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.