Church leaders who claim to be serious about leading a disciple-making church aren’t going to get very far with such a claim if their flock isn’t equipped. But the equipping of the saints for ministry is one of the greatest failures among church leaders today.
It’s remarkable that we miss the mark regarding equipping since it is such a blatantly stated responsibility of leaders:
“Now these are the gifts Christ gave the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ,” Ephesians 4:11-12.
Let’s take a look at just one impact of not having equipped saints in the church. Throughout my work in ministry, I have often been asked to write curriculums. Those requests have come for a few reasons, 1) the pastor didn’t have the skills to do it himself, and also claimed to not have the time to do it, 2) a lack of good curriculums on the right subjects by Christian publishers, and 3) here’s one of the most important issues of all: the church not having any other people who are spiritually mature enough, and biblically literate and skilled enough to be able to take a topic and create their own lessons.
Please take note of that third point, because it wreaks havoc within the church. I have sat in on many meetings where pastors were told by others they would be willing to teach something, but only if they were provided with a curriculum. Fortunately, I have known some guys who wouldn’t take a curriculum if you gave them one because they want to teach and they want to dig into the Word themselves and prepare to teach from their own direct study of the Word of God. The problem is, those kinds of willing and capable (equipped!) teachers are few and far between in the church today.
That’s because we haven’t equipped the saints enough to be competent in taking the Word of God and teaching it to others. If you must depend on a curriculum, then you’re likely not equipped enough to disciple someone else. And if you’re not equipped enough to disciple someone else, you won’t be making disciples and discipling them.
That means you’re not going to have a disciple-making church.
Key to equipping your flock is discipling others fully so they can take what you have taught them in the Word of God and teach others, an example the Apostle Paul set for us with Timothy …
“Timothy, my dear son, be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus. You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others,” 2 Timothy 2:1-2.
You don’t develop a disciple-making flock by continuing to leave your people dependent on curriculums, but only by discipling them so they are able to take the Word of God and, in a trustworthy manner, be able to teach others.
Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not against the use of curriculums or other teaching or evangelism aids. I equip people in how to share the Gospel using a specific evangelistic tool, and continue to write curriculums on occasion, but all to be used as just a tool. My point is, if we are dependent on them, then we greatly limit the scope of what we can “teach” and how we can teach. We need to be equipped enough in the Word of God so that we can step beyond our tools and be able to fully disciple others.
Is yours an equipped church? Can members of your flock take a subject and teach it from scripture in a trustworthy manner? If not, you’ve got some equipping to do.
This article originally appeared here.