I. EQUIPPING FOR EFFECTIVE SERVICE
“And He (Jesus) gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.” Ephesians 4:11,12 (NAS)
THE EQUIPPING MINISTRY
The Greek word translated “equipping” (NAS), or “train” (MSG), or “to prepare” (NIV), is KATARTISMOS (kat-ar-tis-mos’) which means to completely furnish or to fully prepare. This equipping is an internal work manifesting its fruit in external ministry service. The verb form of the word is KATARTIZO (kat-ar-tid’-zo) and means to render fit or complete; to repair (literally or figuratively), to adjust, or mend. As we trace the usage and application through the New Testament, we will find that the most effective equipping includes both “repairing” and “preparing” the people of God. What we will discover is that the equipping process is far more than dispensing information or teaching someone how to perform a given task. It involves the effective preparation of one’s inner person.
FOUR ASPECTS OF THE EQUIPPING PROCESS
1. The restoring of that which is separated, alienated, or at odds. “Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; looking to yourselves, lest you too be tempted” (Galatians 6:1, NAS emphasis added). Other versions render the word, “set him right and restore and reinstate him” (AMP), “forgivingly restore him,” (MSG). The words for “equip” (Eph 4:12) and “restore” (Gal 6:1) are the same Greek word! This aspect of the equipping process involves the honest, loving confrontation of sin and/or sinful patterns with the overall objective always being restoration. Sin causes a breach in relationship; both in our relationship with God and in our relationships with one another. Because sin and relational conflicts are inevitable, churches need to have a clear and written church restoration policy which articulates their current thinking regarding church discipline. (Additionally, a church staff needs a clearly defined grievance procedure stated in an up-to-date staff policy handbook.) The Bible encourages us to see church discipline in the context of three important factors: the seriousness of sin, sacrificial love, and endless forgiveness. Therefore, teach regularly on the many “one another” passages in the New Testament as well as the peacemaking skills described in Galatians 6; Matthew 5,18; I Timothy 5; and Titus 3:10.
2. The right ordering and arrangement of that which is without form and void. “By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of the things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:3, NAS emphasis added). The Greek word translated “prepared” is also translated “formed” (NIV and NLT), and “framed (fashioned, put in order, and equipped for their intended purpose)” (AMP); and is the Greek verb form KATARTIZO. The inference here has to do with the positive impact of God’s creative acts and the healthy systems that perpetuate that which is created. In Genesis 1:2 we read that the earth was “formless and void.” The result of God’s creative act was that order and form were brought to that which was formerly chaotic. A second aspect of the equipping process involves the establishment of redemptive systems and structures – both individually and corporately – which sustain and nurture the body.
3. The supplying of that which is necessary or lacking. “Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith” (1 Thessalonians 3:10, NAS emphasis added). Faith, in the above passage, has to do with one’s walk with Jesus Christ. Equipping, in this third aspect, has to do with a commitment to consistently and intentionally teach the sound doctrines of Scripture and encourage practical application. We want to get people into the Bible and get the Bible into them.
4. The mending of that which is broken, torn, or incomplete. “And going on from there He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them” (Matthew 4:21, emphasis added). A fourth aspect of equipping is to mend that which is torn. From a spiritual and emotional perspective we will want to be prepared to provide the resources necessary for people to recover from emotional and spiritual wounding (see Malachi 3:2-3). For all of us this is a cyclical and developmental process. We do not want to encourage “naval-gazing,” yet we want to provide on-going pathways to healing and growth.
Summary – Our Commission to Equip (Eph. 4:1-16) – Leaders are called by God to develop pathways to repair and prepare the people of God, individually and corporately, for delegated roles in order to fulfill their divine destinies as well as carry out God-given vision.
1. Quantitative — Keeping track of the quantitative score by measuring the numbers of: coaching appointments, leaders developed and released into ministry, overall involvement in ministries and outreaches, attendance and excellence of training events, a growing “New Community” of motivated, coachable, and growing leaders.
2. Qualitative — Keeping track of the qualitative score by looking for such things as: responsive obedience to God’s Word, the fruit of the Spirit and attitude of the church, whether or not there is a humble willingness to follow the leadership (i.e., followership), eagerness to serve, openness and active receptivity to unchurched, unity, passion, faith, hope, love, etc.