Equipping Your Team
Equipping people to serve, achieve higher performance, attain goals, and become better people is what leadership is all about. As a leader, a part of your legacy is developing other people and growing your team.
Jesus Christ was the ultimate equipper. In Ephesians 4:11-12, we see five ministry gifts that are given by Jesus Christ to the church “to equip his people for works of service,” namely apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors (shepherds) and teachers. Jesus Christ demonstrated all five of these gifts throughout his ministry so that his disciples could see them in action, and learn how to fulfill their assignment after Christ’s ascension.
The five gifts, working together in unity, provide a divinely inspired organizational framework...
The Apostle Paul explains that in Christ, there is a vibrant, new spiritual household in which all believers play a vital role in building the kingdom of God. The five gifts, working together in unity, provide a divinely inspired organizational framework for the New Testament church and virtually any enterprise. Because these gifts are rooted in the nature of God and given by Christ himself, they enable every disciple to participate in building the body of Christ. The five gifts are interdependent on one another, complementary to one another and essential for an organization to thrive.
We need a better understanding of the vital role that each of these five gifts play.
1. Apostle – The Vision Builder
The word “apostle” means a sent one. It was a military term originally used to describe an envoy sent out to conquer territory and convert the population into the culture and language of the empire and thus establish the dominion of the king – the kingdom. In the same way, when Jesus sent out his disciples to the villages of Galilee with instructions to proclaim the kingdom of God, he was preparing them to eventually be sent out into all the world to establish new territory for the kingdom of God and fulfill the Great Commission.
Today’s apostolic leaders are vision builders, pioneers, strategists and innovators who use entrepreneurial skills to plant new churches, launch new ministries and set up new organizations. Apostles play the unique role of unifying and activating the body of Christ around a shared vision for advancing the kingdom.
1 Peter 5:8-9 reminds us: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” These leaders must be equipped to stand firm and resist, as they are on the front lines of spiritual warfare. As leaders of other leaders, they also equip others to govern and steward the church.
2. Prophet – The Guide
The word “prophet” means one who speaks on behalf of God. Prophets are the revelation of God’s voice, which is to declare God’s will in a matter. This is an awesome responsibility which is often associated with agitators like John the Baptist who remind people of God’s covenantal justice and demand holy obedience to his Word. Sometimes considered annoying or outright disruptive, they question the status quo when the church has slipped into compromise and call out the false teachers who may lead the church into hypocrisy and heresy.
While their “call it as they see it” bluntness may upset some, their passion is to equip the saints by calling for holy obedience to God and his Word. They help apostles, evangelists, pastors and teachers to stay on course with God’s assignment by confirming the vision and future direction of ministry. To fulfill this vital role, they need great discernment and wisdom and must be immersed in the Word of God. Because this gift can be misused, it is vital that prophets speak with both grace and truth.
3. Evangelist – The Promoter/Recruiter
“Evangelists” are the ones who bring good news. They are the promoters of the church, proclaiming the kingdom and persuading people to respond. While we often think of evangelists speaking to a large crowd, there are many evangelists who are at their best speaking one-on-one to a lost person just as Christ did with the woman at the well (John 4). The unique burden of an evangelist is those who do not know Jesus. Their passion is to see people reconciled to God through Christ.
Most evangelists are naturally outgoing and able to communicate effectively and winsomely with a diverse group of people. Evangelists equip others to effectively proclaim the gospel as well; they train soul winners.
4. Pastor/Shepherd – The Community Builder
In contrast to the evangelist whose focus is reaching out, the focus of a “pastor/shepherd” is reaching in. Pastors lead, protect and nurture people with a passion to gather the community for worship and teaching. They are passionate about imparting values, caring for individual needs and building community.
Pastors must be equipped to mobilize people to action by recognizing and deploying the gifts of others. They equip others by creating opportunities for service so that every person can make a contribution to “building up” the body of Christ. The result is people who are experiencing spiritual health and wholeness.
5. Teacher – The Knowledge Leader
Those who are “teachers” bring Scripture to light, unpacking the truth in ways that are life-transforming. As knowledge leaders, teachers equip others through instruction in biblical wisdom so that the body of Christ can discern truth from error, and stay on course toward spiritual maturity. They are equipped to reveal God’s Word in ways that bring practical application. Their mandate can be found in 2 Timothy 3:16-17: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
It Takes all Five!
People with these five gifts form the nucleus of an effective team, and each one plays a vital role in accomplishing God’s purpose.
Equipping people is a team sport. People with these five gifts form the nucleus of an effective team, and each one plays a vital role in accomplishing God’s purpose. Without even one of them, a leadership team is incomplete, imbalanced and may be highly dysfunctional. But you cannot build an effective five-fold team unless you are able to recognize and activate these gifts in others.
Where do you start?
- Discover your gift and that of your team with a team assessment. You can find assessment resources at 5QCentral. An effective five-fold leadership team has a keen sense of awareness of their own giftedness, and the giftedness of others. You will know why each member is important and how to collaborate to achieve a common objective.
- Affirm and celebrate what each team member brings to the group. Actively discuss how each member’s gift contributes to building your church, organization or business. Take the time to discover how each person sees themselves exercising their gift.
- Realign the roles to more accurately fit the gifts and callings. Consider who on your team is underutilized and needs a fresh challenge, or who is misaligned in their job and needs a different role.
- Release your team to activate their gifts! When this happens, watch for new synergies and opportunities to emerge. Watch for how God may use you and your team to demonstrate how operating in the five-fold ministry makes a difference.
If you have people with these five gifts working together, then you will have a dynamic and powerful team!
Ron Frey is President of Frey Resource Group, a strategic and creative consulting firm that helps nonprofit organizations inspire joyful generosity and achieve extraordinary success in fundraising. He has trained and consulted with hundreds of organizations on branding, donor communications, major gifts, foundation grants and capital campaigns.