With One Accord: Equipping
The famous American salesman and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar once said, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” So often, particularly within the Church, we go about doing what we have always done. But if we have a plan and a mission to accomplish, then we have a target to aim for.
Our fourth Imperative Statement says, “Together, we envision an Army equipped to fulfill the Great Commission, making disciples by training the head, hand, and heart in salvation warfare.”
According to the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:11, Christ gave five gifts to the Church to equip God’s people. He gave “some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers.” These gifts were given to prepare God’s people for works of service, to build up the body of Christ that they might have unity in the faith, and to be filled with the knowledge of the Son of God, bringing about full maturity so that they might become completely like Christ (vs 12-13).
Notice that Paul reminds his readers that these five gifts were not to do the ministering but were to equip the saints to minister to others.
I believe a corps (church) grows when God’s people are equipped for ministry and when they take their calling into their everyday lives, where they live, move, and have their being (Acts 17:28).
In The Salvation Army, we believe in the “priesthood of all believers” (1 Peter 2:4-5). Therefore, it is not just the officer’s job to spread the gospel message, for we each have a calling to fulfill, guarding against turning our Christianity into a spectator religion.
We live in a searching world, and people are looking in whatever direction they can to find the answers. We need to ensure our people – once having received Jesus as their Lord and Savior – are equipped for the battle. That they know God’s word and know how to present a clear and concise presentation of the gospel message. If we are not equipping the saints – if they are not growing in their relationship with the Lord and their knowledge of His word and using their gifts for ministry – they can become stagnant and apathetic, and dry up and die, spiritually.
So how do we grow? Many things can help equip us for ministry. However, I would like to highlight three. They are:
We grow by praying for each other – praying that we might hunger and thirst for personal righteousness (Matthew 5:6), praying that we might have a love for souls, praying that we would be “equipped with all that is good to do His will, working in [us] what is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ” (Hebrews 13:21).
- God’s Word
Timothy reminds us that “all scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NRSV). No wonder Jesus Himself prayed for His disciples, saying, “Sanctify them by the truth: your word is truth” (John 17:17).
Jesus was diligent in teaching, training, and mentoring His disciples.
If we study the four Gospels, we note that He had them baptize believers (John 3:22, 4:1-2), cast out demons (Matthew 17:14-21), and minister to everyone they encountered. Even though they were not always successful in their endeavors, Jesus used those opportunities to teach them. For three years they came under the tutorage of Jesus and had hands-on ministry training.
Paul was also careful to invest in the life of others. He said, “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful people who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). In writing to the Philippian church, he said, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice” (Philippians 4:9). We must be diligent in training and encouraging each other to spread the gospel message and carry out acts of service.
The Christian’s greatest desire should be to be “conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29) to bring glory to God. That can only happen through prayer, the study of God’s word, and then putting into practice what is learned.
Building the Kingdom is not only the work of the “professionals” but the whole body of Christ. May God help us each to fulfill His great commission (Matthew 28:19-20).
Colonel Deslea Maxwell
(Territorial Secretary for Women’s Ministries)