Are you equipping those in your church to be fully functioning ministers?
Because every Christian is a minister, it follows that we each need to be equipped to minister. God established the fivefold ministry to do just that (see Eph. 4:11-12)—and in the process of equipping, the entire body of Christ becomes fully functional. In fact, the core meaning of equip is “to make fully functional.” As leaders, we are, in effect, directors of our own Bible institute or ministry training school, each with an underlying purpose of producing a growing, healthy church. Among many others, three vital keys stand out for equipping our congregations to become healthy, growing churches:
1. Equipping in restoration. “You who are spiritual restore [literally “equip”] the one caught in a fault” (see Gal. 6:1). We equip our people by restoring their souls (see Ps. 23:3)—minds, wills, emotions and personalities. By the sea, the disciples were mending (“equipping”) nets torn from the weight of the fish struggling to get out of the nets (see Matt. 4:21). People today are torn by heavy weights and struggles that make their lives dysfunctional. We can mend the nets of their lives through counseling, training, prayer, inner healing or deliverance. As wounded healers ourselves, we are called to be ministers of reconciliation to others (see 2 Cor. 5:18-19).
2. Equipping in faith. “Without faith it is impossible to please [God]” (Heb. 11:6). The Lord is pleased with a healthy faith that is both strong and sound. A bold, confident faith comes by learning to walk by faith, being equipped with the Word, making faith confessions, having positive attitudes, knowing who we are in Christ and exercising the authority of the believer. However, God’s people also need a faith that is sound. A man in a church where I was pastor had such a confident faith that he declared he didn’t need to give up smoking—because he had bound and rebuked the nicotine! He had a bold faith, but a misinformed, presumptuous faith.
To be sound in faith, God’s people need to be taught the doctrinal foundations of the faith—what we believe and why we believe it. Studying principles of sound biblical interpretation and theology can enable your people to be bold in faith without presumption. I’ve found that reading the great classic faith leaders (e.g., Andrew Murray, George Müller, et al) instills in me a bold and wise faith.
3. Equipping in spiritual discernment. “But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil” (Heb. 5:14, NASB). Lack of discernment is potentially harmful to church growth and health. Recent revivals have shown how undiscerning immaturity can quench or grieve the Spirit’s work.
Every revival involves a mixture of Spirit, flesh and demonic, yet many believers fail to distinguish between these. Scripture warns us, “Do not believe every spirit” (1 John 4:1). Not everything that appears supernatural is from God. We must remember that every genuine gift of the Spirit can be counterfeited. Confusion and deception wreak havoc on believers who have no discernment. Here again, studying sound theology and interpretation of Scripture, and even church history, can train God’s people to be discerning.
I encourage you to establish a Bible institute or ministry training school, offering classes and seminars to restore your people emotionally and spiritually. As we grow toward becoming a healthy, whole body, we must instill in the saints a bold, wise faith, and train their spiritual eyes and ears to discern truth and error.
Paul King directs the Local Church and Online Bible Institute programs of Oral Roberts University (bi.oruglobal.com).