Home » Equipping » What are we equipping them for? Is it enough?

What are we equipping them for? Is it enough?

In my last post, I questioned whether we are in danger of turning equipping into another program of the church. I suggested that we as equipping leaders might need to look at our motive for equipping. If we are truly honest, are we motivated to equip in order to fill the empty ministry slot? Perhaps we are accomplishing that more efficiently when we encourage people to engage in gifts discovery and match them to appropriate serving opportunities, but I’m concerned that our motivation is still skewed.

Perhaps we need to be motivated by something more than the ministry roles and serving opportunities of the church–no matter how important and worthwhile they are–and rather be driven by a passion for helping people see the whole of their life as a serving opportunity. Perhaps we need to be motivated by the desire to see each and every believer be the hands and feet and voice of Christ wherever they are and whatever they are doing. Period. Maybe what we need to do is help the harried working mom or the stressed-out executive dad discover how God has gifted them for ministry right where they are.

In our consumer culture, is it any wonder that they are suspicious about our attempts to “equip” them? Why wouldn’t they assume that we are trying to add one more thing to their already busy calendar… the sad thing is that, in too many cases, they are right! We may be sincere in our desire to help them find the best serving opportunity that aligns with their SHAPE* for ministry, but we are still trying to plug them into a serving role that we need to fill.

Last Sunday I listened to a sermon on 1 Peter 2:5. The preacher spoke of us as being priests to the nation and to the world, explaining that a priest (in this context) is simply a person who represents God. How are we equipping believers to represent God? How does the working mom or the middle-aged executive reflect the grace and glory of God in their day in and day out life? Can we simply equip them by helping them discover how their SHAPE for ministry fits into the warp and woof of their every day life without suggesting one more “opportunity” to live it out? Can we let that be enough… until such time as the Holy Spirit prompts them to volunteer to teach Sunday school or serve at the homeless shelter?

What do you think?

*SHAPE is an acronym for Spiritual gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality, and Experiences. This discovery method originated at Saddleback Church and is my preferred approach for equipping.

5 thoughts on “What are we equipping them for? Is it enough?

  1. I wonder if digging into the idea of vocation and calling would shed light in these questions. Vocation comes from the Latin for voice. Each of us need to hear the voice of the Spirit calling us in out unique vocation in God’s world. The idea of calling is rooted in the Protestant Reformation. In restoring the idea of the priesthood of all believers, the reformers emphasized that all work whether cobbling shoes, milking cows, painting portraits, doing dishes, planting corn or preaching sermons was God’s work. The work we are given to do in the world is one of the key ways we manifest the Kingship of Jesus – by doing whatever we do to the glory of God.

    That being said, whenever St. Paul writes about Spiritual Gifts it is in the context of body-life – i.e., whenever the body of Christ is together all kinds of gifts bubble up. This is also different than the “filling volunteer slots” approach that you are re-assessing.

    Perhaps hanging those two ideas together would help Christians grasp that vocation and gifts are not discerned only or maybe even primarily to fill jobs at church.

    • I do believe that will preach, Peter. Oh… wait… you DID preach it! And a mighty fine job you did, too!
      Seriously, understanding vocation in the context of the priesthood of all believers is critical to being faithful to our call as Christ-followers. It is also critical to body-life, that is, the church actually being the body of Christ. Thank you for your helpful comments!

  2. Getting that through to people was one of the best and worst things we ever did. Worst because it moved us out of slot filling (good thing!) but also made it harder to find the people to serve. The personal expectations moved but not the corporate expectations. As people were empowered to see their daily life as ministry (best thing ever) they felt free-er to say “no” to ministries at/through church but they still expected people to serve them and their children when they wanted VBS, SS, or youth ministry. Somehow there has to be a balance and accountability with the freedom equipping brings.

    • You make a good point, Rachel. I, too, have seen this happen and it is very frustrating! I think that this situation might be helped through a better corporate understanding of what happens in body life. Everyone has to accept that he/she has a role to play in what happens when the body gathers together. Sometimes it takes temporarily suspending a ministry in order for folks to see the need to pitch in and serve occasionally just because it needs doing, regardless of their gifting. It’s a tough balancing act!

  3. I have come to understand that if someone owns a bible then they are already “equipped” and an equipping leader is more a shepherd to help guide those who are new to the faith, fallen away from the faith or stuck in their faith become grounded in who God has created them to be. The bible talks about God having already given us all that we need but unless we marinate in that truth daily we tend to listen more to the world’s logic rather than Godly wisdom. The world’s logic is heard more often and is at times louder…..so shepherd on my friends! I pray you keep this perspective of “programs” in your heart as to keep your motives pure.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s