Summer 2016

Letter From the President

Equipping the Saints

by Kevin Kompelien

“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”

—Ephesians 4:11-16, English Standard Version

These words from the apostle Paul make it clear that Jesus gave leaders to the church to be equipping the saints for ministry, not to be doing all the ministry. The ultimate effectiveness of a leader is not simply measured by what he or she personally accomplishes, but rather by the lives of those in whom the leader invests.

I’m afraid that “equipping the saints” is one of those ministry concepts we as leaders can easily acknowledge and at the same time pass over—all without deeply assessing our own personal investment in the lives of others.

Who is the Lord putting in your life now, to help equip them in some ministry skill?

Too often in my years of ministry, I felt good when people asked, “How do you find the time and energy to do all that you do?” I eventually realized that I was so busy “doing” all of those things because I wasn’t equipping others to serve and lead so that we together could share the load. After I began looking for people to join me in various ministry settings, I found great joy in watching them grow and effectively serve.

As you consider how the Lord would have you “up your game” as an equipper, let me challenge you to consider some next steps:

  • Take a look at your schedule over the past month and assess the opportunities where you were investing in others. Ask who the Lord is putting in your life now, in order for you to help equip in some ministry skill.
  • Do as few things alone as you possibly can. Look for opportunities in the next month where you can intentionally take someone along with you into a ministry setting, so they can watch, learn and serve together with you.
  • Consider launching mentoring and coaching ministries in your church. Have apprentices serve alongside existing leaders.
  • Prayerfully look at establishing internships in your church for college and seminary students to learn ministry skills.
  • Be intentional about equipping the people in your congregation to live out their faith effectively in their neighborhoods, schools and places of employment. Remember, this is where they spend the vast majority of their time each week.
  • We celebrate what we value. Find ways to celebrate in the public services of your church where people are serving and how they are being equipped to both serve and lead.

In the church where I grew up, we didn’t have a paid youth pastor; we had a junior-high teacher who led our youth group and a community college instructor who led our youth choir. Two normal guys working their jobs, raising their families and serving in the church. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.

Not only did these men serve willingly and effectively, but they also invested their lives. They loved us and taught us, taking risks by giving us responsibilities to do things that made a difference. I preached my first sermon in a Sunday evening service when I was 16 years old. I still have the notes! It wasn’t very good, but they encouraged me, taught me and gave me another opportunity to speak.

Over the past three decades, kids from that youth group have served as pastors and missionaries, as elders and ministry leaders, as behind-the-scenes servants and leaders in business and education, as a seminary professor and even as denominational president. I learned firsthand the significance of equipping the saints for ministry where it is done best: in the local church.

My prayer for the EFCA is that we would maximize ministry impact for the kingdom of God by equipping, encouraging and releasing people to serve in our communities and churches to the glory of the Savior.

Kevin Kompelien has served as president of the Evangelical Free Church of America since June 2015. Previously, he served as international leader for the Africa division with EFCA ReachGlobal and as pastor of two EFCA churches. He and his wife, Becky, are members of Hillside EFC in San Jose, California.