Bad grammar… legitimate question. So you’ve put on your equipping hat–you’re all about gifts discovery, you have your systems and structures in place, you are meeting with folks and successfully matching them to ministry opportunities. What for? What’s your motive… your purpose… the driving belief that keeps you focused and energized for the task?
If it has anything to do with filling the ministry roles of your church (inside and outside the walls), you are going to be disappointed. Why? Because you will never be able to fill all the ministry roles.
Believe it or not, I am an optimist–even if incognito at the moment–so before you hit that red X in the upper right hand corner of your screen, give me another minute or two.
Honestly, I have yet to run into anyone who has enough volunteers to meet all the serving opportunities of their church. Have you? It’s just the nature of the beast, I’m afraid. So, if that’s your goal–if that’s what motivates you to tackle the hard work of equipping people for ministry–disappointment and frustration are going to be your companions. However, it may be that we are missing something…
I think most of us who value good equipping practices do so because we are convinced that God has gifted and purposed each and every believer for ministry. Because many of the churches in our western world are self-focused, the motivation that drives equipping is to sustain ministries, developing new and hopefully better ones as the old programs run out their course. We present this in the context of innovative new methods for reaching the lost, and that may well be a sincere desire. Even with all the talk about being “externally focused” and “missional,” the drive behind equipping people is still about filling ministry roles.
I’m not yet willing to say that this is totally wrong, but I am interested in asking whether it is totally right. Are we in danger of turning equipping into just another program of the church? Do we look at well-equipped volunteers as tools to accomplish the various tasks associated with the institutional church, including evangelism? I can’t help but consider young mothers who are employed in full-time jobs, struggling to manage family, home, and career. Or the man approaching middle-age with a couple of kids to put through college, working 60 hours a week in order to hang onto his job and the stable income needed to support his family. There are all sorts of people for whom there is simply no capacity in their lives to serve at church or in the community. I know you know who I mean… you’ve talked to them. In fact, you have probably been frustrated by them, thinking they simply don’t “get it” and won’t step up to serve. I have.
You know and I know that they are just as called to serve as the next person. So how do we equip them? What do we equip them for?
More to come…