How do children learn what is important in life? In an ideal setting they learn by watching their parents. The things their parents emphasize and talk about and practice will usually make an impact on a child that they will carry with them through adulthood. If parents never talk finances with their children, chances are their children will make mistake after mistake and have a real struggle on their hands by learning from that institution of higher learning known as the UHK – The University of Hard-Knocks.
The same is true in ministry. Members will tend to value the things they see the ministers value. If the minister is a recluse who spends all his time in his office and has little contact or connection with others, members will learn that is what service looks like and will be ambivalent. Members learn from more than just the Sunday sermon. They learn from the actions of the ministers and staff. That means we need to be modeling healthy things. That also means that the things ministers value, speak about, and practice need to be passed on to others. We don’t do them in isolation but we bring people alongside us to help teach them how to minister in various ways. Equipping is one the most important tasks of ministry.
In Ephesians 4:11-16 Paul writes, “It was [Christ] who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Paul inextricably links discipleship with equipping. If we are to make disciples it will not be by giving them a bunch of good things to think about and believe (although that is part of it). It will be carried out in everyday life as we walk with people and allow them to walk with us. It will come through constant and consistent interaction with people we are trying to help be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. When you study the Bible with someone, bring someone with you who wants to learn how to do that. Not only does that person learn how to do a Bible study but the person you are studying with sees that when you are a Christian, this is something you learn how to do and actually practice.
We love to diferentiate ourselves from other groups by appealing to 1 Peter 2:5,9 that calls us a “royal priesthood” and we insist on the priesthood of all believers. We tend to emphasize those verses when we talk about prayer and how we don’t need any human to intercede on our behalf because we are all priests. That is only 1% of what Peter is saying. The rest of what he is saying is that there is more to being a priest than speaking to God. Priests have obligations and duties. They serve God and others with all of their lives. Somehow many have missed that part when it comes to the priesthood of all believers.
Back to the main point. Let us all try to equip others as we ourselves are still being equipped. It may take longer to get something done when you have someone with you who you are showing the ropes to but in the long run it will be time well spent. Paul names a wide variety of people – apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers but all have one common task – equipping. We have all received so much from godly men and women. Let’s pass it on!
What are some things you have done to help equip other Christians?