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Equipping the Saints

Contents of 'Papers':

6. How to Teach

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1. Introduction - Starting from Basics

This is the first of a series of ‘papers' to invite thought and discussion

on the subject of “equipping the saints”.


Our goal is to consider how we may approach teaching, training, and releasing the people of God to be effective representatives of Jesus in the world and, especially, in the community around us.


The landscape of the local church is of some significance: the mix of people and where the church has come from. These are simply opening considerations which to be developed later.


a) The people spectrum

Any church at any particular moment in time will comprise a wide spectrum of people , some of whom will have been Christians for many years, and others who have only recently entered the kingdom of God . The makeup of the present ‘body of Christ' perhaps needs a little consideration, particularly when thinking how to go about teaching the ‘body' and meeting each person at the point where they are.


b) Their history

The history of the people is also of some importance. If the church has made teaching a priority for many years, then those who have been part of it for some time may be well taught. If it is a very young church, teaching will have been limited and expectations not yet clarified. We may need to ask questions of ourselves as to where we have come from and how effective or otherwise have we been?


c) Understanding & Openness

People are different from one another and so there will also be a spectrum of understanding . Perhaps we might also speak of a spectrum of openness to learning in respect of the abilities and desires of the local congregation. Some people easily take in and understand what they have heard; others don't.

Some people become an enthusiastic participator of the church and part of that may be shown by a willingness to learn. Others are more diffident and prefer to sit on the sidelines watching and they may not be so eager to take in and apply whatever teaching has been imparted. They are just not there yet!


d) Teaching versus Learning

In the former group we might speak of a closeness between ‘teaching' imparted and ‘learning' received . In the latter group there may have been a lot of apparent ‘teaching' but the amount of ‘learning' may be minimal. The reasons why the latter group are as they are, may be many and varied, and maybe some thought even needs to be given to that. This may have something to do with leadership styles and personalities, sense of security created (or not), and the general ethos of the local church.


e) Maturity & Gifted


As we seek to view the landscape of the local church, we perhaps also ought to consider the maturity and gifting spectrum of that church. What are the gifts of the people who make up the local church? Are there those who are gifted in teaching, and are there those of maturity who have been in the kingdom of God for many years and grown into maturity but who doesn't teach?

As we dig deeper into these things we then find we have to consider the meaning of maturity . A person may be mature in years but not mature in learning and not mature in application and development as a Christian. We'll consider this in more detail later.


f) Knowing and Doing

Jesus instructed the apostles in respect of the future church to ensure they were teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you,” (Mt 28:20) or perhaps, “teach them to learn to do everything I have taught you.”

Learning was, for the early church, not merely taking in information, but actually applying it and doing it. Indeed in one of his even more uncomfortable moments he taught, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing.” (Jn 14:12)

We might suggest, therefore, that spiritual maturity is about being a person who does what God leads us to do, and not merely a repository of information. Thus, when we speak about, “equipping the saints”, we mean “equipping them to do”.

The apostle Paul spoke of the role that Jesus gave to church leaders and ministries: “he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service .” (Eph 4:11,12)

The ultimate and eventual goal of ‘equipping' then, is to lead people to be able to do the works of God that He leads them into. The ultimate goal of envisioning the local church must surely be, therefore, to enable the local congregation to see and understand and rise to this aspiration.



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Equipping the Saints
2. A Biblical Basis for Teaching & Equipping

This is the second of a series of ‘papers' to invite thought and discussion

on the subject of “equipping the saints”.


Our goal is to consider how we may approach teaching, training, and releasing the people of God to be effective representatives of Jesus in the world and, especially, in the community around us.


In the first ‘paper' we set out a number of basic considerations about approaching the activity of equipping the saints. Here we simply set out the very basics of the New Testament recording the practice of teaching in the early Church.


a) Jesus the Teacher

Lk 4:14-16 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him. He went to Nazareth , where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read.

  • Jesus started teaching in the synagogues; teaching was based upon the Old Testament.


Mt 5:1,2 Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them

  • Jesus also taught the crowds and his disciples

Mt 11:1 After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee .

  • Jesus instructed his disciples first to send them out, and then he himself also taught the people.


b) The Holy Spirit who will continue teaching

Jn 14:25,26 All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

  • the Holy Spirit will maintain and continue Jesus' teaching.


c) The early church continues to teach

Acts 5:19 -21 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. "Go, stand in the temple courts," he said, "and tell the people the full message of this new life." At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people.

  • an angel instructs the imprisoned apostles to continue teaching the message of the Gospel.


Rom 15:1-4 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: "The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me." For everything that was written in the past, was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

  • an example of Paul's teaching, how to live the Christian life, now far beyond the basic Gospel; it is how we relate to one another, seeking to bring God's blessing to one another.
  • within it is the reminder that for the early church, before the canon of the New Testament was established, the basis of their teaching was the Old Testament.

1 Cor 4:17 I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.

  • the practice of teaching was handed on to future generations of leaders.


2 Tim 2:2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.

  • this practice he specifically laid down to Timothy.


Titus 2:11-15 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope--the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. These, then, are the things you should teach.

  • Salvation and the grace of God, rejecting ungodly lives, living righteous lives and looking for the coming of Jesus; these are some of the examples of instruction that were given


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Equipping the Saints
3. The Basic Goals of Teaching

This is the third of a series of ‘papers' to invite thought and discussion

on the subject of “equipping the saints”.


Our goal is to consider how we may approach teaching, training, and releasing the people of God to be effective representatives of Jesus in the world and, especially, in the community around us.


In the second ‘paper' we showed how teaching was carried out by Jesus and the early church, and is also an activity of the Holy Spirit.


Here we go on to consider the basic purpose or goals of teaching as shown in the New Testament.


a) A Foundation Stone

2 Tim 3:16,17 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

  • Scripture, says Paul, in this foundational couple of verses, is for teaching and training us so that we are EQUIPPED for whatever God gives us to do.


b) A Background

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

  • However we see the “which God prepared in advance for us”, the message is clear: all we do is against the background that God has a plan and He knows best how we fit into it and what He has on His heart for us in it.
  • Thus we don't make people do what we want them to do; we help them find out what God has on His heart for them to do and encourage them into it.


c) A Pivotal Point

Rom 12:2 “be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is.”

or Don't be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him.” (Contemp. Version)

  • When we speak of ‘teaching' in this context we mean God's activity of
    • helping bring about a change of thinking in us and
    • a change of lifestyle and behaviour ,
    • to enable us to live in conformity with His will, His design for mankind.
  • God's will is simply how He has designed us to live so we ‘work best' – we need to understand this very positive desire of the Lord's.

d) Knowledge, Understanding and Wisdom

Prov 2:6 For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding .”

  • knowledge is basic information.
  • understanding is the ‘why?' of life – why God works as He does, why sin is destructive etc. etc.
  • wisdom is the ‘how?' of life, how to live the life of Christ.
  • Wisdom is usually seen as the most important as it is the outworking of the others, and it is our behaviour, what we do in our lives, that the Lord is most concerned with.
  • What we DO determines whether we receive pleasure or pain, fulfilment or frustration.
  • God's desire is to lead us into paths that bring blessing, goodness, pleasure and fulfilment.
  • Ways of the world contrary to God's design produce pain, heartache, hurt, distress and destruction.


Some Summary Thoughts from above:

•  The Bible is our starting point for teaching.
•  When we convey its knowledge and understanding it enables or equips the individual to live their life as a Christian.
•  Receiving His teaching will mean a change of thinking in us followed by a change in behaviour and lifestyle.
•  God has a plan that He is working out which involves each of us.
•  He is working and desiring to bring us into a place where we conform to His will (His design and desires for mankind) and thus release blessing (goodness) into our lives – and through us to others – so that we enjoy the lives He has given us and feel fulfilled in all He calls us to do.
•  There is no area of our lives that is outside the ambit of the Lord's plans for us.
•  Teaching is about receiving knowledge and understanding .
•  Equipping is about receiving wisdom to live out our lives in the light of that teaching.

We now need to go on to expand these things to see some more detail of the areas where this might be applied.


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Equipping the Saints
4. More Detailed Goals for Teaching

This is the fourth of a series of ‘papers' to invite thought and discussion

on the subject of “equipping the saints”.


Our goal is to consider how we may approach teaching, training, and releasing the people of God to be effective representatives of Jesus in the world and, especially, in the community around us.


In the third ‘paper' we considered the basic purpose or goals of teaching as shown in the New Testament. Here we now go on to focus on some more specific goals.


a) The Foundation Stone Again

2 Tim 3:16,17 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

  • The general purpose of teaching is declared for “the man of God” (or woman) to equip them to live the Christian life, the good life.


b) Clear to take counter measures.

Acts 20:28-31 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God , which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard!

  • Instructing the Ephesian elders, Paul gives instructions to counter the coming attacks of the enemy that will
    • come from both outside and inside the church and
    • will involve distortion of the truth to lead the saints astray.
  • He reminds them that the church is precious to Jesus (bought with his blood) and so those of us in leadership roles should take great care to protect it.
  • The strategies of the enemy are:
  • i) deception – distorting out thinking so that we are weak when it comes to

    ii) temptation – seeking to lead us into wrong destructive behaviour.


Speaking of leaders, Paul taught,


Titus 1:9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.

  • A primary goal of teaching is, therefore, to establish ‘ sound doctrine' (biblical thinking) in believers so people know who and what and why they are who they are , and
  • are also able to refute those who would deny these things.


c) Doctrine and Practice

In a number of the apostle Paul's letters we find that

•  the first part is given over to doctrine (biblical reason for all we are and all God has done), and then
•  the second part is give over to practice of the Christian life – the outworking of the doctrine in practical ways .


Observe some of the practicalities that pour out of Paul in Romans 12:9 onwards:


Love must be sincere - Hate what is evil - cling to what is good - Be devoted to one another in brotherly love - Honor one another above yourselves - Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord - Be joyful in hope - patient in affliction - faithful in prayer - Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality - Bless those who persecute you - bless and do not curse - Rejoice with those who rejoice - mourn with those who mourn - Live in harmony with one another - Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position - Do not be conceited - Do not repay anyone evil for evil - Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody -If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone - Do not take revenge - If your enemy is hungry, feed him - if he is thirsty, give him something to drink - Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Wow! Those in bold are those specifically about relating to other people, and a number of the latter ones are about relating to non-Christians!


d) How and what to teach

In thinking about equipping the saints there are two areas where decisions have to be made:

  •  what to teach (knowledge, understanding, wisdom)
  •  how to go about it (when, who, how to do it within the life of the church)


In the next two ‘papers' we will attempt some suggestions for these two subjects.


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Equipping the Saints
5. What to Teach and Why

This is the fifth of a series of ‘papers' to invite thought and discussion

on the subject of “equipping the saints”.


Our goal is to consider how we may approach teaching, training, and releasing the people of God to be effective representatives of Jesus in the world and, especially, in the community around us.


In the fourth ‘paper' we suggested that there are two areas where decisions need to be made: what to teach and how to teach it.


Here we take the first of those and leave the second one to the next ‘paper'. The following is an outline spectrum of learning that is common in church life.


1. The Learning Spectrum


a) Foundations for Salvation

•  Obviously for new Christians we need to impart the knowledge and understanding about the Gospel and what has happened to us and who we now are and the basis on which we now live.

•  Justification, Sanctification, Glorification

•  This can go on to include knowledge of who God is – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.


b) Spiritual Disciplines

•  Here we start with knowledge and understanding.
•  We teach about prayer, Bible use, fellowship, worship
•  But this is to move on to practical applications and so wisdom is involved.
•  Our end goal is to produce believers who experience and are comfortable in each of these.


c) Sacraments

•  Baptism / Communion
•  The former requires agreement and then action, the latter action.


d) Spiritual Experience

•  Dealing with the past / Dying to self / Resting in Christ and dealing with anxiety / Receiving grace in its many forms / Humility and acceptance of others / Being filled with the Spirit / life in the Spirit / Gifts of the Spirit / Giving / Divine guidance / When things go wrong / Spiritual warfare / etc.


e) Relating to Others

•  Loving, accepting and caring / Forgiveness / Coping with the unlovely / Marriage / Parenting / Church authority / etc.


f) Ethical Issues

•  Euthanasia / Abortion / Uses and management of money / Debt / etc.


g) Reaching the Unbeliever

•  Recognising their need / Realising the wonder of being a Christian / Having confidence in your own testimony / Caring, accepting and reaching out in love and respect / etc.


h) Apologetic Issues

•  Trusting the Bible, understanding Old Testament morality, evil and suffering.


There are, no doubt, many other things we could include in the above list but that will do as purely a starter list.


2. The Need or Benefits of these things


The following is again a starter list of reasons for teaching these things:


•  Salvation is the entry door to the church – we need to understand how it happens.

•  Everything we do is an expression of our relationship with the Lord – therefore we need to know who He is , what He does and how He works.

•  There are a number of things that contribute to the life and spiritual health of the individual and so we need to know what they are and enter into the experience of them (i.e. practical application).

•  Baptism is a demand of the individual and Communion the demand on the spiritual community and so we need to encourage the new believer to be baptised and participate in communion (practical applications).

•  There are many facets to our relationship with the Lord and our spiritual experience which all have practical outworkings that can develop and mature us, especially in respect of the Spirit. The mature Christians understands and enters into them.

•  Life in the body of Christ is all about relating to other Christians . We also have many other relationships with others which have positive or negative elements. Understanding these is essential to both our wellbeing and our witness.

•  We live in a complex world and so understanding ethical issues and the background or basis of our beliefs is helpful for us to relate to this world and give answers when questioned .

•  Jesus' ultimate desire is to reach other people with his love, so investigating the variety of ways we can do this by engaging and serving the community around us as a means of reaching them must accord with his will.


Additional Notes:


  • Most of these move from ‘knowledge' to practical experience. Equipping enables that.
  • As far as engaging with and serving the community, some of these things are prerequisites and some are simply helpful.
  • Some focus and grow the Christian, i.e. bring maturity, and therefore come under the ambit of equipping the saints. Some are more specific in bringing confidence to the individual to enable them to engage with the community in a positive manner.


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Equipping the Saints
6. How to Teach

This is the sixth of a series of ‘papers' to invite thought and discussion

on the subject of “equipping the saints”.


Our goal is to consider how we may approach teaching, training, and releasing the people of God to be effective representatives of Jesus in the world and, especially, in the community around us.


In the fourth ‘paper' we suggested that there are two areas where decisions need to be made: what to teach and how to teach it. Here we take the second of those: how to teach and equip.


Recognising Three Aspects

•  There are three aspects of ‘how':

a) Who? (needs of individuals and recognising where they are in their

    walk with Christ)

b) Where and when? (groups/church, midweek/Sundays)

c) The method? (how to convey information and enable practise)


a) Who?

The people to be considered include:

•  Young Christians – we have the one-to-one “Your New Life” Course – would we be wise to ensure any mature Christian in the church can take a new Christian through it?
•  Young people – there is a case to be made for teaching children and young teenagers as age-specific groups.
•  The elderly – there is also a case to be made perhaps for meeting them at their specific and unique needs and ensuring they still feel a valued and genuinely involved and needed part of the body.
•  Those with high-demand (time-limited or shift-related) jobs – there is also a need to recognise their particular needs in the modern world in which we live and consider how to accommodate their availability difficulties.
•  These are perhaps just some of the issues relating to people-needs orientated teaching and equipping. Maybe there are others.


b) Where and when?

The options include:

•  Sunday morning preaching (limited but valuable)

•  Sunday morning Pick ‘n Mix short teaching blocks – excellent for picking up a wide variety of subjects and styles of teaching – available to all – also releases and uses a much larger number of people, giving more opportunity for involvement, development and growth of a larger number of individuals.

•  Regular midweek groups – known traditionally as house groups or cell groups, depending on intent – also good from a pastoral perspective – the question arises if the church seeks a common goal, should such groups use common materials, subjects, approaches etc. to ensure all are traveling the same path to achieve the same end goal, so far as that is possible?

•  Irregular midweek groups or Sunday evening groups on special topics/themes etc. for specialist needs – may be a one-off or ‘short course' approach.

•  Whole church for once a month or once every two months, or one-off evenings, to cover subjects considered particularly important.

•  Informal, social or fellowship evenings or daytime gatherings to build fellowship and friendship and caring and security, to bring about a rounded life.


c) The Method?

The considerations include:

•  Information to be imparted (from front, by paper or visuals or Internet)

•  Variety of approach – whole group, pairs, individual

•  Information or Application (doing) [we have quite an extensive data base of guidance material for activity-based approaches for people to go ‘hands on'.]



Additional Notes:


•  The previous paper, “What to Teach” really focuses on headings and within that it is easy to lose the sense of which things are ‘practical' and which subsequently build confidence. Learning to pray for one another with confidence would be a good example of something very practical that builds confidence. Maybe we need to view the lists with this idea in mind, of practical confidence-building activities.

•  I am very much aware that these notes have not specifically addressed the issues of ‘engaging and serving the community' (which I feel are likely to be additional to 'equipping') and I would anticipate that that would:

•  emerge within some of the other teaching and,

•  there will probably be a need to focus on local needs, local organizations etc. as a separate task in the process of focusing our attention outwards to the community.



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