Equipping the Saints

   Quote: "Countless Christians have told me that after trying this model of church, that recipe of revival, riding this wave and catching the spirit that way, attending this “life changing seminar” and that “anointed conference” their lives and their churches are still dreadfully the same, and they are prepared to give up or just hold on for dear life." Wolfgang Simson – Houses that Change the World

1) Thesis #13: Equipping The Saints In Order To Perform The Work Of Ministry Is Often Talked About But Rarely Performed According To Biblical Pattern. From 95Theses. By Bob Lund.

    If we have been gifted with one of the five-fold ministry gifts, (apostle, prophet, etc.), we are supposed to be involved doing ministry, right? WRONG! If we read the Bible correctly (Ephesians 4:11,12), it says five-fold ministries are to spend the bulk of their effort equipping the saints. This is so that they may be able to do the work of ministry. If you are a teacher, why are you the main event on Sunday morning? If you are a prophet, why are you the one that prophesies? Each ministry gift is to be passing on their gifting to others.

    The superstar mentality in America today has caused us to elevate gifted individuals to the forefront of ministry. Somehow ministry has become about elevating a few to ministry. All the while, the regular folks who surround these elite few stay “regular.” These ones become spectators watching the professionals.

    Wayne Jacobsen points out the ministry-of-the-few” syndrome when he says,“Part of the joy in the early days of the charismatic renewal was the realization that the Spirit wanted us to be a variety of vessels to accomplish his work. Believers were tired of sitting in the pews watching it happen on the platform. Yet how quickly we’ve returned to the same format in the name of keeping together our superchurches!”[1]

    What happened to the concept “He must increase and I must decrease?” Or the cousin concept of “My friends must increase and I must decrease?” If the Lord has given us a ministry gift, our job is to increase the influence and service that others perform. In a word, we equip them. Our Lord measures our obedience by how well we promote others in their fruitfulness in the Kingdom of God. The ultimate goal for any Christian worker is to fade out and watch others flourish in ministry.

    In a masterful summation, Wolfgang Simson best describes our situation today when he says,“Strangely enough, exactly the opposite of (the) biblical model has become the norm: specialist teachers, evangelists, pastors, apostles and prophets move about at a breathtaking speed, constantly overworked and under stress, slaves to their diaries. Unlike Jesus, they are difficult to even approach for others, with more than just their blood pressure in danger.

    They give seminars and speak at conferences, at which they show to the amazed masses the latest state of the art in their specialist area, and do exactly the opposite of their true and God-given task: instead of equipping God’s people for the ministry, they perform it for them in front of them. Instead of teaching them how to teach, they just teach.

    Instead of equipping them to be Evangelists themselves, they simply evangelize; instead of training people how to prophesy, they prophesy and go away without leaving disciples behind. This does not only set unhealthy standards, but leaves both ‘the teacher and the students” unfulfilled and empty, because they have not done what God wanted them to do: to be discipled into these ministries, to learn each others secrets, to be initiated into the multiplication process themselves.

    This creates a new caste of clergy and laity, and ultimately fails to prepare God’s people to do their ministry. The five ministries are given by God to be given away, to be used in equipping others to do the work of the ministry, which ultimately means multiplying the structure through which the ministry is done: the housechurches.”[2]Instead of equipping others, such leaders and ministers really only strengthen their own positions of power and ministry in the Body.

    Let’s take a closer look at the business of equipping. The root word for our English equip, as used in Ephesians 4:12, is katartizo. It literally means to mend, repair, fit, complete, prepare, restore, and perfect. Accordingly, these verbs exactly describe the multiple facets of our service to one another. Specifically, people who operate in the following gifts are to “live” the above verbs as their ministry:

  • Those who start new works and give away their secrets of success to disciples (apostles - church planters) 
  • Those who speak the mind of the Lord and help others learn to do so (prophets) 
  • Those who find creative ways to bring the lost to Jesus and show others how to do it (evangelists) 
  • Those who impart love, care, protection, and counsel to the brethren and make sure that they are giving away such ministry to others (pastors) 
  • Those who teach the Word of God and train others to be teachers, either in a large group or one-on-one (teachers) 

        Each of the gifted people above have a mandate from the Lord, to equip other saints to do the work associated with their respective gifts. Such brethren know that their principle task is to multiply other ministers and not merely increase their own ministry and influence.

        Coupled with equipping others is the task of releasing them. Releasing others means that we take risks in giving them full responsibility with a ministry. You love them, instruct them, model it for them, love them some more, and then let them go! You remove your fingerprints from their work. Keep in mind it is a normal part of releasing people that you will have some messes to clean up (Proverbs 14:4)!

        One peril many leaders have fallen prey to is to keep people tied to themselves by not helping them find, cultivate and fulfill their own vision for their life and ministry. David Fitzpatrick passionately expresses this thought when he says,

        “We must release, not possess them. The church is filled with frustrated men and women whom leaders will not release. They are kept ever so subtly in emotional bondage through emotional soul ties or a maze of responsibilities. The call on their lives is kept dormant within their souls because they are constantly forced to focus on the various, unending dreams of their leaders. We need to realize one of the most subtle ways to possess those entrusted to our leadership is to keep them continually focused on our goals.” [3]  Equipping requires releasing; releasing implies risk; risk requires faith and bravery. Jesus will give us both!

    What We Can Do!

        If you been given one of the five ministry giftings, begin to promote others by imparting to them what you have been given. In actuality, you will be given more prominence in the eyes of our Lord by pouring out yourself into others and equipping them to do the work of ministry. If we clutch our ministry, then we will not be fulfilling the wishes of our Father.

       If you are not a leader, do whatever it takes to find some gifted brethren who can equip you. If you are sure they are the “releasing type,” then help them by serving their vision. Then, when the Lord clarifies His call on your life and your giftings begin to be made known, the ones whom you have served will support and release you.

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• © 1999-2002 Len Hjalmarson.• Last Updated on May 31, 2001