What Does “Equipping The Saints” Mean? – Part XII
We have been looking at what it means to “equip the saints for works of service” as out lined in Ephesians 4. Part of equipping is surrounding a person with those things that will make them successful. That is the power and beauty of the five fold; the strengths of many support the weaknesses of one. Because the five fold is a team effort, a family effort, a community effort, no man is an island. Personally, I have learned to realize that several attempts at ministry in the past to which I have been involved were not as successful as they could have been because I did not have that support of diverse passions, desires, and ministries around me. My weaknesses help hinder the success of ministry, but I had no one around me to support and lift me up through their diverse passion in the time of my weakness.
Let’s say that you have the pastoral passion of shepherding; you love to care for others and nurture them physically, emotionally, and spiritually toward maturity in Jesus Christ. To get the full potential results of your ministry, you need the other four (evangelist, teacher, prophet, & apostle) components of the five fold to aid, abate, support, and equip your ministry. You need an evangelist to birth “babes in Christ” so that you have someone to nurture. You need the aide of the teacher to “ground” these new believers in the Word of God, the Bible, the aide of the prophet to teach them to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit for themselves and how to make the Logos Word a Rhema, or Living, Word, and the aide of apostolic oversight to monitor their spiritual growth from birth through maturity. Shepherding is only one part of the entire picture in equipping a saint in his spiritual journey!
Without added support, one can feel swamped, over extended, and eventually burnt out trying to be all things to all men. Often in the current pastor/laity model of most small churches, the burn out rate among clergy is staggering because the congregation expects their pastor to be strong in all five areas when he/she may be gifted in just one or two of them, and we expect him/her to do it alone because he is a professional. We need to change our perspective of ministry from a solo effort to a team approach of five. Ministry should be a “team effort”: the strengths of those around you should shore up your weaknesses and free you to minister in and through your strength. Ministry should be a “family approach” where all are members of the family of God; as in most families, members count on one another in order to succeed. Ministry should be a “community”: a community is made up of many different, diverse components that aide each other for the good of the group.
The key word of “equipping the saints for the work of service” is the word “service”. We have to learn not only how to serve, but also be served. If we become too arrogant, to independent, rejecting help from our brethren, we will rob them of the joy of servicing us. The reciprocal serving back and forth is the key to the success of the five fold ministry as a team ministry. It is a give and take situation. One’s strength and passion, mixed with compassion, can be a very effective tool at aiding, abetting, and supporting another brother or sister in the lord with a different passion than our own.
In conclusion, we need to accept the fact that we cannot do it alone; the kingdom of God is too big for just me or you to do it all. We are a body in Christ, the Church, so there are many other parts, people, whose gifting, though drastically different from our own, are needed to maximize the ministry of the gospel. Divisions will diminish if divergent passions serve one another, draw from one another, aide one another, and equip one another. Truly, then will we see a powerful Church with effective ministry.