"And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ," (Ephesians 4:11-12)
Paul the Apostle, is clearly stating in Ephesians 4:12 that the purpose of the '5-fold ministry' offices are to equip the people in the work of ministry, not to do the ministry itself. This was a radical departure from the way I was leading as a pastor. I was the minister. That was my title and that was my job. At least that's how I used to think.
I remember, early on in my tenure as a pastor being exhausted by the work load and frustrated by the limited results. I began to search for answers. That's when this verse became revelatory to me. The word equip seemed to jumped off the page. But what did it mean to equip?
That's when I heard a teaching from Leon Fontaine. He said equipping...
- is more than leading - leading somebody can make them a follower and not a doer.
- is more than motivating - motivating can inspire the inept.
- is more than caring - caring for people can result in caring for unskilled people.
- is more than teaching - teaching can provide competent info but that doesn’t mean the student will function in that info.
- is more than maturing.
- is more than modeling.
- is more than busyness - busyness doesn’t necessarily mean productive . He defined slothfulness as 'being busy without productiveness' and laziness as 'doing just enough to get by.'
- is more than delegating.
- is more than positioning someone.
- is more than enabling.
So what does it mean to equip? Equipping, as Leon defined it, was simply skill development.
In other words, according to the Apostle Paul, my responsibility as a pastor is to develop people in their ministry skills. That was a radical change of perspective for me. It meant that I needed to do more than just develop people in their spiritual skills - how to read the bible, pray, etc. - I was to develop their ministry skills as well. The longer I searched this out the more I came to realize that the word “ministry” was not referring to only those activities within the church. It was referring to any activity that advanced the kingdom of God. As I looked at our church, I realized that most of my people's ministries occurred outside of our four walls, beyond my personal reach, in areas of business, politics, education, arts and entertainment, music, athletics and media.
What if I, as a pastor, flipped the organizational chart upside down in my church? What if I became a ministry coach and the people became the ministers? What if I designed a leadership development culture, intentionally training people in the biblical model for community leadership? John Maxwell defines leadership as influence. If I developed people's skills as leaders in their workplace, what increase of influence would we experience in our community? Would we be able to more effectively fulfill our WHY - reaching every available person by every available means at every available time with the Gospel of Jesus Christ? I think so!
Our motto became "Our Dream is to Help You Build Yours." This simple change in thinking led to the creation of an equipping culture which produced noticeable, tangible results. Almost immediately the church began to grow, the finances grew, and we began to see weekly salvations. I too, saw an almost immediate change. I had a new purpose, a new energy and a new focus and I became less burdened with the labor of ministry. I learned to not work harder, but to work smarter, following the Exodus 18 principle of raising up leaders of 10's, 50's, 100's and 1000's to distribute the ministry load.
What would happen if every church's dream was to help build the dreams of their people? What if we as pastors viewed our roles as ministry coaches? What would change?