I was recently talking with a brother whose teenage son was immersed into the Lord two months ago. He told me his son said his first public prayer in a church assembly just a week ago or so after having submitted to the Lord only recently. I was not surprised, though I do not know the young teen more than by simple acquaintance. However, I know this brother, and I know of his faith, and I know his wife, a sister also full of faith. And therefore I was confident of their family life. So, I was not surprised the young man was already immersing himself in the public assembly. Praise God!
Now to many religious institutions that are not of the Lord, this is not the normal. Even among many churches of Christ this may not be the normal. But among the congregations of the Lord’s people that practice and encourage the average brothers as the primary teachers of the body, this is certainly not uncommon. Young men begin sometimes early in their life as public participants in the meetings of the saints. They have watched their grandfathers, fathers, uncles, various brothers and even peers participate in active ways through prayers, song leading, public readings, serving the Lord’s Supper, and yes, even teaching and preaching. This is common among the churches who practice such.
Where does this spirit of service ideally begin? Does it begin at the teen or young adult years? Does it begin at the college level? No! Ideally it begins in the home. It begins at the kitchen table or in the living or family rooms. It begins in the privacy of their bedrooms as they study their lessons from the various classes in the assemblies. Yes, ideally it begins in the homes. I use the term “ideally” to point out there are exceptions. There are certainly those who do not have the blessing of growing up within the body of believers. They must learn these practices as adults, and they can certainly do so as they endeavor to serve in these public ways. But ideally it begins in the home.
It is worth noting that in some of the congregations I am trying to serve in my work this principle of mutual edification is new. Many of them are doing so out of necessity, for perhaps they do not have the funds to hire a man to do the work of the brothers. And there are certainly some congregations who have chosen to begin the work of the brothers publicly teaching and admonishing, and so they must start the process. Starting such a process can be a difficult transition, for they do not have the advantage of growing up and watching the previous brothers while knowing and expecting their turns will come as a natural result of time.
Yes, indeed, ideally this process begins in the home as fathers and mothers begin to groom their children for these responsibilities, even before birth. I have read studies that show unborn children reacting to positive spiritual environments from such activities as singing or praying or simply the great contentment and pleasure of a mother carrying her child with joy. What a great way to begin such training! Yes, indeed, God knows how to teach us to teach!