The June issue of the newsletter from the Charis Fellowship Equipping Network went out yesterday. We thought the readers of GraceConnect.us would be interested.
One of the most demanding vocations is being a pastor, not only by the volume of responsibilities but also by their variety. Probably only a minority of those sitting in the pews Sunday morning have any idea of all that their pastor has been engaged in during the week.
Most pastors would say that their most important task is preaching the Sunday morning sermon, and that is easy to understand because of the amount of hours devoted to its preparation. But there is something that is equally important as preaching. It is equipping the believers for ministry.
So what is equipping? Today equip has a variety of meanings, but originally it meant to connect. With respect to ministry, to equip is to involve the Lord’s people to intentionally serve the Lord in a devoted manner. The pastor is certainly one of the main ligaments in the body of Christ, and one of his greatest responsibilities is to enable each Christ-follower to serve in ministry.
It is hard to imagine anything more important in a church than involving its members in ministries within each Christ-follower’s sphere of influence. The importance of this involvement is not measured by the kind of ministry the member is fulfilling, but by whether this ministry is being offered first and foremost to the Lord. As Paul says in Colossians 1:29: “For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.”
Every church approaches equipping in the way that is most natural to its culture. But no matter how the church might be organized, the principles of Ephesians 4:9-16 must be applied. The church has five ministry functions: outreach, proclamation, evangelism, shepherding, and training. The people that the Lord gives to His church are to be serving the Lord in ministries that are in one way or another related to these main functions.
In other words, the people sitting in the pews on Sunday morning are not merely to be ministry consumers. They are to be ministry co-workers. It is amazing to see how many people are discovering their value because someone has asked them to become involved in one of the ministry teams of a local church, serving in a ministry thrust as well as looking to impact those within their sphere of influence at work or school and within their neighborhoods. Many are finding purpose that they had not previously known.
It is difficult to imagine anything more eternally satisfying for a pastor, or any other leader in the church than to become the link for engaging their people in Christ-focused ministries. Though we know that we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, where “the fire will test the quality of each man’s work” (1 Corinthians 3:13), the text does not tell us whether we will be alone or in the presence of others. Imagine, though, what it would be like for a pastor to see some of the people of his flock stand before the Lord, and to hear the Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
If we are leading any kind of ministry, as a pastor or otherwise, the greatest gifts we can offer to the Lord are the people we are involving in ministry, enabling them to significantly impact others. Paul says, concerning slaves in Colossians 3:23-24, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.” If this promise is offered to slaves, we can be sure it is offered to everyone in the Lord’s church who serves Him in a ministry.
We would love to help you develop an equipping culture and system within your church. Contact us through one of the following email addresses: Ed Short <firstname.lastname@example.org> or Tom Julien: <email@example.com>.