I'm going to read this to you guys and then you guys tell me how you'd counsel this guy. And look, in a lot of these, it's not that there's necessarily a perfect answer, I'm just wanting you to think and be discerning and think Scripturally, seek to apply the Scripture. So you have this guy Alex. "Hi Pastor Tim, I'm currently serving as a youth leader in my church. My first question is: It seems like every time I teach the youths they don't seem serious about it. I mean, they actually did tell me that they like me much better than the previous youth leader. They also told me that they prefer to listen to me teach over the elders in the church apparently because the teachings of the other elders are somewhat always the same but worded differently. That I have to admit as I feel that sermons on YouTube give me much more growth than the sermons I hear at my own church. I don't say this to boast, but rather to just give you more information. I really do spend a lot of time in making sure the messages I create are practical and biblically sound. However, I just feel like if the people I'm teaching are not really serious about applying what is being taught should I continue teaching those people? To add, I'm teaching youths that are ages 15-19. My second question is that I've always been somewhat of a self-taught person in a sense that when I first became a follower of Jesus I never had a Paul the same way Timothy did. Everything I learned was just strictly based on personal Bible reading, reading Christian books, watching sermons, and of course, my own personal experiences. Now of course, I believe I was guided by the Holy Spirit in my learning, but I've always desired a mentor who could actually guide me in my walk, but I feel no one in the church could be that person. Most of the elders of my church seem too busy and no one ever offered to train me in some way before I was asked whether I wanted to teach at the church. I'm like the only 25 year old in my church. No one else in my age range. The other youths aged 15-19 are not really serious about their walk. I just feel like sometimes I'm not growing the way I'm supposed to, and I sometimes question whether I'm qualified simply because I'm not trained the same way a person like Timothy was perhaps trained by Paul. My question is, is it right for me to continue serving as a youth leader even though I'm not really growing the way I feel I should be growing? And also because I may not have the appropriate training that a youth leader should probably have?" So there you have it. What do you tell a guy like that? James: He said, "my messages are practical." I think that's not what the kids need. He says they're not really serious about applying it. Well, probably because they're not born again, so I think he needs to change what he's saying to the kids. They're not serious about their walk. Why is that? And he can give practical messages all day to a bunch of goats and they won't want to apply it. He's got a great evangelistic opportunity. Tim: Yeah, that's definitely a thought I had. I mean, I would look at a situation like this or like any situation that we get in in our life. And I would begin to ask questions. You need to consider your options. You're in a situation like this. What are the options? What are the options? Tell me. What are some of the options this guy has? (from the room): Leave? Tim: He could leave. He could quit teaching. He could quit having a problem with elders that are too busy. I mean, look, the reality is I don't know the guy writing. He could be in a wonderful church and all the problems could be him. One of the problems not knowing people is when they email in. You know, one of the things that you recognize is he's not dialoguing with his own pastors on this. The Internet is a very convenient place to vent your frustrations because you're not eyeball to eyeball with people and you're not eyeball to eyeball with people who know you. And so, it's pretty easy. It's pretty easy to slant things the way that you're almost calculated to get the kind of answer that you want to hear. And so, we recognize that when we get these questions. We recognize that we're getting one person's opinion of a situation. But I would say, yeah, what are the options? One option - probably the most radical option - you just leave it all. Go to a different church. He could do that. I mean, he could do that. If he feels like, well, one, he's the only 25 year old if he wants to go where there's other people his age. Two, if he feels like the whole youth group is basically uninterested, and it sounds like he's even wondering whether he's called to teach or whether he's qualified to teach. It sounds like he's got elders at least that he feels are too busy if that's really the case. He could put all those thing together and he could say, maybe this isn't the best place for me to be. What's probably the minimally difficult or radical decision that he could make? Yeah, do nothing. You know, when people are faced by problems, by difficulties in life, you could do nothing. But what are a number of other possibilities? One is what James said. That came to my mind that look, if I'm heading up - (incomplete thought) Maybe one of the problems here is that this guy is like a lot of the Christian realm out there - professing Christian realm - is you basically assume everybody's a Christian that says they're a Christian. You know, when you watch "Logic on Fire" one of the things that they say about Martyn Lloyd-Jones when he went to Westminster - he did not assume that everybody sitting in the pews was converted. So many of his messages were extremely evangelistic and he saw many of the people converted. And I think if you're discerning and it sounds like he's discerning - he's at least able to recognize that these young people don't seem very enthused. It seems like he's recognizing that there's very little commitment on their part. And so, yeah, I think James is right. Basically what it sounds to me is that he's dealing with a whole youth group of lost kids. And so if you recognize that, like James said, it's a huge opportunity. What an opportunity for this guy to say, hey, you know what? I need to stop trying to deal with these people like they're Christians, and giving them these Christian messages, and really learn what the Gospel is and preach that to them. Now as far as being qualified, I don't know that. I don't know how to answer that because I don't know the guy and I've not been exposed to his gifts. I don't know where his Christianity is. I don't know where his maturity level is. (from the room) I'm wondering, he sounds pretty mature. But I'm wondering, I've never been on a mission, but I'm thinking maybe I would have the same questions if I was on a mission and thinking "am I qualified?" But maybe I am qualified, you know? I just need to push myself harder or maybe I'm not qualified. You know, I'm guessing that's probably some of the questions you would struggle with if you're out on a mission or doing things of this nature. Tim: Well, let me ask you this. Do you know what was involved in Paul selecting Timothy to go with him on his missionary endeavor? Do you remember that account when Timothy first shows up? He was well spoken of. Do you remember which churches? Anybody remember the churches? Was it Lystra and Iconium? He was well spoken of by the brethren in those churches. How do we know? I mean, look, when you have the qualifications for elders, you see 1 Timothy set in the context of Timothy being at Ephesus. The church being the pillar and the ground of truth. What we recognize is that even Paul and Barnabas as supernatural as it was that the Spirit of God seemed to indicate some way to the church at Antioch that those two were sent forth, yet what we find is that they were two of the five prominent men in that church who were exercising their gifts in preaching and teaching. And my whole point here is this, even think with me about look out amongst yourselves and choose seven men who are full of the Holy Spirit. You know, when they were looking for men to serve the tables there in Acts 6. Look out among yourselves. They called the brethren to look out among themselves. And I think that the basic biblical pattern is that you have people tested in the community of the local church. Asking somebody far away through the website about whether you're qualified or not, really, we can't make that assessment. You could hear somebody say certain things that could convince you they're not qualified, but it's very difficult to tell from far away. The place for a person's gifts to be tested are right in the local church. The people who would best know whether this guy is qualified to do what he's doing would be his own elders. Now whether there's any incompetency on the part of his elders, I don't know. What thinking went into their minds before they put him in this position? And he seems to sense some inability to access these guys' time. But your own church would really be the place to say that. I mean, when we're talking about people doing Sunday School or we're thinking about elders or deacons or we're looking at the possibility of sending people overseas, and when it comes to church planting endeavors, when it comes to setting up preaching rotations to church plants that we've started, I mean, basically what is going to go into those decisions is the observations that we have made in two primary areas: One, character. Two, gift. Do they have outstanding character? And do they have the adequate spiritual gifts to do what we're asking them to do? And the place for both of those things to be proven is right in their own local church. Provenness is really the only way to figure out if somebody is qualified. Unless, of course, you get some supernatural - in some way, the Spirit of God said send Paul and Barnabas. Whether that came through a prophet, (incomplete thought) Maybe that's just a way of saying that it was confirmed through the church. Because the church is said to send them just as it says the Spirit sent them in Acts 13. We don't really know the mechanism God used there to communicate that, but typically, the way that we would look today is tested in the community of believers. So I mean, if I was in his position and I was having doubts, the first people I'd go to is the elders and say are you sure I'm qualified to do this, and I would have discussions with them about this. But like James said, I would take this as a huge evangelistic opportunity. I mean, if I had any burden to be teaching or any burden evangelistically, and suddenly when I become aware - maybe in the beginning I thought, hey, I'm going to have 15-19 year olds and they're all professing Christians and I come into it thinking that I'm dealing with young people who are Christians, and I want to talk to them about purity, but I recognize after awhile that they're just dead and they don't really care and they're not likely walking in purity anyway, and it just suddenly dawns on me that it's probably because they're all lost. You've got a bunch of young people that have made professions, been baptized. Now if that's true, I think that says something about the quality of the church in and of itself, if you've got a bunch of young people that have all been run through the baptismal waters and most of them are not converted or all of them are not converted, that says something about the discernment of the elders as well. And that would begin to make me question whether their discernment about putting me in that teaching position was necessarily good. But it is an opportunity to say, hey, I've got a room full of lost people and they're not responding well when I'm basically exhorting them with these Christian exhortations. Yeah, I think going right to the root of hey, you know what real Christianity looks like? And you know what I'm seeing? Most of you don't have it. Maybe all of you don't have it. You know, all of you are likely going to end up being like Matthew 7 says, saying "Lord, Lord," but in that day, you're going to hear, "I never knew you." (Incomplete thought) My suspicion is that if all these folks are baptized and the elders actually did that and you begin to scare the kids that way - cause their consciences to wake up - probably they would then think he wasn't qualified. But that would probably prove all the more that he is. And that would probably prove all the more that he's really in a bad church and he's got some bad leadership. But anyway. (from the room) I have a question. What role does consistency play in being a proven Christian? Or just other attributes that would contribute? Tim: Well, I mean, in 2 Timothy Paul specifically tells Timothy to look for faithful men. And we were just down in Mexico and the question came up about qualifications. People were wanting to know what does it take to go to the mission field? Look, we have different sorts of people that we use in our church. Some are like John Sytsma. They oversee a missionary team. Some are like Matt Wilkinson. He's church planting in Saltillo. But others are like Jenny who go as a missionary helper to Lebanon. (incomplete thought) Obviously when we're talking John and Matt, we're looking for men that are basically elder caliber. That's true of John. Whether we would say that's distinctly true of Matt, Matt never served as an elder in our church here at home, but we did lay hands on him in sending him forth as a missionary. But then we get missionary helpers. But I tell you this, in all of them - Craig just recently said when we're thinking about new teachers or revamping teaching - we've committed Sunday School classes to Craig now that he's an elder. And he told me, he said, I'm not putting anyone in the Sunday School rotation who doesn't come to the prayer meeting. And I would say amen, and I would not send anybody to the foreign mission field unless they were faithful in their attendance. Now look, I recognize if they've got Wednesday evening class or they're on a work rotation where they have to work every third Wednesday, or whatever that looks like, I recognize. But when people are flippant and they're not disciplined and they're not prioritizing the prayer meeting, I want people that are prayerful that are in any kind of ministry, any kind of leadership, any kind of teaching. We need prayerful people. We need faithful people. What does faithful look like? People that keep their word. People that come on time. People that if they're given a responsibility, they don't drop the ball. They're very meticulous about it. They're very conscientious. I mean, I remember one time we had committed the leading of music to a man, and he showed up at the church and didn't lead. And I looked at him, and he just decided he wasn't going to do it. I mean, that's dropping the ball. If you've got a Sunday School class, you're not just waking up on Sunday morning and putting together something in 20 minutes and running in. You're serious. You're going to give yourself to it. (from the room) So to be a proven Christian, you said consistency, faithfulness, maybe being tested. Tim: Well, when we talk about tested, I mean one of the things we're looking for is the character. Is there pride or humility? Purity? Their honesty? Their work ethic? Are they diligent in the Scriptures? Are they growing the knowledge of Scripture? Do they have a consistent walk with the Lord? Is it real? Is there reality in their life? Is there growth in their life? Is there a fear of God, a love of Christ? As far as gift, that's going to demonstrate itself. (Incomplete thought) Basically, what is a spiritual gift? A spiritual gift is not something somebody is naturally born with. It's something that the Spirit of God imparts to a believer. Now it may be consistent with physical giftedness, but it is the Spirit specifically enabling an individual to do something in a way that benefits and blesses and imparts grace to God's people. And the truth is it's like an evangelist. Somebody can call themselves an evangelist, but you know what, if you're not able to communicate the Gospel and actually see people's lives changed, I doubt you're an evangelist. A person can call themselves a preacher, but if they step in the pulpit and they're killing God's people every time they do it, yeah, they're in the pulpit preaching and they may call themselves a preacher, but are they a preacher? Well, God hasn't made them one. So that's the issue. Somebody can say they're merciful or somebody could say that they have a gift to lead. We can say all sorts of things, but the real proof is that when you seek to use that spiritual gift in the context of God's people, does God actually energize that? Does God use that so that God's people can say yes? Somebody can say my gift is mercy or I'm a comforter, I'm an encourager. But you go try to encourage people and they feel devastated by you. I really believe my wife has that gift because people say that after they talk to her. People don't typically say I have that gift and I probably would agree. I recognize. Now I have different ones, but that would not be the primary one or even one maybe. James: Sometimes you need to be devastated to be encouraged. Tim: Right. Right. Sometimes people need my approach and maybe even more often, they need Ruby's approach. But you know, I'm aware that when I teach and preach, people are helped. I'm also aware that when something needs to be dealt with really delicately, I'm not the guy with the gentleness to pull that off. And I will defer to my wife. There are times when getting counsel from Ruby about how to handle a matter beforehand is helpful because it's like sometimes it just doesn't register with me. Obviously, it's not a gift if it doesn't even register with me how to do that. I tend to be blunt and to the point. Anyway, we know what our gifts are because when we exercise them... (incomplete thought). So I think that that's key. You guys know this, as we've sought to test people as far as their preaching and teaching abilities, you've seen us sort through different people. You yourselves have sat there and you've been part of the body as we've sought to listen and evaluate. (incomplete thought) Teaching and preaching is prominent because it happens in the capacity that it does where you have an individual stand before others and seek to proclaim the truth of God's Word. But just as much when you have gifts of encouragement or mercy or leadership, serving gifts. So anything else on that?