By Dave Earley, adapted from Pastoral Leadership Is… (B&H Publishing Group, 2012)
The Lord not only tells pastors that they are responsible to equip the saints, He also tells them how to go about it. A simple study of the word “equip,” as used by Paul in Ephesians chapter 4, reveals four tools that are essential for preparing saints for service.
When we do a study of “equip” (Gk., kataridzo), we discover that the first tool the pastor has for equipping the saints is prayer. The author of Hebrews concluded his letter with a prayer that God would equip his readers with everything they would need to fulfill His will.
Now may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus—the great Shepherd of the sheep—with the blood of the everlasting covenant, equip you with all that is good to do His will, working in us what is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Heb 13:20–21)
Wise pastors recognize that the Holy Spirit is already committed to preparing saints for service; it only makes sense for him to pray that to that end.
Most pastors should spend less time praying that their people get out of the hospital and more time praying that they get into ministry. I suggest that you spend your energy praying that the Lord would “equip [them] with all that is good to do His will, working in [them] what is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever” (Heb 13:21).
2. The Word of God
The second tool the pastor has for equipping the saints is the Word of God. Look carefully at the end of this familiar verse.
All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Tim 3:16–17, italics added)
Paul told Timothy that the Word was sufficient to equip him and his men for every good work. No wonder Paul told Timothy to preach the Word (2 Tim 4:2). No wonder Jesus prayed for His disciples that the Father would sanctify them through the truth of the Word of God (John 17:17). No wonder Jethro told Moses to focus part of his energy on “instruct[ing] them about the statutes and laws, and teach[ing] them the way to live and what they must do” (Exod 18:20).
3. Intentional Training
The third tool for equipping the saints is intentional investment. Luke records Jesus as using the word kataridzo as the result of intentional discipleship training. “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40, italics added).
Paul told Timothy to use this tool of intentional investment:
“And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim 2:2).
4. Connection with Other Members of the Body of Christ
As you know, the Corinthian church was a disjoined church. One of Paul’s primary motivations for writing them the letter 1 Corinthians was to bring them to unity. In his letter he urges them to link together in greater unity. In doing so, he uses the term kataridzo.
I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all say the same thing, that there be no divisions among you, and that you be united with the same understanding and the same conviction. (1 Cor 1:10)
As pastors, we find it difficult to really equip saints for ministry until we begin to place a greater emphasis on healthy holistic small groups. In healthy home groups the saints actively serve each other. Instead of having a professional “minister” serve them, they minister to each other. They pray for one another. They encourage and challenge each other.
Each group can also actively engage with needs in the community. We can adopt a widow, others a single mom, while still others can work at the homeless shelter.