The whole point of equipping is for the Body of Christ to become mature, complete and perfect in our faith (Ephesians 4:12, 13). Much as we will not become perfect in this world, we can press forward toward the mark. In order for us to achieve this, we have to be intentional and purposeful. We also have to understand that this task does not belong only to the senior or ordained Pastors, but is the responsibility of each member of the body to help. We owe it to ourselves to seek out resources that will equip us.
Jesus’ model for equipping, as we see with His disciples, was relational, as also seen with the Godhead. It was about family, where love is central. Paul spoke of how to tend, and guide but not by coercion, or manipulation (1 Peter 5:3-4). We are encouraged as believers to come together, worship, receive teaching and celebrate things that bind us together, without hierarchy or pulling ranks. (This is something Lapis Lazuli Ministries invests so much in.) Jesus spent time with his disciples teaching and training, so we will have to give more time than just a Sunday or midweek service to be trained and equipped.
In the passage in Ephesians 4:11, Paul speaks of Jesus having gifted the Church with certain spiritual gifts, often referred to as the ‘Five Fold Ministry’. These include the apostles (special messengers) and the prophets (inspired preachers). These two see and activate heaven’s blueprint more clearly on earth. Then you have the evangelists (preachers of the gospel), pastors and teachers. Each of these gifting are very important and are supposed to be represented and valued in the church. These men and women should not be in competition with one another but rather complement one another. Together they exemplify Kingdom principles, bringing refreshing to the Body of Christ and thus helping equip of the saints.
Jesus’ desire is that we function in our gifting and model to other people to do the same. For example, the prophet who functions in his/her gifting as a prophet, also has to learn to recognise this gifting in others and teach, activate and train others up to function in their gifting. In the same way, an evangelist who always spreads the Good news but never helps others learn how to share the good news is not doing the full work of an evangelist. Paul speaks of the household of Stephanas who were first converts in Greece, (1 Corinthians 16:15,16) and then played a great role in equipping the saints.
We also ought to remember that Joel 2:28 says The Lord would provide a fresh outpouring of His Spirit on all in these days. This implies that there is an empowerment available to all, through dreams, visions or prophecy in these days to further equip the saints.
We also need father/mother figures in the Body who keep us accountable and speak into our lives. There is a stirring in the spirit for ‘Mentors’ to arise. These are trusted figures, who will disciple, teach, encourage and empower others. The need for equipping is so great that many are using social media to reach hundreds and thousands in a much quicker time. Patricia King’s link below helps to explain this point.
The best part of all this for me is that it is Papa’s desire to give us spiritual shepherd’s after His own Heart in these times. (Jeremiah 3:15). These sound like the best mentors to me.
He goes on to say that these will be people who will feed us with knowledge and understanding and judgement. It is my prayer that we seek Papa for the fulfilment of this promise.
May the Lord help us to really prioritise getting equipped so that we can step out to help equip others. May we truly make sacrifices of our time, such that we heed the call for mentors to arise.