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The Equipping Church Guidebook

The Equipping Church Guidebook

by Sue Mallory, Brad Smith

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Like a building site well-stocked with quality raw materials, your church abounds with possibilities--life-changing ministries just waiting to be developed. The Equipping Church Guidebook shows you how. Refining and expanding groundbreaking material, this in-depth approach helps you identify, equip, and empower lay ministers who will profoundly influence your


Like a building site well-stocked with quality raw materials, your church abounds with possibilities--life-changing ministries just waiting to be developed. The Equipping Church Guidebook shows you how. Refining and expanding groundbreaking material, this in-depth approach helps you identify, equip, and empower lay ministers who will profoundly influence your church and your community. Behind this volume lies a massive body of research on hundreds of equipping churches across the country. Now you and your leadership team can reap the benefits with this exhaustive, hands-on resource. Nothing else compares with it. Designed and field-tested by today’s leading architects of equipping ministry, Leadership Training Network, The Equipping Church Guidebook is a blueprint for custom-building the systems and culture that are ideal for your church. Part one, Building an Equipping Ministry Vision and Culture, explains what an equipping church is, walks you through the conceptual stages, and helps your church transition to equipping vision and values. Part two, Building an Equipping Ministry System, helps you lay relational and strategic foundations, and then build on them an equipping system that gives structure and effectiveness to every aspect of church life. The Equipping Church Guidebook includes
• Detailed information, clear instructions, and helpful examples
• Abundant charts, graphs, and diagrams
• Worksheets and assessment forms to help you apply the concepts in this book
• Practical suggestions and checklists
• "Contractors Conferences" to foster dialogue and decision-making as a leadership team Together with The Equipping Church, this guidebook helps you and your leadership team catch and implement the vision of Ephesians 4:11-13--equipping the saints for works of service that lead to spiritual maturity--in your church. One of the most challenging and exciting journeys in your church’s life lies ahead of you. Let the adventure begin!

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Read an Excerpt

The Equipping Church Guidebook

Your Comprehensive Resource
By Sue Mallory Brad Smith


Copyright © 2001 Zondervan
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-310-23957-5

Chapter One

Why Equipping Ministry?

Clarify the Purpose to All Involved

Preparing the ground to either begin an equipping ministry or enhance what you already have in place is important work. It doesn't have to be complicated, but it generally is more work and takes more time than most church leaders estimate. Why? Because an equipping ministry affects every area of your church in some way. Many more people have to be brought into the dialogue than if you were simply starting a new program in one area of your church.

Many church leaders who have successfully built a churchwide equipping ministry say it is very similar in time and effort to a building program. The first step of a building program involves understanding why you are doing it and effectively articulating the purpose to the church. The case for a building program must be connected clearly to your mission, or else the congregation will not support it with the necessary funds. Even later, if the purpose of the building program is not clearly understood and monitored, the architects and contractors will likely have a field day adding gadgets and gizmos that your church doesn't really need. If you design the building without asking every major stakeholder what he or she wants in the finished product, you will likely have constant conflict and last-minute expensive additions along the way. Even after that, as unexpected costs require certain cuts from the wish list, you must keep members involved in the discussions about what changes must be made and why. If done well, in the end every person should have a high degree of ownership and excitement about the finished product. Accomplishing this often involves starting more slowly at the front end to gain ownership and clarity of vision, so that you can move more quickly later on as more people own the vision and sign on as willing participants.

This chapter will help you form and articulate the vision for why you are building an equipping ministry. For church leaders who are asking why, this chapter will provide some fodder for discussion. For church leaders who are saying, "We're already on board, but we need some facts, figures, and ideas on how to cast this vision to the rest of the congregation," this chapter will meet that need as well.


In this chapter we will reflect on the following questions:

What are the biblical imperatives that make this purpose an important and pivotal part of your work?

What is changing in society to make this vision more urgent?

What is changing in the church that makes equipping ministry more of an imperative?

How has God preceded you?

What needs in your church will this address?


Across all Christian denominations we find a history of theological support for gift-based service in ministry carried out by all believers. The emphasis and methods may vary, and there may be huge disparities at times between the theology and practice of equipping ministry, yet there is an amazing agreement on the central points. In large part this is due to the many scriptural references on the subject. In the pages ahead we'll refer to these texts and their significance for equipping ministry. You can build on these passages as you develop Bible studies, write sermons, and create vision pieces to educate and inspire your congregation about the importance of serving through giftedness in order to build up the body of Christ.

Seven Ways to Summarize the Biblical Imperatives

Imperative 1-A ministry of serving others is an act of love for and devotion to Christ.

Any equipping ministry system should emphasize this aspect of serving others. Ministry, above all else, is an act of worship. Worship is not merely an event that occurs at 10 A.M. or 11 A.M. on Sunday morning. Worship involves a minute-by-minute mind-set of acknowledging that God is the Creator, and we are the creatures. Worship is recognizing our place of submission before a God who gives us our purpose. We do not own our time, family, possessions, or even our calling. We receive these things from God and "steward" them for God. A person gifted with vision worships God by giving vision to others, while recognizing that this gift came from and is used in submission to God's purposes. People gifted to serve can worship God by serving others, not to gain human appreciation, but out of the recognition that they are created to be "serving creatures" who have God's thumbprints all over them. These thumbprints reveal God's intentionality in the way each of us was created. We worship God when we do what God created us to do.

I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. For through the grace given to me I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them accordingly.
Romans 12:1-6A NASB

See also Matthew 25:31-46.

Imperative 2-God has a unique purpose or calling for each of our lives.

All Christians-clergy, staff members, laypersons, leaders, followers, men, women, children, the physically fit, and those with disabilities-are priests. God knew before we were born what he intended our purpose and calling to be. Thus, we don't choose our own calling, and we cannot be "anything we want to be." The purpose God created us for is where we find the greatest rest, the greatest honor, the greatest joy, and the greatest connection to God, ourselves, each other, and the world in which we live.

In that light, consider the word volunteer, which is used freely in churches. It implies that you "choose" to do something optional or extraordinary. If you are created with a purpose and specifically gifted to accomplish that purpose, how is what you were created to do from the beginning of time an act of volunteerism? Gift-based service is not an optional activity, but the activity for which we were created.

For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:10

You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ....

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
1 Peter 2:5, 9-10

The word of the Lord came to me, saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."
Jeremiah 1:4-5

Imperative 3-We all have been given gifts to fulfill our calling.

As we use the gifts God has given us, we accomplish his will. Just as God's purpose for each of us is unique, so are the gifts he gives us.

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Peter 4:10-11

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
Psalm 139:13-16

See also 1 Corinthians 12-14, as well as Exodus 35-40, which tells the story of the tremendous variety of gifts and skills the Israelites offered for the building of the tabernacle.

Imperative 4-Gifts are given not to be left idle, but to be used in community, to serve God and others.

The purpose of spiritual gifts is not to build up the individual, but to serve the community. Each of us grows in spiritual maturity as we use our gifts. God has a specific purpose for every person, and in using our gifts in service we glorify God and grow in relationship with him.

We don't seek our gifts with the attitude of "tell me my gifts so I can do what fulfills me most and thereby find my calling and my joy and say to everything else, 'I don't do windows.'" Gifts are given to serve the body of Christ, not to serve ourselves.

Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
Romans 12:4-8

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.

The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ....

But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.
1 Corinthians 12:4-12, 18

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Peter 4:10-11

Jesus called them together and said, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
Mark 10:42-44

See also Matthew 25:14-30

Imperative 5-We more deeply understand our personal relationship with Christ as we serve in community.

We do not live to ourselves, but we are called to live in community. When we express the attitude that we could walk more closely with Christ if it weren't for "other people," we counter the very purpose of our commitment to Christ, namely, to love others as Christ has loved us. The Great Commandment and the Great Commission are based on the understanding that we are called to live in community, and our personal relationship with Christ must be grounded in the accountability, grace, patience, and love that only community can provide.

God uses the relationships, challenges, and joys of gift-based service to teach us about our relationship with him. Our walk with God is not about "me and my God," but about "us and our God."

"My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit-fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other."
John 15:12-17

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?"

"Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you."

Jesus said, "Feed my lambs."

Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?"

He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."

Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep."

The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?"

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you."

Jesus said, "Feed my sheep."
John 21:15-17

From [Christ] the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.


Excerpted from The Equipping Church Guidebook by Sue Mallory Brad Smith Copyright © 2001 by Zondervan. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
'I'm delighted to give my unqualified endorsement of this book on equipping lay members for ministry in today's church. Lay leaders and pastors should read it and take it to heart. It will make a difference in your church.' -- Alan Loy McGinnis, , Author

'Sue Mallory, perhaps the country's leading practitioner, shows that way forward from proclamation to demonstration to the church's next season. You will find here a remarkable balance of pragmatics and deeply rooted passion -- both the way to and the how to. An enormously useful book.' -- Bob Buford, , Author

'Sue Mallory knows more about lay ministries than anyone alive today. At long last she shares her vast wealth of hands-on knowledge.' -- Bill Easum, , President

'In the kingdom of God there are few gentle giants. Sue Mallory is one of them. At the core, and running through every effective gift-based ministry model, is the theme of stewardship. In this book you will find biblical foundations and life applications to be able to hear 'Well done, good and faithful servant.'' -- Bruce Bugbee, , President

'A pioneer in equipping ministries, Sue Mallory has made a profound impact on how congregations fulfill their ministries. 'The Equipping Church' is refreshingly visionary and as practical as one of her popular workshops.' -- Lovett H. Weems Jr., , President

Meet the Author

Author of The Equipping Church and co-author of The Equipping Church Guidebook, Sue is celebrating her 19th year in full time ministry. Sue served as the founding Executive Director of Leadership Training Network (LTN) for eight years and more recently as the Directional Leader and Executive Director for Leadership Connection. Sue is currently serving as Executive Consultant for Church Volunteer Central, a division of Group Publishing. Sue continues to consultant and train nationally on the vision and mission of an equipping church. Additionally, Sue has served as adjunct faculty at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, Guest Lecturer at Princeton Theological Seminary and is currently serving as adjunct faculty at Fuller Theological Seminary. In 1985, Sue developed the office of Lay Ministry at her local church, Brentwood Presbyterian Church, where she served in a volunteer capacity as its full-time director for eight years, part-time Director of Leadership Development for two y?

Brad Smith (ThM, Dallas Theological Seminary) is president of Leadership Network. As a former U.S. Senate aide, consultant to churches and business, and founding pastor and church planter, Brad has developed people-equipping processes in a variety of settings.

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