Are we properly equipping the Saints?
Not wanting to go to college, my parents suggested I go into the military, specifically the US Air Force. I did, right after I graduated from high school and a second time after getting my degree.
All of the U.S. military services have basic training bootcamps (enlisted and officer, male or female) that tear down bad civilian habits and build up good military habits so that every individual is motivated and performs the same when called.
While some consider that today’s service members portrayed in Hollywood movies are merely automatons, just machines following orders, the fact is their performance is only enhanced by their individuals personalities and talents that are brought to use in a team environment.
How the military trains individuals as part of a team is how the church should train, if they correctly train at all. But here is our mandate as the body of Christ:
Eph 4:11-12 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;
In order to become a saint, you need to become a believer in Jesus Christ as your Savior. After that, these next steps are essential.
Equipping the Saints…
Having had two meetings recently with two Christian businessmen, they both reenforced my thoughts and experience and I came away with both dread and encouragement. They both, as I have seen over the months since I have published my second book, HWJDB How Would Jesus Do Business?:
- Reenforced what I’m seeing in the church: The failure or weakness of church leaders to fully equip and prepare the body of Christ for their work of service in the marketplace (The marketplace is one part of the Reclaim the 7 Mountains focus, education, government, media, arts and entertainment, family, and religion are the other six. It’s about being the light in ANY area of the secular world, no matter our current assignment).
- Encouraged that all three of us are on the right track to what needs to happen: The need to fully train and equip members for their work of service, NOT to serve their church, but to serve the church, with Christ as the Head. That means to cross not only denominations, but also demographic boundaries (age, sex, race, industry, talents, etc.)!!
The root word is καταρτίζω katartizō and means, “to complete thoroughly, i.e. repair (literally or figuratively) or adjust:—fit, frame, mend, (make) perfect(-ly join together), prepare, restore.”
What does it mean, then, when Pastor/Teachers are to equip their saints (In the Greek, pastors are to be both a shepherd AND a teacher)?
Church leadership should repair lives that are damaged with edification, much like a doctor sets a broken bone, so it can heal. When military members are injured in battle, they’re stabilized with first aid and then moved to the hospital to be taken care of, healed, and if able, put back into service doing their jobs. If someone is not fully functional, they’re not fully productive. If they’re hurt (spiritual, emotions, physical, mental), then healing is what is needed before they’re equipped.
To edify means to “instruct or improve (someone) morally or intellectually.” Bringing someone in “fresh” from the world’s battlefield, let’s get them whole before handing them a weapon, God’s Word, and put them to work in the cause.
When you leave the halls of your church, are you able to take on the rest of the week and do what God has called you to do?
But what does happens in a church? “You’re damaged, leave our church!”
If Jesus healed, should we not heal others, too? And do that first? Get both new converts and old believers healthy first so they can better perform the assignment God has called them to do? We’re to heal then edify everyone and then encourage them in their God-given talents and assignments.
This means that any fighting should be done in the marketplace, not in the church, as a witness of His light in Jesus in this secular world. When Paul talked about the body of Christ being an eye, ear, or foot in 1 Corinthians 12, it means the eyes do not fight with the ear, but work together. While the military might have a “search and destroy” mission, our mission in the marketplace is to “search and share” the gospel so the Holy Spirt can save them. Once they’re saved, help them with God’s Helper the Holy Spirit to repair and heal their heart and soul, then move to the second step.
What does it mean when a church is to prepare or equip its members?
We’re to edify it’s members following these steps:
- Finding out what each individual’s talents and strengths are and what their spiritual gift is and help them develop themselves to increase their ability to perform that which Christ has designed and assigned them to do.
- Connect with other team members that are strong in their weakness and partner up as team member in the cause for Christ.
- Then as a productive team, search out others in the marketplace to serve them.
When it comes to finding out someone many talents and their spiritual gift, not everyone can be in the Special Forces for God, some are in support functions, such as cooks, medics, logistics, administration, ALL are important for the body of Christ. NO ONE is excluded, which means everyone need to find their (who they are) place (where they belong) in the body that fits together for God’s cause.
In essence, they’re to use all of their God-given talents and their one spiritual gift…
…For the Work of Service
Once both actions are done above within the walls of the church, repairing individuals and then rightly equipping them with others and connecting them together as a team for Christ, then we’re ready for the fight. Like a military member that is fully healthy and trained, we’re to be put into battle using the “full armor of God” each doing our God-given assignments with others and for others.
Lastly, regarding Christians in business, here is a quote from a study that compares the results from “blessers” (those in business) and “converters,” (those in the clergy):
“….Russell (2010) studied BAM [editor, Business As Mission] extensively and found that what he called “blessers” (which fit the faithful presence model) had a much better rate of salvations than what he called “converters” (which focus on evangelization alone). The results were startling with a ratio of 48:1 for the “blessers.” Quoted source is here.
Translation: Christians in business who exhibit the Christ-like qualities of the fruit of the Spirit have a higher salvation conversion rate. That means pastors and clergy need to get with God’s program and start influencing and training better marketplace ministers (CEOs, CFOs, CXOs, etc.) and ministries than implementing more church programs and merely see businesses as an ATM to fund their wishes. Church leaders need to see they their role is for “equipping of the saints for the work of service,” if they’re not fully equipping the church, they’re misappropriating their true calling.
If you want to know more about having a Christian business, purchase my book, HWJDB How Would Jesus Do Business? to learn more, then attend the next scheduled Fish Tank Startups Workshop. Because at Fish Tank Startups Workshop, we show you how to put your God-given talents to work in the marketplace for God’s glory.