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Training Others in the Gospel (It Takes a Church)

By Eddie Moody


As a kid, when another child was behaving badly, my mother would often say something like, “Poor kid, he hasn’t had any training!” She made two points with her statement. First, don’t do that. Second, don’t judge others; we would all be there without the proper training.

The Bible says much about training. Parents are to train their children (Deuteronomy 6:7; Proverbs 22:6; 23:13-14; 29:17; Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21), the Church is to train leaders (Titus 2), and Christians are to train others in the faith (Matthew 28:19). The tool for training is the Bible (Romans 15:4; 2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Sometimes, I hear echoes of my mother’s words when I read God’s comments to Jonah at the end of his book. When referring to Nineveh God told Jonah, they “cannot discern between their right hand and their left” (Jonah 4:11). Why? Because they had not had any training and did not know better.

Every day, it seems our world becomes a little crazier due to an overall lack of training. Every day in the United States, 2,362 babies are aborted [1] perhaps because of a lack of training about the value of human life. Confusion about gender is increasing,[2] which could be reduced through training about how to deal with our culture. Similar confusion exists over what constitutes a marriage. For example, about half of Gen Z and Millennials say same-sex marriage is good for society. [3] There is delusion about humanity. Increasingly, more people see humans as no more important than animals. [4] A rising group of people even argue that having children is morally wrong. [5] When we feel anger at people who believe such things, I hear God’s words to Jonah. How can they know if they have not been trained?

I fear we view these as someone else’s problems. Yet, Free Will Baptists have our own training issues. Consider, in 1985 we had 4,458 ordained ministers; in 2019 that number had fallen to 3,000. In 1985, we had 5,666 deacons; in 2019 only 3,145. In 1985, we had 589 licensed ministers; in 2019 only 386 were licensed. Have we trained our people in the value of ministry and the service of the Lord? It appears we have had a training breakdown, just like the rest of the U.S. We see this reflected in the downward spiral in Sunday School enrollment from 163,335 in 1985 to 55,977 in 2019. [6]

For some time now, other things have become more important than training: entertainment, leisure, and much more. Less training has not led to better results. Training impacts everything—the quality of life, the health of a church, and the length of a person’s life, or even eternal life. It does little simply to bemoan the situation, especially since we have so many good training role models. Let us examine some and get busy training!


Train Young Children

Perhaps the most encouraging model of training in Scripture is Jochebed’s training of Moses. Jochebed found herself in the middle of a corrupt culture where children were being murdered daily (Exodus 1:15-22; 2:2-3). She had limited time with Moses under stressful conditions, yet she trained him effectively (Exodus 2:9-10).

What did Jochebed teach him? First, she taught him who he was—his identity. We find this in the book of Exodus (which Moses wrote), Stephen’s account in Acts 7:23, and again in Hebrews 11:24-27. Moses chose to identify with Israel. It appears Jochebed also trained Moses about the value of people. When Moses observed an Israelite being beaten (Acts 7:24-25) and a later incident at the well we see him standing up for the oppressed (Exodus 2:16-17).

How did Jochebed do it? It is good to remember it was Moses who wrote Deuteronomy. Randall House has instilled in us the power of Deuteronomy 6:4-6. This is our prescription, our formula for training children. We train them everywhere and constantly—in the morning, throughout the day, and at night. It works.

Scripture is full of other examples of godly parents training their children. We must follow their examples and learn to take every opportunity for reading, talking, and sharing the gospel with children, even before they learn to talk. These biblical role models started when their children were very young and made every moment count.

The church also has a role in training children as we interact with them in the nursery and toddler classes. When a child attends the same church regularly throughout childhood, relationships are developed that will help carry them safely into adulthood.


Train School Age Children

A model for training school age children is found in the story of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. The only information we have about their parents is the names they gave their boys (Daniel 1:6). Yet, each name is significant: Daniel (God is judge), Hananiah (God has been gracious), Mishael (Who is what God is?), and Azariah (God is help).

From the rest of the story, we can also deduce these parents provided biblical training to their children. They taught them who God was, what He could do, and the relationship one could have with Him. They taught them to live without defiling themselves (Daniel 1:8), to put God first in their lives (Daniel 3:16-18), and to follow the spiritual discipline of prayer (Daniel 6:9-10). They helped their children become psychologically mature (Daniel 2:13-15). In other words, as young men they were capable of handling the pressure of a challenging culture and environment. They also understood the value of work and excellence (Daniel 1:20; 5:12; 6:3).

How did these parents do this? We don’t really know. Perhaps we get a hint from Mordecai’s training of Esther. Mordecai’s instruction to Esther about not revealing her ethnicity was a specific instruction about dealing with the challenges of the corrupt environment of the palace (Esther 2:10). Perhaps the parents of the young Hebrew men also taught them how to apply Leviticus 11 and Exodus 20 to various situations. We, too, must train our children to keep their bodies pure, avoid harmful substances and addictions, and deal with people antagonistic to the faith.

In the case of Mordecai, we see monitoring and follow up, when he checked on Esther in a very dangerous time when she was part of a harem (Esther 2:11). When needed, he prodded her to do what was right (Esther 4:14). We should also follow up on young people when they go off to college, serve in the Armed Forces, or begin a new job.

This is the role of parents, but the church has a role to play as well. As children get older, their parents lose influence upon them. For this reason, it is critical children be tied into the local church. Indeed, the data tell us long-term faith is tied to six or more adult mentors. [7] In addition to a youth leader, Sunday School teacher, and other adults, we need youth to build relationships with numerous Christian adults. When youth are involved in a church, the mentoring process becomes natural. [8]

Today, youth are struggling because they lack adults who mentor them. In fact, it is estimated one in three young people grow up without a single adult mentor, placing them at risk for a myriad of problems. [9] The church can reverse this.


Train Young Couples

A model for training young couples is provided in Titus 2. Paul says older men are to train younger men, and older women train younger women. In what should they train them? How to be a good spouse, parent (Titus 2:4-5), worker (2:9-10), and to live pure lives (Titus 2:12). All are key components for success. How can this training be done? Paul assumes couples across generations will interact. Informal training can take place over a meal, leisure outings, or during special projects like home improvement. The church also can arrange this through more formal marriage-mentoring models in which an older couple takes a younger couple under their wings and discusses crucial issues such as budgets, intimacy, and child rearing practices. Much of this mentoring happens naturally when a couple becomes part of a Sunday School class or small group. As members “do life” together, they do not have to face life challenges alone.

Today, much is said about the marriage failures of evangelical Christians. In fact, areas with the most evangelical churches have the highest divorce rates in the United States. [10] Evangelicals have some of the highest divorce rates, and atheists claim some of the lowest divorce rates. [11] Paul warned Titus if deliberate training did not take place, this would happen (Titus 2:5, 8). However, couples who attend church together on a regular basis have stronger relationships and happier marriages. [12]


Training in Discipleship

Another good discipleship model is the way Barnabas trained Saul (later Paul). Barnabas was a giver (Acts 4:36-37) who was not afraid to get involved in the lives of others (Acts 4:36-37; 12:25). He introduced Saul to other Christian leaders, and undoubtably Saul learned from Barnabas as they ministered together (Acts 13-22). Eventually, Paul succeeded Barnabas in the ministry. Today, this would be like serving in ministry with someone who eventually replaces you or goes on to another ministry. For pastors and other church leaders, it includes taking along others to share the gospel, minister to the sick, or attend associational meetings and activities like the Leadership Conference and National Convention.

We must take every opportunity to engage in training the next generation of faithful leaders. This requires a shift in attitude and attention. This requires working together and using the tools God has provided. Deliberate training will have a major impact on children, couples, future leaders, and our churches. We often say we are better together. It is true. But we aren’t better together until we work together for the future of the church. Let us work together to train others with and for the gospel.

About the Author: Dr. Edward E. Moody, Jr. is executive secretary of the National Association of Free Will Baptists. Find more training resources:


1 National Right to Life Abortion Statistics: factsheets/FS01AbortionintheUS.pdf

2 R. Kaltiala-Heino, H. Bergman, M. Työläjärvi, & L. Frisén. Gender dysphoria in adolescence: current perspectives. Adolescent Health, Medicine, and Therapeutics, 9, 39-41 (2018).

3 K. Parker, & R. Igielnik. On the Cusp of Adulthood and Facing an Uncertain Future: What We Know About Gen Z So Far. Pew Research Center. (May 14, 2020):

4 Human Lives are Not More Important than Animal Lives. Outdoor Journal. June 8, 2016:

5 T. Rieder. Science proves kids are bad for Earth. Morality suggests we stop having them. NBC News:

6 See 2021 Digest of Reports and Free Will Baptist Yearbooks, 1985-2018.

7 D. Nuesch-Olver. Don’t Make Jesus Cry. Journal of Youth Ministry, 4 (1), 99. 2005.

8 J. Lanker. The Family of Faith: The Place of Natural Mentoring in the Church’s Christian Formation of Adolescents. Christian Education Journal. 2010;7(2):267-280.

9 The National Mentoring Partnership:

10 J. Glass, & P. Levchak. Red states, blue states, and divorce: Understanding the Impact of Conservative Protestantism on Regional Variation in Divorce Rates. American Journal of Sociology 119 (4):1002-46. 2014.

11 A. Cline. August 7, 2015. Atheism and Divorce: Divorce Rates for Atheists are Among the Lowest in America: Why do conservative Christians defenders of marriage get divorced more often? Accessed at:

12 W. B. Wilcox, & N. H. Wolfinger. Better Together: Religious Attendance, Gender, and Relationship Quality. February 11, 2016. Institute for Family Studies. Accessed at


©2022 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists