What In The World Does “Equipping The Saints” Mean?


A Challenge to the Church and Its Believers


Does the Church take Ephesians 4 seriously?  I do not know of a local church where I live that takes “equipping the saints for the work of the service” seriously.  There are courses, books, tapes, messages, etc. on “discipleship”, but what does the Church do to actually equip them. 

Does “equipping the saints” mean “educating them”?  Do the saints need courses and degrees, educational academia, or constant Bible studies to be equipped?  It is easier to “equip the staff for the work of the service” than the saints.  Why?  In public education, we are always faced with “professional development”, and I guess the church has taken that model in its institutionalizing of clergy & staff.  Years ago we called that process for believers, the saints, “sanctification”, growing in the likeness of Jesus Christ, but “sanctification” had nothing to do with formal education, nor with “professionalizing” Christianity.

So if “equipping” doesn’t mean formally educating the saints, what does it mean?  What is the Church suppose to be doing if it is “equipping the saints for the work of the service”? 

Maybe we should be asking who or what are we serving?  What is “the service” we are equipping the saints for?  Are we to serve “the system” or the “institution” or the “tradition” of the established church?  For what reason, or what result?  Are we serving “the lost” in an effort for them to be “found”? Are we to serve the unchurch, the nonChristian, those living in their communities that don’t go to church in order to bring them into our community? 

I propose that seminaries, Bible colleges, and Bible schools basically teach “how to equip the church to maintain itself”.  We teach them church lingo or linguistics, church manners, church laws of does and don’ts.  We do not necessarily teach how to “go into the world”, but we teach how “not to be part of the world”!  Jesus sent out 70 as recorded in Luke 10:1-23, giving them specific directions before releasing them, (like vs. 9: Heal the sick who are there and tell them ‘the Kingdom of God is near you’), then rejoicing at the out come of their endeavors (vs. 21 “At that time Jesus full of joy through the Holy Spirit said, 'I praise you, Father, Lord of the heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure’).  He didn’t equip the wise and learned, he equipped God’s children for the work of the service.

In up coming blogs, maybe we can look at this “phenomena of equipping the saints”, but the Church must define what “equipping the saints” actually means in practicality before it can move ahead with actually “equipping”.