A critical need in the Western Church is a biblical understanding and implementation of Ephesians 4:11-16 through of the use key word ‘equipping’. It seems that many, including us pastors, do not fully understand what is meant by ‘equipping’, and why it is different from preaching and teaching.
Although preaching and teaching are essential elements in equipping, they cannot stand alone. Preaching and teaching are static. Equipping is active; it is not possible to equip without active involvement in ministry. As my friend, Dr. Tom Julien said, “Though the terms ‘equipping’ and ‘involvement’ are not synonyms, they are inseparable. Involvement creates a thirst for learning, and enables one to discover their spiritual gifts. Sitting in a class or taking a spiritual gift inventory both have merit, but do not necessarily equip for ministry.”
Ephesians 4:11-16, with all its implications is the key for the growth and unity of the church, for the development of each member to his full potential; for developing the church’s “joints and ligaments” as leaders through leadership teams. In fact, I contend this is exactly what the Apostle understood and meant to convey. Working in teams, whether two-by-two as Jesus sent the early disciples, or in larger teams of 4 or 5, ‘equipping’ happens through the experience of working together; of trying different things, of using different energies that lead us to better understanding of our own spiritual giftedness; of learning how to work alongside those who don’t always agree with us and finding ways to accomplish the task in unity. One Church. One Body. Strengthened through joints and ligaments firmly attached and functioning well!
“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”(Ephesians 4:11-16 ESV)
Is your church body strong?