The scripture tells us in Ephesians 4:11-12 that God gives us pastors and teachers for the purpose of ‘equipping’ the saints for the work of the ministry and for the edifying of the church. There are several things to note concerning the equipping ministry of the pastor:
1. Equipping is the pastor’s primary role.
The pastor of a local church wears many hats. He is called upon and expected to do various things outside of teaching and preaching. However, both pastors and churches must understand that the number one role of the pastor is to teach and train the congregation for ministry. When I think of my ministry as a pastor, it is easy to get discouraged when you see people not using their spiritual gifts in the work of the church. It is a very stressful thing to have the burden and feeling of having to do everything. However, the fact that people are not serving as they should is not necessarily their fault. As pastors, we are very quick to blame everything on our people, but we should take a close look at ourselves. When I see people that are not serving as they should, I should be asking myself, ‘am I equipping them?’ I can encourage them and love on them, but if I am not teaching them, how can I expect them to serve?
2. Equipping is not just preaching.
One of the biggest mistakes that pastors make is the idea that equipping is preaching. Equipping includes preaching but it is much more than that. The role of the pastor is much greater than just preaching on Sunday’s. I like to compare pastoring to parenting. As a dad, I teach my children. However, I do not sit down with them and give them a lecture all the time. I teach them by being involved in their lives. I teach them by being an example to them. I don’t just pour information into them; I lead them by setting a good example for them. Pastor’s, how can we be such an example if we are not there for our people? How can we really equip them if all we do is preach? We cannot just tell people how to serve; we must show people how to serve. Typically, a church will take on the personality of their pastor. If the pastor does nothing but come to church on Sunday and preach, then the church will develop a Sunday-only mentality. In other words, they will begin to think that serving Jesus is just for Sunday. If the pastor does not involve himself in the lives of his people and fellowship with them, then the people in the church will see no need for fellowship. If the pastor has no vision for the church, then the people will have no vision. If the pastor does not grow spiritually, the church will not grow spiritually. The list can go on and on, the point is that to really equip the saints, the pastor must do more than just preach
3. Real equipping makes the pastor’s job easier.
As a pastor equips people for ministry by setting an example for them, the people will begin to see the need to serve. If the pastor has a servants heart and really serves his people in addition to preaching and along with preaching, the people will grow and as they grow they will begin to serve. Part of the role of a pastor is to work himself out of a job. In other words, he is to start and lead ministries as God leads him and then train people to slide into that role of leadership. A pastor should not do everything, nor should the church expect him to. However, a good pastor will train people for ministry and show them how to do the ministry in a hand’s on way and then turn that ministry over to new leaders, which in turn, lightens the pastor’s load.
4. Real equipping produces fruit.
We all want to see fruit. We desire to see souls saved and for the church to grow. When a pastor does his job of real equipping, there will be fruit. A pastor can be assured that he is doing a good job when he sees people getting excited about ministry and taking initiative to serve. They get excited about ministry, not just because of the pastor’s preaching, but because of the example that he sets. If the pastor is excited about serving, so will the church. As people in the church catch on to the pastor’s enthusiasm and his desire for greater spiritual growth, they will begin to serve themselves and produce fruit. Pastors produce fruit by leading others to produce fruit. Pastors cannot lead others to produce fruit unless they are producing fruit in them. In other words, it takes an investment of time and energy and wisdom to produce fruit in others so that they can in turn produce fruit. When this takes place, you have a healthy and growing church.
The equipping work of the pastor is more than just preaching. It is leading by example. It is investing in the lives of others. It is providing hands-on training. May God help us as pastors to equip the saints.