Jesus said the greatest commandment is to ”love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” (Luke 10:27).
I quote this because it shows the multi-dimensionality of ministry: heart, soul, strength, and mind. Too often in the church, we have only focused on the mind (or, if you are from a more Pentecostal-leaning group, the heart). But leading a ministry takes more than information. The diagram above illustrates four dimensions of equipping leadership. To be successful, potential ministry leaders must be equipped in four areas: (1) information, (2) skills, (3) resources, and (4) heart.
When leaders give people responsibility for an outcome without providing the necessary training or equipment, they may come away feeling trapped. With most equipping done in churches focused only on teaching, we may be producing the contrary of an equipped people. Let me explain.
- People may end up resenting the church or even God for placing these heavy burdens on them without showing them HOW to do it, or
- They may conclude that our preaching and teaching exists in another dimension disconnected from daily reality. By not including all four dimensions in our efforts to equip, we may be producing Christians who see Christianity as a spectator sport where only the professionals actually play on the field. And it’s not their fault; it’s the way we have approached equipping.
On the other hand, when we approach equipping others from all four directions, we will experience explosive growth in ministry potential. Let’s define these four dimensions.
The first dimension of an equipping environment is that it makes sure people have access to the information they need to fulfill their ministry.
Bible studies become a different thing when they take on purpose beyond mere knowledge acquisition. Imagine what would happen if we transformed our Bible studies from studying to KNOW into studying to DO.
Someone feels called to lead a home discipleship group. What kinds of information do they need?
Someone else wants to serve the needs of the elderly in a senior citizens home. What information do they need to do this? The CEO of an auto manufacturing plant wants to know how his job can also become a ministry for the Lord. What information does he need?
The second dimension is skill development. This involves first mapping out the skills needed to accomplish your strategic vision. Think in the future tense. It’s not just about how to continue doing what you are doing, but how to get to where you want to go.
Remember, skill training is not the same as information regurgitation. While information may be involved, skills are about DOING things. The only way to learn skills is by doing them under the guidance of a qualified mentor.
This one change in a plateaued or dying church could turn things around. You cannot depend on words alone to change people, but training through guided action is a formula for results.
Acquiring the resources to achieve your goals is a huge part of equipping the saints for ministry. This may involve establishing a special unallocated resource pool from which team leaders can draw to solve unforeseen problems. Sometimes the most empowering thing we can do is help others accept the responsibility for acquiring the resources themselves.
Obviously, the church cannot foot the bill every time someone feels called to do something. However, the church can help people develop the faith and the plans that include the resource side of the equation. Teaching people to call upon God and to depend on Him for supplying their need is a great service that leaders can provide (Ephesians 3:20-21; 2 Corinthians 9:8-10). Finding the balance between encouraging the faith to move mountains and the realism that understands that great endeavors always require hard work is a key leadership function.
People get discouraged. Isaiah tells us, “Even youths shall faint and be weary and young men shall fall exhausted” (Isaiah 40:30). Part of a leader’s role is to help others develop the capacity to live with mistakes and failures without being downhearted or dismayed. This also involves creating an overall climate of encouragement that raises expectations and motivates people to do things that stretch them.
There is also strong evidence that encouraging leader behavior generates innovation and creative thinking and doing. And above all, the Christian leader must point people to God as the ultimate source of encouragement. Isaiah’s statement goes on to say
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
Lead diagram created by the author.
Dr. Greg Waddell is passionate about helping church leaders equip their people for ministry. He believes there is wild potential in every believer that begs to be released. He can help you develop and implement practical strategies for increasing the ministry capacity of your congregation.