Thus far, we have looked at four principles of missions – (1) Cover It with Prayer, (2) Make It Personal, (3) Help with Humility and (4) Make It Sustainable. Here is principle number five.
Principle Five: Equip and Empower the Indigenous
Ephesians 4:11-12 “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ…”
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul instructs leaders to equip the saints for the work of ministry so that the body of Christ can be built up. Equipping the saints should be a major enterprise with the Kingdom of God. It should be considered a mandate for the church.
In our missionary endeavors, we should, whenever and wherever possible, come alongside the indigenous population and equip them for the work of service. Sometimes, equipping them is simply doing the work with them.
Equipping and empowering the indigenous population is basic to the Incarnation itself. In the Gospel of John, it says that "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us." The term, "dwelt", translates the Greek word “skenoo”, which literally means "pitched a tent with us."
Jesus pitched a tent with the indigenous population, called humanity, primarily to die for our sins, but also to equip and empower those who would carry the Good News of the Kingdom to the remotest parts of the earth. The work of the cross would not have continued unless He equipped and empowered His disciples to do so.
In the Great Commission to His disciples, Jesus summed up His desire for us to equip and empower others. He said in Matthew 28:18-20, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Verse 20 says that we are to teach others what He taught (equipping) and that He would be with us until the close of the age (empowering). This is equipping and empowering in a nutshell.
When it comes to missionary work, we should avoid the trap of having it so missionary centered that it cannot continue without a steady supply of missionary workers. In a best case scenario, the missionaries would work themselves out of a job and eventually become a consultant to the indigenous population as they do the work of ministry.
This may not always happen or even be totally possible, but it should be something we strive after as we emulate the ministry of Jesus.
Something to think about…