I was talking to a youth pastor a few weeks ago, and he told me about a couple he knew personally that was wondering about finding a new church to attend. They’d been Christians for more than twenty years. They weren’t being fed at this particular church anymore, they said.

For any Christian who has been around for any length of time, this isn’t a new complaint. Our typical response is to pray for the Lord to help such people find a better church, one that has better preaching or a better program. However, this is the question I asked this youth pastor: “How long do you have to be a Christian before you’re qualified to disciple others and meet together?”

I know this is a radical question, although it really shouldn’t be, should it? How much truth do you need to acquire? How many years does it take to get squared away doctrinally?

Think about this for a moment. Jesus’ twelve disciples had been with Him three years. Although they knew the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings (what we now call the Old Testament), they knew very little about what we might call New Testament doctrine. They were in process, I guess we could say.

They were what we would call laymen today. But they did know Jesus Himself and had heard Him teach, seen Him minister with spiritual power to the least and take on religious leaders. So, in spite of their inadequate theological training, Jesus told them to “go and make disciples.”

Looks like Jesus thought that knowing Him, spending three years with Him and having the assistance of the Holy Spirit, which He promised was going to come, were sufficient qualifications for making disciples and starting churches.

Later on, Paul listed the qualifications for elders/pastors, which really aren’t extraordinary. When you read them, you find that the only thing that differentiates a morally upright and mature Christian man from an elder/pastor is the ability to teach.

What has changed from that day to this?

So, here’s the question again: How long do you have to be a Christian before you’re qualified to disciple others and meet together?