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Celebrate the Equipping Church

Culture of Doing or Equipping?

How do things get done? Is the staff paid for doing tasks or equipping people? What if we measured our success by how often and how well we equipped people? What if, rather than adding volunteers, we were multiplying leaders?

Before I could answer any of the above questions, it was crucial for me to ask myself: Do I want this person to help me accomplish a task, OR do I have an intense desire to help them reach their God-given potential? How can I serve them and help them realize their purpose?

When I crossed the line of genuinely being more interested in the person rather than using them to accomplish a task, our church began to experience fulfilled volunteers who could not wait for the question …where are you connected in serving? We then saw a shift in our culture toward being one of equipping rather than doing.

From a practical perspective, it is challenging to move from a “doing culture” to an “equipping culture.” As you make the change in your belief system, there are sequential pieces that must be in place to facilitate the change from a doing culture to an equipping culture. You must have:

  • Strong top-level advocacy and embodiment of the vision and values of equipping ministry
  • A point person who is passionate about equipping coupled with a tenacious willingness to nurture others through the equipping process
  • Intentional steps to take each ministry from the “doing mentality” to the “equipping practice” (discovery class, ministry connectors)
  • Comprehensive systems that serve the people and connect everyone to meaningful ministry
  • An environment that rewards equipping people for ministry rather than doing ministry (hire leaders, not doers)
  • Consistent teaching/refinement in all areas of training, affirmation, feedback, evaluation, recognition, and reflection.

Phases of Equipping

You can spend countless hours reading books, attending seminars, conducting training, and mobilizing people—and you should. Our development as trainers and leaders should never stop. As I heard Dr. Howard Hendrix once say, “I don’t want to die until I’m dead!” And he’s right on. There is never a time we will grow out of development. God’s work in us (thankfully!) is never finished. It is for this same reason that equipping should never be viewed as just an event or class, but rather a powerful and pure beginning to a life-long process of developing people. As elementary as this sounds, creating or enhancing a culture of equipping must begin with what you have. I know …duh. But stick with me, we’re talking fundamentals.

Beliefs

Question to Self #1: What is the culture of my church when it comes to developing/equipping others?

We won’t have much of a celebration if we don’t have volunteers to equip or resources in place. So, what is in play? Who’s already on the field? Exactly how many volunteers do you have and what are they doing? Our first step was to clearly delineate what the equipping terminology meant. I met with each department leader and made sure everyone was on the same page. Then we made some solid progress.

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Category: Ministry, Spring 2016

About the Author: Charlene Armitage is a retired educator in the North Kansas City School District. During the time of her service in the NKC School District, she was involved in leadership development in Pleasant Valley Baptist Church in Liberty, Missouri where her husband was Senior Pastor for forty-one years. She and her husband continue to serve on staff at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois.

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