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How to know when newcomers, whether apparent superstars or humble servants, are ready for church office.

New members should become church leaders as soon as possible-or so I once thought. When Matt first came to our church, he was a young man hungry for spiritual nourishment and Christian fellowship, and the church's younger adults promptly included him in their activities.

He was good looking, intelligent, and "brought up well." Even beyond that, people soon recognized he was one of a kind. He came from a family prominent in civic and academic circles, with a father nationally known in his field, and Matt seemed poised to make his own mark (he was in the process of completing a doctorate).

Although not believers, his parents had sent Matt to a Christian boarding school, where he heard the gospel. By the time he came to us, he was growing toward an evangelical faith.

We took care not to be intimidated by or draw attention to Matt's background; we simply included him in our fellowship. He responded with an eager willingness to work. The summer after joining us, he was baptized, and by the following ...

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