What does it mean to “equip” a follower of Jesus? So far we have explored three of our five missional values; honoring, connecting, and affecting. Each of these values are a layer in the foundation of our desire to establish communities centered on Jesus. This means these communities are equipping disciples (all followers of Jesus) for practical ministry, growing in their spiritual and natural gifts, and sharing those gifts to build up the Church as a whole.
Understanding our own tools helps us to equip people so they understand their calling as an apostle, pastor, teacher, evangelist or prophet, above all, it is about how to grow towards complete and full maturity in Christ. Equipping people to not just do ministry, but to affect their communities and be with God in all circumstances, to go through trouble, disagreements, and heartbreak with faith, love, and hope. Do you know your own tools, gifts, and skills? Don’t be afraid to ask for help and opportunities to grow and strengthen them!
We aim for this because Paul wrote to the Ephesians the following:
11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.Ephesians 4:11-16 NLT
Equipping people for ministry takes time, experience, coaching, mentoring (intentional one on one discipleship), and most of all worshiping God. We can not just study God, we must worship God, be transformed from the inside out, and connect our hearts with our heads. We encourage sharing and learning in community with others, both young and old, from different backgrounds, with families, and in our day-to-day lives. Then we celebrate what God is doing in all of us with worship and thanksgiving.
How can I equip people?
- Have intentional conversations drawing out passions and gifts in people, dreaming and creating ways to practice those gifts and make them stronger.
- Do a project with others, include them in the design and planning, and encourage them in small and big things.
- Do some devotions together on a regular basis, read and share your thoughts on interesting Bible passages.
- Above all always put the relationship first, the goal is the journey, there is no “finish” line when equipping people. There is always more to explore and new things to try. Be accountable and be transparent, this endears people, where they are known and loved deeply.