Called to Encourage

If you are a ministry leader of any kind, then at least part of your job is to recruit, train and encourage to volunteers you lead. This is not only part of your job, but it's also a command.

Ephesians 4:12 tells us we're responsible "to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ." As a ministry leader you are called and commanded to be equipping the people of your local congregation for the work of ministry. This is THE way healthy churches grow. Why is this case and how do we as leader do it? This post will attempt to answer both.

The Why

Why are pastors and leaders called and commanded to equip the saints? The simple answer is found in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19). We are called to make disciples. Part of making disciples and part of being a disciple is helping those discover and exercise the calling God has placed in their hearts. God uniquely gifts each believer in a way that will be a benefit to the church.

Part of discipleship is helping people realize the necessity and value of serving. They need this is valuable to their growth, as well as those to whom those these gifts are serving. The believer grows through the process of preparing to serve; the sharpening of their skills and knowledge, and those they are serving learn through being taught within the context of community and relationships. Many have said that all ministry is relational. Equipping people is the way of making this reality.


So how do we "equip the saints"? I've found this simple formula helpful:

Good vision + curriculum + good training = encouraged teachers.

A good vision is worth putting your all into in order to see it accomplished. This vision needs to be communicated regularly and can always be refined. Helping those who serve see the aim will allow them to see how it's accomplished as well as how they themselves need to grow. The communication of this vision should be a regular part of any training we do.

Good curriculum, in my opinion, teaches the whole counsel of God in a gospel-centered way. There are quite a few out there. Four of the best I've seen are: Children Desiring God, The Jesus Storybook Bible, Gospel Story for Kids, and Gospel Project for kids. There are of course many more good choices (if you know of others, please leave a comment for me to check out). I like these because they introduce kids to Jesus, not just teach about Him.

Parents looking for good stuff to use for family devotions should check out books like: Long Story Short and Old Story NewExploring Grace Together, Training Hearts, Teaching Minds, and Big Truths for Young Hearts. If those aren't your thing, try catechisms like: the New City Catechism app, or the North Star Catechism (co-authored by our own Jared Kennedy). These are short, simple and fun helps that draw kids closer to Jesus. There are of course more out there (... and again if you know of them, please leave a comment for me to check out.)

Good training, comes down to a simple formula: I do, you watch; you do, I watch; you do. This is a simple way to see how to do what's being asked of them as well as how they can add their own unique personality to it. I don't want to just throw a new teacher or helper (or even parent) to the wolves of expectation without giving them a picture of how to successful accomplish the goal.

If these steps are followed, the result will be an encouraged teacher. Whether they are a new teacher or helper, a new parent or a parent that is new to family devotions, they will feel not only encouraged but equipped to fulfill what God is calling them to do; so much so that they will delight in the challenge.

With the proper encouragement, teachers will see ministry less as duty to perform and more as a blessed calling. And that is the way God designed it.