Do you recall the Chinese proverb: A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step? Efforts in building a church that encourages serving is like taking those first steps. In other words, culture changing is an ongoing process—you never cross it off your list and say you’re done.
However, you can determine where you currently are— in order to evaluate where you still need to go. Here are six statements that will help you identify areas where more attention is needed toward embracing the values of an equipping culture. Have your leadership team rate these statements, using a scale of 1 through 10—with 1 meaning “this is not the case at our church,” and 10 indicating “this is the established norm at our church.”
- Gift-based service is a frequent topic in worship messages. Your church has a weekly opportunity to cast the vision for equipping. Does the lead pastor promote the biblical message of the giftedness of all believers? Do people understand that the call to discipleship involves serving?
- Lay people are regularly and visibly lifted up as “heroes” for their service in the church and community. For equipping church values to permeate the culture, you have to do more than talk about them. Stories about and by people involved in serving are key to building an equipping culture.
- Paid staff are evaluated more by how they equip others than by program goals. For example, will the children’s ministry director be evaluated by how many kids attend Vacation Bible School this summer or by how many volunteers will serve in that ministry? Is staff challenged to increase the number of people involved in their ministry each year?
- The church is known for being involved with ministry in the community. The natural outcome of healthy equipping churches includes involvement in community-transforming ministry. As you engage additional people in ministry, you won’t have enough roles inside the church to accommodate the number of people willing to serve—therefore, you now have people for ministry placement within the community.
- Workplace and community involvement are seen as ministry. There is not a large division between sacred and secular service. Equipping is about people using their gifts in all that they do to glorify and serve God. That is part of the vision to cast in order to move towards whole life ministry.
- When people are sick or need pastoral care, they are more likely to be ministered to (and expect to be ministered to) by other lay people rather than pastoral staff. A hospital visit from a lay person is seen as real ministry. The senior pastor is not expected to make every hospital call, shut-in visit, or worship guest follow-up.
What does your score reveal about your progress? What gaps exist between what you say you value as a church and what is real as demonstrated by your actions? By defining the gaps you can address the critical areas that still need improvement, in order to impact the culture.
Your thousand-mile journey is a step-by-step process, so celebrate the quick wins as you travel!