Greetings Our Metro Family,
Noreen and I have been thinking about the subject of "equipping the saints" and we want to share some thoughts with all of you.
As we have reflected upon what we have accomplished at Beautiful Gate Fellowship in Nepal, as well as our past years of experience, we keep coming back to the need for true discipleship style teaching and training. We were talking along these same lines in Nepal a couple of months ago. Goma was asking about how to raise us good leaders for the new village church plants. So I turned the question around and asked, "How did you learn to really minister and pray effectively for people?" She very quickly responded that she never understood how to pray for people nor did she have faith to pray for people with power until she saw it being modeled in a real ministry circumstance. What I am getting at is that is takes time ministering alongside one another to have the revelations and understanding of spiritual power and authority imparted to you. I believe that if we look at the equipping of the saints in the context of equipping them to exercise their God-ordained spiritual gifts we will have a solid and measurable place to start. I personally favor the gift of prophecy, as Paul did, so I work hard at modeling that gift around those who I long to see prophesy, which is just about everybody. I deliberately and intentionally encourage others in this gift which I value so much. But the same thing can be said for all spiritual gifts. (See Romans 12 & 1 Corinthians 12 for a list of some spiritual gifts.)
We both believe that being equipped for ministry is the same thing as experiencing the Presence of God in a specific and focused way. Experiencing the Presence of God like this must be modeled and it takes time. Modeling "experiencing the Presence of God" is such a big subject to us. It involves lots of sharing what we are hearing God say to us in all kinds of situation, communication between believers around intimacy with God. I think it involves the learner learning something in real time as the mature person/teacher is also experiencing something on a spiritual level. I think this is the true equipping that all of us need. The deepest and most life changing times of my life have happened during small, intimate times of worship and prayer with someone who God was using to disciple me and visa versa. As I look back upon these times I realize that sometimes this was conscious and intended, but most of the time it just happened by spending time seeking God with other gifted believers who were "about the Father's business". Maybe we want to find a short cut or maybe we are trying to train too many people at once so that it turns into a class instead of a discipleship relationship. I realize that I have understanding inside of my heart and mind that others have not received yet. I cannot just teach this with words, I must spend enough time with that person in a prayerful and spiritual mode that they can receive it too.
I don't think we do enough of "demonstrating the things of the Spirit". We need to have others with us, in a learning and assisting role, while we are ministering to others. Or when we are just waiting on God or reading our Bibles in a devotion type setting. Now this puts the onus on all of us. The phrase "the equipping of the saints" is from Ephesians 4:11-13. The same verses also indicate a partial list of those who should do the equipping. It takes two to tango, as the saying goes.
Here are our final thoughts on the subject. Leaders "get into intentional discipleship relationships." Yes, it takes time and a lot of yielding to the Holy Spirit to go along with what seems like a slow, plodding course, but it's God's way and there are no short cuts. Saints, "get into intentional discipleship relationships" and you will be encouraged as you grow in spiritual strength and stature.
Let us end this letter on this subject by summarizing it like this, "We think we need more true discipleship relationships in order for true equipping of the saints to happen."
Be blessed, our Metro Family, and grow in the knowledge of the wonderful love of God!
In Jesus....Bill and Noreen Barlow