5 Ways of Equipping Believers

John Vermilya

March 27, 2023

If you want to start a debate among Christians, start comparing methodologies for the best way of equipping believers to grow and mature in their faith in Jesus. Countless books, seminars, speakers, and conferences will tout the next best thing, leaving most of us confused as to which one to choose. 

WHAT TO LEARN FROM JESUS’ EQUIPPING STRATEGY

Jesus was the best disciple-equipper of all time, so perhaps the best thing would be to simply look at what He did. Jesus’ equipping strategy was focused primarily on five areas: 

  • The Word
  • Small groups
  • Mission
  • Serving
  • Mentoring 

If these were Jesus’ methods for equipping believers, they ought to be ours as well. 

HOW TO EQUIP BELIEVERS

Here are five ways to equip believers in Christ based on Jesus’ strategy…

The Word

Equipping believers must start with and be based on the Word of God. The Bible says that Jesus is the Word, and He taught both His disciples and the crowds as the Word in flesh (John 1:1-4). The foundation for equipping believers must be time in God’s Word. Believers must read, study, listen, and be taught the Bible regularly in church. This is the foundation for equipping (2 Timothy 3:15-17) and our transformation (Romans 12:2).  

Small Groups

Jesus called the original twelve disciples into a small group that got up close time with Him. In a day and age when so many people live in isolation, it’s a stark reminder the Christian life is not meant to be lived alone. In the small group setting, Jesus was able to answer questions and go deeper into areas where they needed to grow. Believers who want to be equipped need a small group to grow with, both in faith and relationship.

Mission

Jesus engaged His disciples in mission early on in His earthly ministry. He sent out the twelve and the seventy-two to spread the good news (Luke 9-10) in His name. A key point to remember is the disciples were not the finished article when they were sent, but Jesus engaged them in His mission anyway. The equipping work the Holy Spirit does in Christians happens as they are participating in His mission. Waiting to become the finished article means it will probably never happen otherwise. 

Serving

In the same way, Jesus equipped the disciples through serving. They were assigned to crowd control, feeding the multitudes, boat operations, donkey retrieval, passover prep, and more. These tasks may have seemed menial, but they were critical in learning how to love God and love people. Jesus came to serve, and believers must learn to do the same (Matthew 20:28). Serving is the missing link in the discipleship of the vast majority of Christians today.

Mentoring

Jesus spent the most up-close time with three of His disciples in mentoring. The Gospels record Peter, James, and John were given exclusive access to Jesus in situations and interactions as He equipped them for leadership. After Jesus’ ascension, this spiritual baton-passing became vital to the spread of the Gospel. Barnabas mentored Paul, Paul mentored Timothy, and Priscilla and Aquila mentored Apollos. Mentors become spiritual fathers and mothers that help equip believers in ways that church attendance and small groups do not. 

UNDERSTAND THE PURPOSE OF EQUIPPING BELIEVERS

Ephesians 4:12 states the purpose of believer equipping is for “the work of the ministry, and for building up the body of Christ.” In other words, the purpose of being equipped is so one can labor for the Kingdom and build up the local church. It is impossible to be properly equipped for mature faith and not be giving oneself away. Being properly equipped means laboring for the Kingdom in relationship to a local church and participating in Jesus’ mission with other believers in unity and love (Ephesians 4:13-16).