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Training Ministers of the Kingdom

Training Ministers of the Kingdom


How theocratic schools prepare Kingdom ministers to fulfill their assignments

1-3. How did Jesus expand the preaching work, giving rise to what questions?

 FOR two years, Jesus preached throughout Galilee. (Read Matthew 9:35-38.) He visited many cities and villages, teaching in the synagogues and preaching the good news of the Kingdom. Wherever he preached, crowds flocked to him. “The harvest is great,” Jesus observed, and more workers were needed.

2 Jesus arranged to expand the preaching work. How? By sending his 12 apostles “out to preach the Kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:1, 2) The apostles may have had questions about how to carry out this work. Before dispatching them, Jesus lovingly gave them something that his heavenly Father had given him​—training.

3 A number of questions now come to mind: What training did Jesus receive from his Father? What training did Jesus give his apostles? And what about today​—has the Messianic King trained his followers to carry out their ministry? If so, how?

“Just as the Father Taught Me, I Speak”

4. When and where was Jesus taught by his Father?

4 Jesus readily acknowledged that he was taught by his Father. During his ministry, Jesus said: “Just as the Father taught me, I speak these things.” (John 8:28) When and where was Jesus taught? His training evidently began soon after he​—God’s firstborn Son—​was created. (Col. 1:15) Alongside his Father in the heavens, the Son spent countless ages listening to and observing the “Grand Instructor.” (Isa. 30:20) As a result, the Son received a matchless education in the qualities, works, and purposes of his Father.

5. What instruction did the Father give the Son about the ministry that he would carry out on earth?

5 In due time, Jehovah taught his Son about the ministry that he would carry out on earth. Consider a prophecy that describes the relationship between the Grand Instructor and his firstborn Son. (Read Isaiah 50:4, 5.) Jehovah awakened his Son “morning by morning,” says the prophecy. That word picture conveys the idea of a teacher who wakes his pupil up early in the morning in order to teach him. One Bible reference work states: “Jehovah . . . takes him as it were into the school after the manner of a pupil, and teaches him what and how he is to preach.” In that heavenly “school,” Jehovah taught his Son “what to say and what to speak.” (John 12:49) The Father also gave his Son instruction on how to teach. a While on earth, Jesus put his training to good use not only by carrying out his ministry but also by training his followers to fulfill their ministry.

6, 7. (a) What training did Jesus give his apostles, and what did it equip them to do? (b) Jesus has made sure that his followers in our day have received what type of training?

6 What training did Jesus give his apostles, as mentioned at the outset? According to Matthew chapter 10, he gave them specific ministerial instruction, including the following: where to preach (verses 5, 6), what message to share (verse 7), the need to put their trust in Jehovah (verses 9, 10), how to approach householders (verses 11-13), how to handle rejection (verses 14, 15), and how to respond when persecuted (verses 16-23). b The clear training that Jesus gave his apostles equipped them to spearhead the work of preaching the good news in the first century C.E.

7 What about our day? Jesus, the King of God’s Kingdom, has given his followers the weightiest of assignments, namely, to preach “this good news of the Kingdom . . . in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations.” (Matt. 24:14) Has the King trained us to carry out this all-important work? Indeed, he has! From heaven, the King has made sure that his followers have received training on how to preach outside the congregation and how to fulfill special responsibilities within it.

Training Ministers to Be Evangelizers

8, 9. (a) What was the main purpose of the Theocratic Ministry School? (b) How has the midweek meeting helped you to be more effective in your ministry?

8 Jehovah’s organization has long used assemblies, conventions, and congregation meetings​—such as the Service Meeting—​to train God’s people for the ministry. Starting in the 1940’s, however, the brothers taking the lead at headquarters began to arrange for training by means of various schools.

9 Theocratic Ministry School. As we saw in the preceding chapter, this school began to be conducted in 1943. Was the objective of this school just to train students to give effective talks at congregation meetings? No. The main purpose of the school was to train God’s people to use their gift of speech to praise Jehovah in the ministry. (Ps. 150:6) The school equipped all the brothers and sisters who were enrolled to be more effective Kingdom ministers. Now such training is provided by means of the midweek meeting.

10, 11. Who may now be enrolled in Gilead School, and what is the objective of its curriculum?

10 Watchtower Bible School of Gilead. What is now called the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead began on Monday, February 1, 1943. The school was originally designed to train pioneers and other full-time servants for missionary service somewhere in the world field. But since October 2011, enrollment is limited to those who are already in some form of special full-time service​—special pioneers, traveling overseers and their wives, Bethelites, and field missionaries who have not yet attended the school.

11 What is the objective of the Gilead School curriculum? One longtime instructor answers: “To strengthen the faith of the students by means of a thorough study of God’s Word and to help them to develop the spiritual qualities needed to meet successfully the challenges of their assignments. Also, a fundamental objective of the curriculum is to instill in the students a more intense desire to share in the evangelizing work.”​—Eph. 4:11.

12, 13. What effect has Gilead School had on the worldwide preaching work? Give an example.

12 What effect has Gilead School had on the worldwide preaching work? Since 1943, over 8,500 individuals have been trained at the school, c and Gilead-trained missionaries have served in over 170 lands worldwide. The missionaries put their training to good use, setting a zealous example in the ministry and training others to do the same. In many cases, the missionaries spearheaded the work in areas that had few if any Kingdom publishers.

13 Consider what happened in Japan, where organized public preaching all but stopped during World War II. By August 1949, there were fewer than ten local publishers in Japan. By the end of that year, however, 13 Gilead-trained missionaries were busy preaching in Japan. Many more missionaries followed. At first, the missionaries concentrated their efforts on larger cities; later, they moved on to other cities. The missionaries heartily encouraged their students and others to join the pioneer ministry. The zealous efforts of the missionaries bore rich results. Now, there are over 216,000 Kingdom proclaimers in Japan, and nearly 40 percent of them serve as pioneers! d

14. Theocratic schools are powerful proof of what? (See also the box “ Schools That Train Kingdom Ministers.”)

14 Other theocratic schools. The Pioneer Service School, the Bible School for Christian Couples, and the Bible School for Single Brothers have helped those enrolled to develop spiritually and to take a zealous lead in the evangelizing work. e All these theocratic schools are powerful proof that our King has fully equipped his followers to accomplish their ministry.​—2 Tim. 4:5.

Training Brothers to Handle Special Responsibilities

15. Men in positions of responsibility want to imitate Jesus in what way?

15 Recall Isaiah’s prophecy that speaks of Jesus as being instructed by God. In that heavenly “school,” the Son learned “how to answer the tired one with the right word.” (Isa. 50:4) Jesus applied that instruction; while on earth, he refreshed those who were “toiling and loaded down.” (Matt. 11:28-30) In imitation of Jesus, men who serve in positions of responsibility want to be a source of refreshment to their brothers and sisters. To that end, various schools have been established to help qualified brothers to be more effective in serving their fellow believers.

16, 17. What is the objective of the Kingdom Ministry School? (See also the footnote.)

16 Kingdom Ministry School. The first class of this school began on March 9, 1959, at South Lansing, New York. Traveling overseers as well as congregation servants were invited to attend a month-long course. Later the course was translated from English into other languages, and the school gradually began training brothers worldwide. f

Brother Lloyd Barry teaching Kingdom Ministry School in Japan, 1970

17 Regarding the objective of the Kingdom Ministry School, the 1962 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses stated: “In this very busy world an overseer in the congregation of Jehovah’s witnesses must be a man who can organize his life so as to give the proper attention to all in the congregation and be a blessing to them. At the same time he cannot be a man who ignores his own family in favor of the congregation, but he must use the spirit of a sound mind. What a wonderful opportunity has been afforded the congregation servants throughout the world of coming together at the Kingdom Ministry School to get a training that will help them to do just what the Bible says an overseer should be able to accomplish!”​—1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9.

18. How do all of God’s people benefit from the Kingdom Ministry School?

18 All of God’s people have benefited from the Kingdom Ministry School. How so? When elders and ministerial servants apply what they have learned at the school, they, like Jesus, are a source of refreshment to their fellow believers. Do you not appreciate a kind word, a listening ear, or an encouraging visit from a caring elder or ministerial servant? (1 Thess. 5:11) Such qualified men are a real blessing to their congregations!

19. What other schools does the Teaching Committee supervise, and what are those schools designed to do?

19 Other theocratic schools. The Teaching Committee of the Governing Body supervises other schools that provide training for brothers in positions of responsibility within the organization. Those schools are designed to help responsible brothers​—congregation elders, traveling overseers, and Branch Committee members—​to become more effective in fulfilling their many responsibilities. The Bible-based courses encourage the brothers to maintain their own spirituality and to apply Scriptural principles in their dealings with the precious sheep that Jehovah has entrusted to their care.​—1 Pet. 5:1-3.

The first class of the Ministerial Training School held in Malawi, 2007

20. Why could Jesus say that all of us are “taught by Jehovah,” and what are you determined to do?

20 Clearly, the Messianic King has made sure that his followers are well-trained. All of the training has come from the top down: Jehovah trained his Son, and the Son has trained his followers. Hence, Jesus could say that we are all “taught by Jehovah.” (John 6:45; Isa. 54:13) Let us be determined to take full advantage of the training that our King has made available to us. And let us remember that the main purpose of all this training is to help us keep spiritually strong so that we may fully accomplish our ministry.

a How do we know that the Father taught the Son how to teach? Consider this: Jesus’ abundant use of illustrations in his teaching fulfilled a prophecy that was recorded centuries before his birth. (Ps. 78:2; Matt. 13:34, 35) Clearly, the Author of that prophecy, Jehovah, determined well in advance that his Son would teach by means of illustrations, or parables.​—2 Tim. 3:16, 17.

b Months later, Jesus “designated 70 others and sent them out by twos” to preach. He also gave them training.​—Luke 10:1-16.

c Some enrollees have gone through Gilead School more than once.

d For more details about the impact that Gilead-trained missionaries have had on the world field, see chapter 23 of the book Jehovah’s Witnesses​—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom.

e The latter two schools have been replaced by the School for Kingdom Evangelizers.

f Now all elders benefit from Kingdom Ministry School sessions that are of varying lengths and are held every few years. Since 1984, ministerial servants have also received training at this school.