Shepherding Ministry Venue: Equipping Ministry
One of the primary passages pertaining to equipping ministry is Ephesians 4:11-16. While equipping ministry can simply include the provision of training opportunities for ministry, it can be so much more. These verses show the ultimate objective of equipping ministry to be:
- the building up of the body
- the unity of the body
- the maturity of the body
- the fullness of Christ in the body
This requires that each member, or each part, "does its work" according to Ephesians 4:16.
Training therefore needs to look beyond the whole body to the individual as well.
Training needs to be an on-going process and not a one time event.
Seeing the equipping ministry as a means of shepherding people and not merely teaching them will help you tend to the long term welfare of individuals and reach the ultimate goals God laid out for equipping ministry in Ephesians 4.
Notice how God calls for a Network of Shepherds to do the Work of Equipping:
"It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers to prepare God's people ..." (Eph. 4:11-12a)
The gifting represented in those God calls to be the equippers will bring into the process a much greater perspective and will address different issues and needs than would solely one shepherd doing the work of equipping.
Apostles will be pushing us onward, helping us not get stuck in ministry ruts.
Prophets will tell it like it is, warning us to stay pure and godly in all we do.
Evangelists will help us not to become in-grown, reminding us that there is a world out there who needs Jesus.
Pastors will be sensitive to people and their needs, keeping the focus on people and not just our programs.
Teachers will provide systematic instruction, guiding us to take into account the whole counsel of the Word of God in all we do.
The Ministry Description for Equipping is in the Original Language:
"to prepare God's people for works of service" (Eph. 4:12)
katartismos = to mend
The Greek word used in Ephesians 4:12 is the same one used in Matthew 4:21 and Mark 1:19 where the soon-to-be disciples were mending their nets. To the fishermen, mending their nets was as necessary of a work as fishing itself. They realized that the one wasn't going to be effective without the other. So in ministry we need that balance of equipping and ministry. Our nets need to be able to hold the fish.
Mending the nets not only happened when holes needed to be repaired. Mending nets was multi-faceted and so must be our equipping ministry. The Shepherding Ministry Manual includes five "R's" depicting what might be included in equipping ministry as it parallels the mending of nets as well as some questions for further evaluation and reflection.
Notice how Equipping Ministry is Focused on Christ, the Chief Shepherd:
"to prepare God's people ... so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ ... we will in all things grow up into Him who is the Head, that is Christ. From Him the whole body, joined and held together ..." (Eph. 4:12-13, 15-16)
Jesus is the reason we equip others. Knowing Jesus and becoming more like Him is the goal we should have for people, not merely that they can perform ministry tasks effectively. Jesus is the substance and the source. It is all about Him and not us!
Effective Equipping Prevents, not only Corrects, Certain Conditions in the Flock:
"Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him ..." (Eph. 4:14-15)
As people grow through being equipped, they change . . .
from a more self-centered and self-serving perspective that is easily persuaded to live in the moment
to an other-centeredness built on integrity and focused on eternity.
With such a worldview, people consider the big picture before acting rather than simply look at their little corner of ministry. This is a safe-guard against many pitfalls.