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Developing a Culture of Equipping, Part Three
By: Bill Easum

By The last two months we have focused on the difficulty of making the shift from a “doer” to “equipper” and what happens during the transition. This month, we will examine the type of leadership needed for the transition to be fulfilled.

 How Equippers Think
• What is primarily on your mind when you go to worship? Preaching your sermon or seeing whose eyes light up? When I finally made the transition (notice I had to work on this), preaching took on a new dimension. Conversion was still my primary goal but a close second was developing a culture of equipping and seeing people’s eyes light when they first understood.

• What is primarily on your mind as you teach? Doing a good job or intuiting who might in time be able to take your place? When I would see an eye light up, I would make a mental note and try to find the name of the person so I could invite them to lunch.

• When you see a new person at church, do you think a new member or a potential servant? New members seldom make disciples; servants always do.

• When you get up in the morning, do you reach first for your “to do” list or a “to be” list?  Everyone has a “to do” list; leaders need a “to be” containing the names of people they are mentoring.

• When you pray, do you pray for God to send more servants your way? I’ve learned that the more I pray for servants to emerge the more likely they are to do so. Prayer has a way of causing you to focus on what is important.

• How do you think of yourself – as a preacher or an equipper? In the early to middle part of the 20 century, you could grow a church through great preaching.  Today, great preaching isn’t the primary driver of church or personal growth. Today, it’s more important to be a mentor than great preacher. Why? Because in the past, more people had some relationship with the church and their parents mentored them in the faith. Today, most of the people who do arrive at church are blank slates that must be written upon. 

• “How much time do I spend mentoring future leaders and holding our present leaders accountable?” You might do well to have your staff keep a record each month of how much time they spend mentoring future leaders and how much time they spend doing ministry. The comparison might shock you. Then have individual personal conversations about how you can help them become better mentors.

Role of the Pastor in Equipping
By now, it should be crystal clear that pastoral care is not the responsibility of a pastor in any size church. Your role is to help them grow into mature Christians, and that happens best when people are serving one another rather than being taught a course at the church. No matter how small your church is, your role as lead pastor is never centered on going to the hospital or visiting shut-ins. That was settled in Acts 6 where Paul said pastoral care isn’t the role of leadership, so they asked Stephen to care for the widows and orphans. The only reason you would do either is to equip someone to do it instead of you.

Does this mean pastors shouldn’t care about their congregation? Of course not! It is precisely because the pastor does care for the congregation that the pastor focuses on equipping the church to effectively live in this world. The more ministry the congregation does the stronger the congregation becomes.

Role of the Staff in Equipping
In an equipping environment, the role of the staff is to multiply themselves and their ministries. The only way to accomplish this is by training the laity to take responsibility for caring out most of the ministry.

Role of the Congregation in Equipping
In an equipping environment, the congregation assumes the role of caring for one another. This care is accomplished through a variety of ministries such as small groups, Stephen Ministries, and locally produced care systems. The staff may recruit and train, but the laity do the bulk of ministry.

By now, you’ve realized that the only reason you need paid pastoral/program staff is for them to reproduce themselves by recruiting, equipping, deploying, and coaching the congregation into mission. The measurement of success is not how big the church becomes or how many staff it has, but how many people a year the staff actually prepares for and involve in mission. If staff can’t equip, you don’t need them. Bite the bullet and train or replace them. Too much is at stake to allow any paid staff to be content with any thing less than multiplication.

This conclusion means that one of the major metrics you should use in determining the effectiveness of your church is the number of people intentionally being mentored. I recommend that you monitor this list every week in your staff meeting.

It’s very simple to do. Just ask how many have a “to be” list of 10 people, how their mentoring is going, the number of people they have equipped and put into ministry growing, and how many new converts have they had. The more affirmative responses you get the better able your church is to make disciples.

Bill Easum is the founder and president of 21st Century Strategies, Inc. a full-service church consulting group since 1987 whose mission is to equip Christians for global impact, www.effectivechurch.com.  

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