Equip the Saints

As I look back at my time as a pastor, one thing I would do differently would be spending more time with my key leaders, equipping them and including them in pastoral ministry situations. It was always easier to do it by myself. That is why this second of three passages is so important.

In addition to I Peter 5:1-4, the second passage we want to consider that brings clarity to the role of the leader is found in Ephesians 4:11-13. This passage is critical as the leader thinks about how to prioritize their time.

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

This passage does two things:

·         First, it emphasizes the need for the leaders to equip the entire body for ministry.   Shepherds are to care for and equip the saints.

·         Secondly, it elevates both the leader's and the general member’s role in the body of Christ. Both are important and necessary. There is a conscious commitment to see every believer in useful service in the ministry of the church.

For anyone who has been in pastoral ministry, it is easy to see how these can fall by the wayside while the crises and urgent matters take over. Both shepherding and equipping will be pushed aside while other things crowd them out unless leaders recognize the resolve and commitment required of them to insure that shepherding and equipping remain front and center.

As I have taught this material over the years, I often encounter resistance from seminarians who are training to be pastors. Their concern is that a concentration on equipping the non-ordained person somehow diminishes the role of the ordained minister. I often have two responses. One response is serious and the other tongue in cheek. The tongue in cheek response goes something like this, “As soon as you start pastoring people, you will not be opposed to getting help from others, even if they aren’t ordained!”

On a more serious note, I don’t think equipping non-ordained people diminishes the role of the ordained office at all. In fact, I think it elevates it. All ships rise with the tide. If an ordained minister is called to equip the saints, it means that that person is essential to the life and health of the church. This is the mark of good leadership.

Are you spending time with your key leaders or are you just doing ministry solo because it is easier than including others? You may be surprised if you start asking a leader or two to join you. I bet they will consider it a privilege and an honor.

Copyright © 2013 Tim Lane. All rights reserved.

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Tim Lane

Dr. Timothy S. Lane is the President of the Institute for Pastoral Care and has a counseling practice in Fayetteville, GA. He is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), having been ordained in 1991 and a member of Metro-Atlanta Presbytery. Tim has authored Living Without Worry: How to Replace Anxiety with Peace, and co-authored How People Change and Relationships: A Mess Worth Making. He has written several mini-books including PTSD, Forgiving Others, Sex Before Marriage, Family Feuds, Conflict, and Freedom From Guilt.

He has experience in both campus ministry (University of Georgia, 1984-1987) and pastoral ministry where he served as a pastor in Clemson, SC from 1991 until 2001. Beginning in 2001 until 2013, he served as a counselor and faculty at CCEF in Philadelphia, PA (Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation). Beginning in 2007, he served as its Executive Director until 2013.

In 2014, Tim and his family re-located to his home state, Georgia, where he formed the non profit ministry the Institute for Pastoral Care. His primary desire and commitment is to help pastors and leaders create or improve their ability to care for the people who attend their churches.  For more information about this aspect of Tim's work, please visit the section of this site for the Institute for Pastoral Care. He continues to write, speak and travel both nationally and internationally. Tim is adjunct professor of practical theology at several seminaries where he teaches about pastoral care in the local church.