Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The great need for equipping, especially in ministers

The longer I am in ministry, the more I am convinced of the absolute necessity of equipping Christians for ministry. I just came from giving a missional church seminar in the town of Odessa, Missouri. It was clear that the church was made up of great hearts, and they really want to reach out. They simply haven't really fully known how to do this. The same is true at High Pointe. The people here have great hearts--they simply need equipping, training, and encouragment.

This equipping and training is the role of church leaders. Paul says that God gives"gifts" to the church such as evangelists, shepherds, and teachers to equip people for service (Eph. 4:11). While this is important in smaller congregations, it is probably even more essential in a large congregation. For example, I bemoan the fact that in a congregation the size of High Pointe, I cannot greet every visitor that comes through the doors. While I can reach a greater number of people through preaching and teaching, proportionally, on a relational level, I am spread three times as thin as I was at Liberty because the church here is nearly three times larger.

During my trip to KC, I got to see Matt and Kevin, two good friends from Liberty. When I was a minister there, I spent time with these guys--going to eat, going to civic clubs together, working on various projects. They are both on the outreach team now at Liberty, and are continuing much of the work there. They both came out to the missional church seminar, and we crammed in a bit more personal training as well. Equipping involves both strengths and Spiritual gifts assessments, as well as personal time with future leaders.

All Christian leaders need to be involved in equipping. In regards to paid ministers, I once had a professor descibe it this way. There are three tiers of people that you can hire.
  • 1st Tier - You can hire someone to do a job. So you pay someone to run a ministry, like youth. This position is then limited by what one person can do.
  • 2nd Tier - You can hire someone to do a job and equip others to do this job as well. So you hire someone to do youth ministry, who also can build up other youth-type leaders.
  • 3rd Tier - You can hire somone to do a job and to equip people who can equip others (equip the equippers). In this case, there is a tremendous multipying affect.

In a large church especially, it is essential to hire the third tier kind of person.

Have you ever had a church seek to equip you on a personal level?

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

James,
What a great message. This is absolutely correct in every way. The outreach that is going on at Liberty is exciting and I LOVE being a part of it. As to your question about having someone try to equipe me personally.... YES! I have had the blessing of being taught first hand by several people in the church how to best use the spritual gifts God has given me. Each time someone has taken time to teach or even encourage me, I have found myself growing in my faith. Not only that but I feel more empowered to reach out and share or teach or serve others. Thanks James for helping me to discover my own passion for reaching out and encouraging me to use my gifts. I know that the family at High Pointe will see amazing things start to happen when they start equiping others for outreach and service to the community.
Kim S

James said...

Kim,

I am so glad that you are loving outreach! You certainly have a great gift in this area. As you mention, personal encouragement is essential in growing Spiritually. Keep encouraging others to discover their gifts and for the equippers to keep equipping people.