Most pastors end up program managers whether they want to or not. Though I’ve known some amazing pastors over my lifetime who have been more engaged with equipping people rather than managing them, where might we find them today? If you wanted to help equip others, how would you go about that? And if you wanted help with your journey, where would you look for someone who could be a catalyst for your own journey, rather than lead you after theirs?
Well that opens the door for communication… Sorry you feel that way, Richard, but I disagree. Of course the Holy Spirit is the one who equips us all, but I am convinced there are gifts God has given the body to help people learn to follow Jesus. I appreciate those who give their lives to help others learn how to know and follow Christ. They’ve enriched my life and helped me.
I started here - http://network220.org/, but that’s a very good question, Wayne. I’d love to hear your suggestions.
Excellent questions. Ones I look forward to hear people thoughts on. I know that I can share my story and my hope with others but I can’t do much beyond basic theology with them. Yes, God will provide but how is he doing that? There is a place for learning about God and what he has shared with us through the bible and other believers as well as developing and growing in the relationship. Many on this forum have found the traditional place to do so - denominational institutions - not working so well so that brings us to Waynes’s questions - what is God doing about this? How is he working this out in the world? As I said I look forward to hearing people’s thoughts on his. I don’t have any answers but I have been pondering this, on and off, for awhile now.
I wish I had an elegant three-point plan to give everyone. But I can only share how it works in my own journey.
It has been through being the church together that I have been an instrument of equipping and been on the receiving end, being equipped. It has been in those conversations with other believers where we share what we are learning, what God is doing in our lives, where we struggle and help each other in those struggles, that God has been able to equip me or the people I am talking with. The opportunities arise in just about any situation – casual conversation, a social gathering, an online Bible study, an email exchange, a formal “scripture memorization” group. Anywhere.
And I agree that the temptation is to believe we are so amazing when something we’ve learned helps someone else, but that is simply another opportunity to get my “self” out of the way and let Christ shine.
I haven’t really experienced any “program” intended to equip that has done anything more than try to make me feel guilty for not doing enough spiritual disciplines. Short-term small group discussions and Bible studies with one or more other people have provided a platform for wonderful interactive sharing.
In addition, sometimes a song, a teaching, a shared story, an article, or a book has been a wonderful instrument of equipage. I love to pass things like that on when they’ve helped me, in hopes that another person will gain some value as well.
The greatest times of equipping for me personally are my being aware of, and soaking in the presence of God himself. I don’t underestimate the importance of just hanging with Jesus. It’s huge for me.
I’d love to hear others’ experiences and ideas as well!
I believe our only gospel duty is to keep our eyes on and rest in Jesus. Everything else productive will occur as an outworking or fruit of our progressively growing in seeing more of Him and what we are in union with Him. He’ll then do the walking through us as to where to go and what to do…
Richard, I agree with you. If we see ourselves, and not the indwelling Christ and Holy Spirit, as the initiators of the equipping, we are indeed being prideful and arrogant… And this can and does happen with any of us at any time when we get our eyes off of Him. But He is always faithful to draw us back again!
I believe that the only gift we have is Jesus and all the “gift” attributes are in Him. If we study the spiritual gifts in he bible it’s always in the context and includes “In Christ Jesus”…
I have a best friend who is a catalyst for my own journey. We talk and share ideas and are free to be honest with each other. I feel like our small group has also been a catalyst. We have studied some books of the Bible, some of Wayne’s teachings, some books and a Philip Yancey DVD series. The studies have helped equip us and the discussion has been a catalyst for growth and the sharing of ideas. Time that I spend with God privately is also a time to consider what the Holy Spirit is teaching me and how I am being led. Walks with my husband lead to talks about ideas, concerns, and wonders about our faith. I would like to hope that the times spent with my friends in small group are growing ALL of us, not just myself. I have stopped worrying about people with differing ideas than mine. The Holy Spirit is the one who teaches, ultimately, and convicts.
As a parent, I believe part of my job is equipping my children with the skills to be independent from me one day. However, there is a delicate balance between showing/demonstrating/sharing about how to do things and allowing them to get there via their own personality and inner drive/voice. I have in my head a place that I want them to end up, but I am finding more and more that its Holy Spirit who is guiding me (revising those plans) and reminding me to allow them to hear from and partner with Him in their journey too.
And because I also know God as a Father, I wonder if this isn’t somewhat of the way He would want for us to be equipped. Yes we have Holy Spirit. He is the best guide. But God also has placed people in our lives who have plenty of wisdom and know-how.
I don’t know if today’s pastor of today’s chuch can really be an equipper with all that is on their plates and because yes, they are program managers. It gets sticky too when you realize that they are attempting to equip their people to acheive their own vision and it’s more about that than actually helping the individual grown and mature. That looks and feels like control.
If I wanted to equip others?? Well I would wait to be invited into that space in their lives for certain. And to do that? Rely on Holy Spirit for what to share/model/suggest/challenge. Not being a pastor changes my motivation. Hopefully it would then truly be about helping somone understand their identity and point them down the path of both identity and calling.
Where would I find someone to equip me? Well, again I would be listening to Holy Spirit about where/who to go to and I would be looking for chats over coffee and dinner table discussions and doing life together rather than a seminar or a sermon. That’s where the growth and life happens.
Jane, I am ashamed of my comment because it looked as if I were directed it at Wayne - but I meant it towards those who take God seeking people into their personal dominion and lord over them. I was at a very low and careless point when I wrote the response. I have sent my apologies to Wayne but it is a mistaken wrong that I have caused and must bare. I appreciate his generous response and yours as well.
Richard, no need for shame. I believe this forum is a place to share our hearts openly, spontaneously AND imperfectly knowing that all believers share the same Savior who already did the perfect thing. I see through to your heart which is steadfast and safe in Christ Jesus. It never occurred to me that what you said was against anyone in particular but if Wayne or I (I for one know I need to be reminded!) or anyone else needed to hear it. then the Holy Spirit will illuminate our hearts without condemnation. Romans 8:1 “Therefore, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” I don’t think it was the Holy Spirit that was shaming you.
Wow Heather, what a terrific answer to those questions. Whilst reading it all I could think of was yes! yes! yes!.. I so agree.
Your mention of equipping children as a parent in the skills of being independent from us parents, living and following that inner voice (Holy Spirit), their own personalities shining, knowing who they are, is a great picture to have. For me, turning that towards helping and equipping those that Father puts around us is not a lot different. I certainly hope I would love those in similar fashion as I would my own children…
I love what you said about being invited into that space of equipping others.
If I wanted to equip others?? Well I would wait to be invited into that space in their lives for certain. And to do that? Rely on Holy Spirit for what to share/model/suggest/challenge.
So very key to what I have learnt and it is sooo much better than bowling in uninvited, like the bull that I used to be, the front door opens and I charge so fast through the house I find myself in the back garden before I know it having not benefited a soul on my way through…
Currently I’m reading a book called “Mindfulness for Health,” it’s a book on how to deal with pain and only just really starting it but it’s about turning down pains volume and so far I have had some very positive results. My daughter who is diagnosed with Fibromyalgia started reading this book,she was in a wheelchair, literally housebound and after reading the first couple of chapters and doing the meditations mentioned in the book, she is now on holiday in Portugal with her husband enjoying life. That in itself is an answer to my prayers, it was busting my life to bits but that’s not what I’m here to talk about what I am here to talk about is this… in that book there’s a little insert about a person training a wild horse called a Mustang in the book and you guys who live in the US might know him his name is Monty Roberts. This is what I read…
The little paragraph is called “Patience and the wild mustang.”
One approach to taming a wild Mustang is to break it spirit. It can be beaten into submission by soaking it to a post and then violently yanking on it’s a bit and Bridle until the animal is bent to the trailers will. This does work, in a way, but the horse becomes sullen and suspicious.
A gentle approach is that epitomised by Monty Roberts - “A Horse Whisperer” who trains wild animals by becoming a tuned to their language. He trained a wild Mustang colt. The mustang was strong, and if Monty had used force he’d have become embroiled in an impossible battle. Instead, he allowed the colt to run and run while he followed on behind on his own horse. He let the mustang go wherever it wished. The Colt eventually slowed and acknowledged his presence. At that point, Monty stopped his pursuit and went in the opposite direction. The wild horse then began to follow out of curiosity. Within 2 days, Monty had earned the horses trust and just hours later I rider was on its back.
When I read that I thought, " isn’t that a bit like I feel the Holy Spirit training me to let go of my way and take onboard His ways… follow the path He wants to lead me on. It’s ever so gentle and kind and He does often gather up my curiosity as I follow what is laid in my heart, nudges etc. Gladly he does not want to put a rider on my back after two days or ever…
To extend what I am learning in this and how I would equip others, it would be a very calm gathering of who that person really is and a gentle inviting if I felt it appropriate to some differing social gathering. Definitely not structured or planned!!!
If I want help in my own journey I look to those I trust and are further up the path to myself…
Here’s a link to the book should anyone want it who has pain banging on the door often… I started it as I have Severe OA in my knees… it has helped turn pains volume down already… (Hope it doesn’t sound like I’m trying to advance the sales of this book… )
The last half of this chapter listed traits of people that are catalysts, and I liked those descriptions a lot… however I’m not sure where to find these people (or if it’s even a geographical place, a house, a building, a website, or even a book, etc.)… Although I would say that as I recently prayed and laid down some of my tightly held pet peeves, pet doctrines, pet projects, etc., (which was very difficult to do), and I seriously asked God for some help… some folks did seem to appear, in a way that I could find them… So I guess (in a way) you find them in Christ… Although you don’t find them, the Holy Spirit guides you to them, or guides them to you… It often seems to happen while you are learning to relax into God’s love, and letting go of some toxic things in your life. As you do that, others will see it and take notice… or God will bring others in due time, when the time is right.
This process can take a long time, and it can be very frustrating… It might be that God is working out a lot of things in you… So it’s all good… It isn’t that we are bad and God is punishing us by denying us friends… it’s more like it’s as if He’s trying to grow us into beautiful flowers, and it might just take some extra time to cultivate the ground, in just the right way, so the flowers can grow to be the best flowers possible…
If I were to help others, I would start by simply being friendly and having some friendly conversations . I would then try to show them God’s love, and if they seemed interested, I might show them books like this one (“Finding Church”). I would then give them space to grow and space to see if they paid attention to anything I told them. I would also try to remember to refrain from trying to force my ideas on others, which only seems to cause hard feelings. I’m currently trying to learn to give people space, and to give the Holy Spirit the space to work.
I have known a small number of pastors that did promote this sort of thing (like living by God’s love and avoiding self-effort) although it has been very rare. I have known of people like Mr. Gayle Erwin for years (who Wayne mentioned). I have also found books by a few other authors, some of which, I later found that Wayne mentioned that he worked with also.
If I needed help in my journey, I think I would try to contact someone that was experienced and has been down the road of this journey for some time. I am very shy, and reaching out in this manner has been difficult for me. I can say that this discussion forum has been a great help or a catalyst for me… A few years ago I would have refused to be on a discussion group like this, because I would have assumed this forum was only for Wayne’s 50 closest friends. However, as I noticed many of my old friends no longer associating with me, I looked for others to associate with. I then saw Wayne inviting people to this new book discussion group that he was about to start, and I had such a strong hunger for it, that I couldn’t stop myself from joining. And I have loved every bit of it.
Bailey, NC (USA)
I like that, Lenny. What I was hoping to do here is to get people to look beyond the normal places of “ministers”, authors, websites, and discipleship schools and get people to think in terms of people who live these realities out in their life every day without having to make a big splash about it. Find someone who is living the way you want to live, whose live exudes peace and rest, even in the most brutal of circumstances. Most of the genuine “elders” in this family I’ve met over the years are normal people who resist the visibility of a “ministry” job or title.
Do you know how much it would bless someone near you to be asked, “You seem to live a life in Jesus I admire, and wonder if we could get together now and then and you could help me learn to live how Jesus is taking shape in me.” They’ll defer, no doubt, not wanting to be considered an expert. And they won’t want you to copy them, but they will help you learn how to listen and follow in the real course of life. They may even have some ideas about what you could read to help, and then ask if you could get together periodically to discuss what you’re reading.
I know there are many equipped-types who have gone into Life Coaching, as a way to help others and provide an income stream. I have some friends who do it and that can be very helpful, but again, you’d have to have the money to do it. And money always makes things more complicated…
As far as those who want to help others, the best way I know is through hospitality. Invite people into your life over meals, football games, etc. Get to know them. As the Spirit leads find ways to encourage them without them necessarily even knowing it. You don’t have to start a study or get a commitment from them. Just be in and near their lives to ask the question or make the observation that can help open their eyes to another reality.
Thanks Ian. I appreciate your kind words. I love that analogy of training a wild horse. Breaking its will can get you there, but you lose something in that ransaction. Also, thank you for your book recommendation. I have a friend dealing with pain that has yet to be diagnosed (closest is fibromyalgia). We have been looking for any help we can find to help her.
I was an Elder of a House Church for a few years and I believed at the time I was doing it for the right reasons, but it is true the Program starts to take priority and the more I tried to engage people in the programs the further I felt away from the Father. Was there some pride and arrogance involved? Yes there was, but that is not saying that everyone has these issues, only by starting on this new journey has the Father made me aware of thoughts and actions which motivated me instead of my journey to get to know more of Him.
I have been a “Christian” 30 years next year and I have asked Father why it has taken me so long to see how life in Jesus flows from His heart and I can say his reply was “You weren’t ready.”
The men who remain Elders in the House Church would say that they are doing it for the right reasons as well and they are wanting to see the people they serve to know more about Jesus and I am looking to the Father for a time I can speak of the things that have changed in my life but I know that at present they would not receive it.
I am only at the start of this journey and I still have many questions and things to work out with Father, but I have found that even in this short time he has spoken to me in small ways that would previously have been drowned out by my desire to “serve”.
The Father is the one who I now turn to first if I want help with my journey and He has sent friends who have encouraged me to continue to seek His heart. Lifestream and The God Journey have been a great help when I have questions but they are not Jesus so I look at Him first.
As for equipping others I have found again that rather than setting out to “equip others” the Father has sent people across my path who I can share how my journey is flowing into the heart of Father.
Before I would have come away from conversations with people thinking, “I should have said this, or that.” but now I come away thinking it was sufficient for the time and knowing that Father loves them with all His heart also and I can leave them in His Hands.
Hey guys. I am missing being involved in these posts as my wife and I are flat chat doing up our family home to rent out while at the same time, we are working to shift up to a small remote property we have owned for many years as a respite for my chronic health condition. That involves upgrading what is essentially a flash bush hut into something liveable and also installing satellite Internet so we can continue being connected with friends family and online communities such as this one.
As I have been mulling over chapter 18 (great work Wayne), I felt to share something which I will apologise ahead of time for being a little lengthy – as I already mention, I will not have many opportunities to interact over the next six months or so, so I will take advantage of any opportunities when they arise to chuck something into the pot so to speak.
One of the things that has rested on my heart over many years when trying to understand how our heavenly dad intended those we call elders or shepherds to function within his ‘body’ (the local family community of believers) is the need for a perspective or overview of God’s salvation in and through Jesus which when presented in a simple enough form, could not only give us an understanding of how God is approaching rescuing humanity, but could (in my mind) also help give us a simple and obvious understanding of the role we would all play in the local family community. And from there, (hopefully) such an understanding should make it relatively easy for us to deduce what the role or function is that Jesus is training shepherding elders to be responsible for in his family community.
To start with, for me, there is in my mind an astonishing simplicity to what I call the gospel (good message) – in that the ‘good message’ to all humanity is actually all about a person (Jesus) and how a friendship with him will rescue you out of the cosmic catastrophe all humanity is doomed by; a situation we find ourselves in thanks primarily to the lies and deception of a certain ‘alien invader’ and his mates from the spirit realm who persuades us to trust him to be our ‘parent’ rather than trust our creator dad in this life.
When we are talking about truth or sound teaching/doctrine (orthodoxy) in relation to ‘who God is as a person, what is our situation in this life, what is the cause of our situation, what were we meant to be like, what is God’s rescue plan and what will be the restoration of all things – what we are really talking about here is actually summed up in our understanding of ‘who Jesus is’ and ‘what is the basis of an essential friendship with him’.
For me, the simplest breakdown of ‘who Jesus is’ would be:
• Jesus is our God (Yahweh in human flesh).
• Jesus is our Redeemer (our sinless human substitute who releases us from the consequences for “doing harm”).
• Jesus is our Saviour (he is the one we walk with, work with and play with to be reconciled to God) [i.e. we ‘walk’ with him as our friend, ‘work’ with him as our Messiah/King and ‘play’ with him as our big brother]
And again, for me, the simplest breakdown of ‘what is the basis of an essential friendship with him’ is quite simply our responding personally to Jesus himself and to the ‘gifted favour’ based (saving) friendship/relationship he offers all humanity and all he is looking for from us is our responding to him with a childlike trust of him and of his amazing love for us as his ‘bride’, ‘body’, family and now, his brethren.
In previous posts, I have made mention of how we are all (the whole body/community/family) invited by our new heavenly dad to be involved in the work of ‘feeding, watering and protecting’ so that he can do the work he does of producing ‘growth, strength and fruit’ in us individually and collectively as his family. And my pointing out that subsequently, we all have equal authority in the work of ‘feeding watering and protecting’:
• Where ‘feeding’ speaks of building up each other’s trust/confidence of ‘who Jesus is’ and building up our trust/confluence of ‘the basis of an essential friendship with’.
• Where ‘watering’ speaks of exampling what a ‘gifted favour’ based saving friendship/relationship with Jesus is all about for what it looks like.
• Where ‘protecting’ speaks of our maintaining the ‘gifted favour’ based (essential) friendship/relationship that we enjoy through the correct understanding of ‘who Jesus is’ and through the correct understanding of ‘what is the basis of an essential friendship with him’ against the many voices claiming something different, especially those claiming that to first receive, or then to continue to receive Gods saving favour (grace) is through you earning, deserving or meriting it in one way shape or form or another.
In short, we are all responsible for graciously correcting those endorsing much of the typical outrageous ‘nomistic’ soteriology that the Christian religion is famous for which it has been teaching for the best part of the last two millennia – with its ‘gifted favour’/grace based (saving) friendship/relationship with God allowing us to be adopted into his family – but then to continue as an adopted son or daughter, suddenly God’s gifted saving favour oxymoronicly now becomes conditional to your trust and submission to certain right or ‘essential’ doctrinal truth, to your submission to certain standards of righteousness and holiness and becomes conditional to certain service to God in this life [something that is a ‘favour’ or is ‘gifted’ cannot be ‘conditional’ to anything] – and also ironically, this (oxymoronic) conditional favour based relationship with God (and each other) is also always conditional to our trust and submission to those who teach whatever is supposedly the superior version of these three areas!
Consequently, now, our knowing God and being right with him (and his Kingdom family) is suddenly all about being in the right group with the right teachings and having the right teacher teaching you his superior version of these three areas and is conditional to your trusting and submitting and being loyal to all of that – which now is supposed to provide everyone with the basis for your peace and assurance that God loves and accepts you as one of his kids and that you do belong to him and his Kingdom family!
The role or function of shepherding elders (as I see it at this time of my journey) is one of being overseers/guardians of a family community walking, working and playing with Jesus and each other in oneness and unity, freedom and love as one family under one father on a local level worldwide as we all learn in our own individual and unique way to ‘feed, water and protect’ that (essential) trust of Jesus himself and learn how to ‘feed water and protect’ the subsequent friendship with him that comes from that trust – which will always bear the fruit of love, trust and a subsequent friendship between his children in a family community.
My point here is that shepherding elders exercise an authority no different to any other believer (son or daughter) – however, they can be recognised by the local community/family by the insight our creator dad gives them in understanding his salvation in and through Jesus and their subsequent ability to articulate what is most important re-‘the good message’ – which is of course articulating ‘who Jesus is’ and articulating ‘the basis of an essential friendship/relationship with him’. It is those abilities which also provides the local community worldwide with the insights needed to help us all deal graciously, kindly, supportively, respectfully, generously but firmly with those being destructive to our ‘oneness and unity, freedom and love’………….