An oxymoron occurs when two concepts are connected together…in this case “Equipping” and “Church”…that first appear to communicate a positive attribute, but upon closer reflection, are truly in opposition to one another. I believe our modern and postmodern churches are experiencing an equipping crisis.
By “equipping” I mean the core purpose for equipping within the context of the Church, found in Ephesians 4:11 and 12, which states that various leader-types with the Body of Christ are commissioned to “equip God’s people for the works of service” (NIV). The reason why I have come to believe that “Equipping Church” is an oxymoron is due to both personal experience and random research:
- Personal Experience: In all my life as a Christ Follower, the only equipping for ministry service I ever received came from parachurch ministries and not from my local church(s). Over many years, and in many congregations, I experienced a “sink-or-swim” philosophy that pervaded these churches, their pastors, and their staff. Church leaders were quick to receive help and plug people into ministry service slots, but they did nothing to prepare me, or equip me, for ministry service roles.
- Random Research: Congregation members across the country express the perspective that their pastoral staff has not done anything to equip them for ministry service. Since designing the ministry mobilization assessment tools utilized by AssessME.org and E-Church Essentials in 2003, I have had an opportunity to speak with many pastors and many lay-leaders. Almost without exception, pastors tell me that they are working hard to equip and prepare their people for ministry service. Yet, almost without exception, lay people tell me that they have never experienced personal equipping for ministry service by their leadership.
A Book in Progress:
Why does such a disconnect exist between pastors and their perspective regarding equipping, and the perspective of their laity? After all, is not equipping for ministry service one of the four mission objectives Christ has communicated for His Church to accomplish? (NOTE: The four New Testament mission objectives include, evangelism, disciple-making, Christ-centered community, and equipping/mobilizing people into ministry service). There are many factors which contribute to the breakdown of the equipping process within the local church. In fact, the factors are so significant, that I have decided to write an entire book on the subject. The tentative title for my next book is: Equip the Equipper. This book will not focus upon the negative reasons why equipping is often not occurring within the local church. Rather, it will focus on “equipping” those who are called by God to do the work of equipping with the tools, systems, and resources they require if they are to be effective and successful equippers for Christ.
In Need Your Help:
I need your help if this book is to have significant influence with churches and pastors across the country. I need pastors and church staff to participate in a survey about the strengths and/or weaknesses of your church’s current equipping strategy. While I ask for real names and contact information in the survey, if I use your information within the book all identifications will be changed to protect the privacy of all involved. Please select the link below to launch and complete the online survey.