of his meeting and forging such a special bond with David Holden and he said their letters crossed in the post!! ("No Well Worn Paths"). I tried that with another pastor I greatly respected in London and yet again he didn't feel the same.

I was at the Westminster Conference in December 2001 where Dr Jebb was speaking, and one of the sessions was actually about this issue. The discussion afterwards was fascinating to listen to, and Dr Jebb participated strongly in support of this viewpoint - the conclusion to the discussion was; "Where are the young men?". My response is; "Where are the fathers?".

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