Societal Changes that Require the Transition to an Equip-

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Societal Changes that Require the Transition to an Equip-
Societal Changes that Require the Transition to an Equipping Paradigm for Christian Leaders
leadership P
Brett Smitsdorff, Randfontein Baptist Church, Dr Linzay Rinquest,
Cape Town Baptist Seminary, Research Associate, University of Pretoria. *
"The leader's calling is to help God's people to fulfill their calling"
- Robert W Kellerman
This article contends that major changes are taking place in society to such a
degree that a revision of Christian leadership paradigms is necessary to respond
effectively to these changes. The nature of the changes taking place in society and
the extent to which these changes are taking place are rendering existing leadership paradigms ineffective to the point of rendering some approaches to leadership obsolete. The article proposes that the Church adopt an Equipping paradigm
of Christian Leadership, and that the text of Ephesians 4:11- J 2 be used as the
basis of this paradigm. Not only must the text be given greater precedence when
constructing leadership paradigms in general, but the text also offers a new organising centre for a theology of Christian leadership. The article concludes with
a brief examination of the possible implications of an Equipping paradigm for
Ecclesiology, Leadership Practice, the Challenge of Transitioning to an Equipping Paradigm in Churches andfor the Training of Leaders.
1. Introduction
Leadership is a crucial factor that influences both the health of individual congregations as well as the expansion of the Church in the world Kuhl (2005:4). If the
Church is to successfully carry out its mandate to reach the world and at the same
time maintain its health and the integrity of gains already won, then the issue of
its leadership continues to be an important issue that needs attention. McNeal
maintains leaders playa formative role in shaping and guiding the Church:
Throughout church history, leaders have shaped the character of the
Christian movement. At crucial moments, leaders like Augustine,
Luther, and Calvin have redefined the church McNeal (1995:12).
However, leadership paradigms can be effective or ineffective. They can promote
growth or inhibit growth, and can be empowering or inhibiting Ogden (2003: 171,
175). David Watson mentions that the wrong kind of leadership "makes growth
and maturity virtually impossible" (1989:246). Regarding the importance of the
*This article was completed as part of the PhD degree at the University of Pretoria.
In a similar
proach to le
taking place
2. Major
Although Ie
to societal
presently t
Moderate a;
that these s
styles or m
digms (200
& Roehl2C
2.1 The E
The chang
Societal Changes that Require the Transition to an Equipping Paradigm for
Christian Leaders
ositionto an Equipleadership paradigms employed in the Church, he says:
:h,Dr Linzay Rinquest,
iate, University of Pre-
'e tofulfill
their calling
-Robert W Kellerman
placein society to such a
'S is necessary to respond
takingplace in society and
renderingexisting leader'ame approaches to leaderIptanEquipping paradigm
IS 4:11-12 be used as the
greaterprecedence when
textalso offers a new orThearticle concludes with
Equippingparadigm for
ransitioningto an Equipders.
lthof individual congre,
'Orld Kuhl (2005:4). If the
the world and at the same
Iy won, then the issue of
needsattention. McNeal
idingthe Church:
echaracter of the
s like Augustine,
tive.They can promote
itingOgden (2003: 171,
dership"makes growth
Ig theimportance of the
'ty of Pretoria.
It is probably here, more than in any other area of the Church's life,
that we need to look with fresh understanding and re-examine, critically and biblically the traditional patterns that have been passed
down to us over the centuries Watson (1989:245).
In a similar vein, Eddie Gibbs says that the Church needs to re-examine its approach to leadership in the light of the extent and radical nature of global changes
taking place in the twenty-first century (2005:41). He says:
Leadership styles must change in the light of fresh challenges the
church faces ... What we need is not new leaders, but different kinds
ofleaders Gibbs (2005:41).
2. Major Changes Taking Place in Society that Require the Revision of
Christian Leadership Paradigms
Although leadership paradigms must always be changing to respond effectively
to societal changes Pohlmann (2006:90), the nature and degree of societal change
presently taking place requires fundamental changes to leadership paradigms.
Moderate adjustments to leadership paradigms will not suffice. Eddie Gibbs says
that these societal changes are of such "seismic" proportions that they require
styles or models of leadership that supersede the stereotypical leadership paradigms (2005:41; also Gibbs & Coffey 2006:24; McLaren 2006:1l3; Roxburgh &
Romanuk 2006:3). The changes require radically different kinds ofleaders (Ogne
& Roehl 2008:15; Gibbs & Bolger 2006:193) with new skills and new capacities
Roxburgh & Romanuk (2006:10,13).
2.1 The Extent of Change - "Discontinuous" Change
The changes taking place in society are taking place on a global scale and have
been described as being "Discontinuous Change" Roxburgh & Romanuk (2006:6).
Roxburgh & Romanuk (2006:7) describe this type of change as follows:
Discontinuous change is dominant in periods of history that transform a culture forever, tipping it over into something new ... Continuous change develops out of what has gone before and therefore
can be expected, anticipated and managed ... We can anticipate the
stages and learn from those who have gone before us to navigate
the changes. We have stock experience and resources to address this
developmental change; it is continuous with the experience of many
others. This kind of change involves such things as improvements
on what is already taking place and whether the change can be managed with existing skills and expertise ... Discontinuous change is
disruptive and unanticipated; it creates situations that challenge our
The South African Baptist Journal of Theology
assumptions. The skills we have learned aren't helpful in this kind
of change (2006:7).
The nature and level at which discontinuous change is taking place in society
requires the same degree of change in leadership paradigms. While attempts have
been made to adjust stereotypical leadership paradigms in response to societal
changes, most revised models ofleadership use new language to "repackage" old
paradigms Roxburgh & Romanuk (2006:4). The following assertions by Roxburgh & Romanuk (2006: 10-1 J) reveal some of the ramifications of discontinuous change for Christian leadership paradigms:
The skills and capacities that shaped church leadership for much
of the twentieth century were the right ones for that context. We
are not critiquing these skills and capacities. Our point is that the
world has changed. Discontinuous change means that many rules
and assumptions about leadership now need to be reexamined and
rewritten (2006: 10).
The classic skills of pastoral leadership in which most pastors were
trained were not wrong, but the level of discontinuous change renders many of them insufficient and unhelpful at this point.
2.2 The Shift from a Modern Worldview to a Post-Modern Worldview
The transition in society from a modem worldview to a postmodern worldview
is another major change taking place, and is illustrative of the phenomenon of
discontinuous change. Cladis (1999: 19) quotes Walter Truett Anderson as saying
that Postmodernism "is a major transition in human history, a time of rebuilding
all the foundations of civilization, and the world is going to be occupied with it
for a long time to come". As a term, "Postmodernism" is one that is "virtually
indefinable" (Crane 2003:49),and is used to cover an emergent, comprehensive
worldview embracing philosophy, the arts, culture, politics and certain branches
of science, theology and popular culture Gibbs & Coffey (2006:28). It is characterised by among other things: a rejection of propositional truth and certainty
Gibbs & Coffey (2006:29); the rejection of hierarchy; a suspicion of institutions
and distrust of authority figures; McLaren (2006:169); Moynagh (2003:31).
The effect of postmodernism on the Church is that the Church has been increasingly marginalized to the fringes of society's cultural center Gibbs & Coffey
(2006:31). The trend of the marginalization of the Church started with modernism's emphasis on the secularization of life into public and private spheres Gibbs
& Coffey (2006:25, 27). The same marginalisation is happening to many church
leaders. McLaren contends that there was a period in time when Christian leaders
were once viewed as pedagogues, professionals or civic leaders and when pastors
functioned at the cultural centre of a community McLaren (2006:9); Moynagh
(2001:96). In addition to serving in churches, Christian leaders served as village
Societal Changes that
priests or as civic commun
church as an institution,as
to the periphery of society.
within leaders who will ha
2.3 The Christian Dell
Another significant change
as having entered a "post-t
the West is in need of "re-e
sionary fields" (2005: 148)
tion with a Constantinian (
a central position as a key
(2006: 17). Christian leadei
backdrop. Churches focus!
els of Christian leadership
believers and the manager
society has entered a "pos
lost its privileged positior
society, alongside other rei
(2006: 17). In post-Christei
Gibbs (2005: 175). Previo
for a different era and con
Romanuk (2006:10).
2.4 Post-Denominatio
Current trends towards fn
late twentieth-century for
Moynagh (2003:104). Me
twofold decline in adhere
the formation of a myriad
longer be based on the p,
structures, allegiance to a
styles. Instead people wil
common interests, similar
share with others. Moyna]
networks in order to corr
require collaborative effo
cannot afford Moynagh ('
of the clusters and netwoi
organised Gibbs (2005:8('
Leadership within convet
with centralised authority
the other hand are fluid, fll
Societal Changes that Require the Transition to an Equipping Paradigm for
Christian Leaders
r't helpful in this kind
ge is taking place in society
jadigms. While attempts have
ligms in response to societal
I language to "repackage" old
ollowing assertions by RoxI ramifications of discontinu-
leadership for much
for that context. We
Our point is that the
eans that many rules
D be reexamined and
ch most pastors were
itinuous change rent this point.
lost-Modern Worldview
a postmodern worldview
tive of the phenomenon of
r Truett Anderson as saying
ustory,a time of rebuilding
Dingto be occupied with it
n" is one that is "virtually
emergent, comprehensive
,Iitics and certain branches
iffey (2006:28). It is charsitional truth and certainty
a suspicion of institutions
Moynagh (2003: 31).
Church has been increascenter Gibbs & Coffey
irch started with modernand private spheres Gibbs
appening to many church
ne when Christian leaders
leaders and when pastors
.aren (2006:9); Moynagh
leaders served as village
priests or as civic community leaders Gibbs & Bolger (2005: 17). As a result, the
church as an institution,as well as Christian leaders have also been marginalised
to the periphery of society. This marginalization can precipitate an identity crisis
within leaders who will have to renegotiate their roles in society.
2.3 The Christian Demise of the West
Another significant change directly impacting the Church is that the West is seen
as having entered a "post-Christendom" period Gibbs (2005:75). Gibbs says that
the West is in need of "re-evangelizing" as "one ofthe world's most difficult missionary fields" (2005:148). However, many leadership models mistakenly function with a Constantinian Christian view of the world when the Church occupied
a central position as a key social institution in Western societies Gibbs & Bolger
(2006: 17). Christian leadership paradigms and identities were formed against this
backdrop. Churches focused on maintenance, and developed corresponding models of Christian leadership which focused on the tasks of the spiritual growth of
believers and the management and administration of congregations. However, as
society has entered a "post-Christendom" phase, the Church as an institution has
lost its privileged position and increasingly occupies a place on the margins of
society, alongside other recreational and non-profit organizations Gibbs & Bolger
(2006: 17). In post-Christendom and postmodern cultures, new leaders are needed
Gibbs (2005: 175). Previous assumptions about leadership that were cultivated
for a different era and context need to be re-examined and rewritten Roxburgh &
Romanuk (2006:10).
2.4 Post-Denominationalism,
New Denominations and Networks
Current trends towards fragmentation in society will accelerate the trend of the
late twentieth-century for people to be less focused on traditional denominations
Moynagh (2003:104). Moynagh contends that this fragmentation will result in a
twofold decline in adherence to existing traditional denominations and a rise in
the formation of a myriad of new "denominations". New denominations will no
longer be based on the particularties of doctrine, governmental or other church
structures, allegiance to an influential founding leader, or on particular worship
styles. Instead people will attach themselves to a "denomination" based on the
common interests, similar needs, and passion for the same causes that they may
share with others. Moynagh argues that people will probably belong to new, large
networks in order to combine their efforts to accomplish larger objectives that
require collaborative efforts or to experience ministry which the smaller group
cannot afford Moynagh (2003:102, 106). Networking in this way is reminiscent
of the clusters and networks around which churches in the New Testament were
organised Gibbs (2005:86).
Leadership within conventional denominations functions in pyramid hierarchies
with centralised authority and clear lines of command and control. Networks on
the other hand are fluid, flexible and capable of creatively and intuitively adjusting
The South African Baptist Journal of Theology
to diversity Gibbs (2005:91-92). They are neither centralised, nor decentralised,
but polycentric which means that there are many centres of leadership which all
interrelate Gibbs (2005:92). Leaders who have functioned in traditionally-styled
denominations may find it difficult to adjust their skills to the new reality.
2.5 The Transition of the Word "Pastor" from a Noun to a Verb: The
Pastoral Ministry of the Body of Christ
Odom (2001:29) argues that in the future the word "pastor" may move in emphases from a noun to a verb. This means that "pastoring" will be done by the whole
community rather than "pastoral" ministry being vested in an individual. Neufield also notes that most ofthe allusions to pastoring in the New Testament, even
when applied to leaders, refer to the function or service that is rendered rather
than an "office" which is to be occupied (cf. Ac 20:28; 1 Pt 5:2) (2002:180). As
a spiritual gift and function this ministry responsibility is given to leaders, but is
equally given to other members in the body of Christ as well Watson (1989:247,
257). For this reason the "solo ministry syndrome" or traditional "pastor" system
is seen as a departure from the New Testament Stevens and Collins (1993:88).
Jackson (2002) says that no one person can assume the role of pas toring an entire
congregation. Getz (1984: 115-116) also adds that it has never been God's intention that either one leader, or a group of "several leaders ... do the work of ministry. He intended for the whole church to do this work".
This change in emphasis of the word "pastor" from a noun to a verb will bring
about several paradigm shifts. Firstly, it debunks the archetypal leadership paradigm of the leader as the shepherd of a congregation. It lifts the traditional and
popularly perceived restriction of the pastoral ministry of a few individuals, and
places this ministry in the hands of the entire church membership. The second
change that this paradigm shift could bring about is in changing the theology and
philosophy of ministry of the Church. When leaders understand that shepherding is the responsibility of the entire community of faith, they may be mobilised
to assume the equipping function advocated in Ephesians 4:12 as a central and
strategic leadership responsibility. This will require changes in their priorities,
ministry goals and time allocation so that they train others to care Stevens and
Collins (1993:90). The third change is a change in the way congregations are
viewed and the way in which individual church members view themselves. Congregations will no longer be gathering places "where people come to receive
religious goods and services" Roxburgh & Romanuk (2006: 13). Instead they
will be places where people offer each other the mutual care envisioned in the
13:34-35;Rm 12:10-16; Col 3:16; 1 Th5:11;Heb 10:24).
2.6 The Effect of These Changes: The Redundancy of Stereotypical
Leadership Paradigms
During the earlier periods of Christendom, when the Church as an institution and
its leaders were afforded a privileged place in society, efforts to evangelize society were easier since society embraced a Judeo-Christian worldview. Roxburgh
Societal Changes that Rei
& Romanuk (2006:8); Gibbs
paradigms emerged during th
within the body of Christ as tl
These paradigms also created
to depend upon the professior
behalf. Churches and Christi:
archically with centralized au
initiatives that did not origin
(1996:223). The cumulative e
enfranchised" from playing 2
their ministry outside in the
(2006:89). This preoccupatio
sponsibiiities of leaders and t
fey (2006:89).
However, the degree to whic
moorings will inevitably renc
post-Christian societies, Chr
tional management will have
neopagan, pluralistic contei
(2006:41). Gibbs & Coffej
tors and church leaders have
transition to a new leadershi
learn to serve as cross-cultul
culture or community in on
(2005:12-13). Roxburgh &
adapt their leadership profic
munities in the new post-Ch
3. The Equipping Leade
An Equipping paradigm of(
to reposition itselfto engag:
the foundational principles
engagement. Missional eng
Church will find itself in a "
understands that, "the ChUI
of witness, called into beinj
tify to and participate in C
that the Church moves fron
ing others to churches thn
ministry Hirsch (2008); M(
missional engagement requ
of God, and every disciple
We are all missionaries ser
Societal Changes that Require the Transition to an Equipping Paradigm for
Christian Leaders
ltralised, nor decentralised,
[res of leadership which all
ioned in traditionally-styled
llsto the new reality.
a Noun to a Verb: The
astor" may move in empha,"will be done by the whole
sted in an individual. Neuin the New Testament, even
vice that is rendered rather
8; I Pt 5:2) (2002: 180). As
ty is given to leaders, but is
I as well Watson (1989:247,
.traditional "pastor" system
ens and Collins (1993: 88).
e role of pastoring an entire
ras never been God's inteners ... do the work of minis-
a noun to a verb will bring
archetypal leadership para. It lifts the traditional and
IY of a few individuals, and
1 membership. The second
changing the theology and
understand that shepherdth, they may be mobilised
sians 4: 12 as a central and
changes in their priorities,
others to care Stevens and
! e way congregations are
ers view themselves. ConI
peop Ie come to receive
(2006:13). Instead they
al care envisioned in the
~6; 1 Th 5:11; Heb 10:24).
dancy of Stereotypical
hurch as an institution and
efforts to evangelize sociian worldview. Roxburgh
& Romanuk (2006:8); Gibbs & Coffey (2001:96). Although several leadership
paradigms emerged during this period, they all caused leaders to see their roles
within the body of Christ as the primary purveyors of ministry Virgo (2003: 111).
These paradigms also created a dependency mentality in which the "laity" came
to depend upon the professional clergy to minister to them or to minister on their
behalf. Churches and Christian organizations also tended to be structured hierarchically with centralized authority vested in leadership personalities. Ministry
initiatives that did not originate with individual leaders were stifled Snodgrass
(1996:223). The cumulative effect of this was not only that members were "disenfranchised" from playing a significant role in ministry within the church, but
their ministry outside in the secular world was also restricted Gibbs & Coffey
(2006:89). This preoccupation with internal health resulted in the missional responsibilities of leaders and the Church to the world being ignored Gibbs & Coffey (2006:89) .
However, the degree to which society in the West has shifted from its Christian
moorings will inevitably render stereotypical leadership paradigms redundant. In
post-Christian societies, Christian leaders trained in pastoral care and organizational management will have to acquire the skills to minister in a "post-Christian,
neopagan, pluralistic context" as cross-cultural missionaries Gibbs & Coffey
(2006:41). Gibbs & Coffey (2006:41) contend that "Unfortunately most pastors and church leaders have had no missionary training" and may not make the
transition to a new leadership paradigm. In a post-Christian society leaders must
learn to serve as cross-cultural missionaries who intentionally engage the secular
culture or community in order to transform it Ogne & Roehl (2008: 16); Gibbs
(2005:12-13). Roxburgh & Romanuk (2006:3) mention that leaders must also
adapt their leadership proficiencies in order to lead churches as missional communities in the new post-Christendom culture.
3. The Equipping Leadership Paradigm
An Equipping paradigm of Christian leadership affords the Church an opportunity
to reposition itself to engage the changes in society in a fresh way because one of
the foundational principles of an Equipping paradigm of leadership is Missional
engagement. Missional engagement starts with the premise that in the future the
Church will find itself in a "post-Christian", "secular" culture Hammett (2007). It
understands that, "the Church is not a building or an institution but a community
of witness, called into being and equipped by God, and sent into the world to testify to and participate in Christ's work" Hooker (2008:1). Engagement requires
that the Church moves from an "attractional" approach which focussed on attracting others to churches through "seeker-sensitive"
services or need-orientated
ministry Hirsch (2008); Morgenthaler (2007:49). Instead, Hirsch (2008) says that
missional engagement requires that "Every disciple ... be an agent of the kingdom
of God, and every disciple is to carry the mission of God into every sphere oflife.
We are all missionaries sent into a non-Christian culture".
The South African Baptist Journal of Theology
"Missional engagement necessitates missional leadership" Hjalmarson (2011).
The primary ministry or service of missional leaders is "to get God's people
ready for their ministries both in the world and in the church" Valleskey (1987:8).
Leonard Hjalmarson argues that the gifts of Ephesians 4: 12 provides the incentive for "the recovery of missional leadership" (20 II).
3.1 The Equipping Leadership Paradigm Described
An Equipping approach to leadership is one in which leaders understand that
their main priority is the equipping of members for the ministry to which they
have been called. The Asia-Pacific Institute of Biblical Studies maintains:
The role of the pastor-teacher is clearly taught in Ephesians 4: 12 ...
the pastor's role is to equip and prepare the members 'for the work
of the ministry, for the building up of each member of the church.'
His main role is to help every member to discover his spiritual gifts,
develop them to effectively serve with their gifts, deploy them to
the ministry to which they are called and delegate authority to them
in their ministry ... The pastor is not a doer of ministries but is an
equipper (200 I).
Greg Ogden Ogden (2003: 131-132) also accentuates the importance ofa leader's
Equipping function when he says:
"I believe the closest thing to a job description that is given for the
pastoral role is Ephesians 4: 1l-14 and it defines the fundamental
posture and purpose for pastoral ministry ... to equip the saints for
the work of ministry.
3.2 Ephesians 4: 11-12 - the Biblical Basis of an Equipping Paradigm
Ephesians 4: 11-12 forms the basis of an Equipping leadership paradigm. The way
in which this text is interpreted makes a significant impact upon one's theology of
Christian leadership Stott (1989: 166). The "Traditional" interpretation of the text
applied the ministry described in the passage to the ministry of Christian leaders.
It interpreted the prepositional phrases in Ephesians 4:12 - "for the equipment of
the saints ... for the work of ministry ... for building up the body of Christ" (RSV) as co-ordinate phrases which describe three separate functions, all of which apply
to the "officers" listed in Ephesians 4: 11 Davis (2000: 168-169). The "the work
of the ministry" mentioned in Ephesians 4: 12 (KJV) is that of the leaders being
spoken of in verse 11.
Leadership models based on this interpretation have served to endorse the notion
of a special class of "officers" within the church, given by Christ to the church
Shnackenburg (1991: 182). These models have contributed to a "two-class system of priest and people, clergy and laity, professional and amateur", one which
has been "disastrous" in stifling the growth of the church Watson (1989:250).
Societal Changes that E
The "Traditional" interpret'
sioned in the text to being 1
burg (1991:183). This resu
leaders for congregations,
evangelists - faded away as
An alternative interpretatic
tion, assigns the leaders me
ping believers for ministry
(NIV) or "the work of min
ditional" interpretation has
"Revisionist" interpretatic
sians 4: 12 as .being depei
pendent on the two that p
Ephesians 4: 11 are given
for its ministry as mention
to the fore:
It was he who gavt
to be evangelists,
God's people for vbuilt up" (Eph 4: 1
Gene Getz (1984: 115) al:
"the primary thrust" of I
maintains that although
tor's most fundamental
implication here is that i
to create "a permission·
of ministry" on their pa
ing that Christ, as the r
every member of his b<
ministry Ogden (2003:
Since the text does nol
Church members are a
and in society at large
an opportunity to respt
envisages all believers
other, both inside the (
tain that church leader
of calling and ministr'
Societal Changes that Require the Transition to an Equipping Paradigm for
Christian Leaders
ip" Hjalmarson (2011).
is "to get God's people
rch"Valleskey (1987:8).
U 2 provides the incen-
leaders understand that
: ministry to which they
;tudies maintains:
Ephesians 4: 12 ...
bers 'for the work
ber of the church.'
. his spiritual gifts,
.s, deploy them to
: authority to them
rinistries but is an
: importance of a leader's
iat is given for the
s the fundamental
quip the saints for
Equipping Paradigm
ership paradigm. The way
ict upon one's theology of
" interpretation of the text
iistry of Christian leaders.
12 - "for the equipment of
ie body of Christ" (RSV) nctions, all of which apply
:168-169). The "the work
s that of the leaders being
.rved to endorse the notion
en by Christ to the church
ibuted to a "two-class sys1 and amateur", one which
hurch Watson (1989:250).
The "Traditional" interpretation of Ephesians 4: 11-12 limits the ministry envisioned in the text to being that of "preachers, pastors and teachers" Schnackenburg (1991:183). This resulted in mainly pastors and teachers being trained as
leaders for congregations, while the other three roles - apostles, prophets and
evangelists - faded away as being "unnecessary" Hirsch (2008).
An alternative interpretation of Ephesians 4: 11-12, the "Revisionist" interpretation, assigns the leaders mentioned in Ephesians 4: 11 the responsibility of equipping believers for ministry so that believers would engage in "works of service"
(NIV) or "the work of ministry" (ESV). The trend towards a revision of the "Traditional" interpretation has gained momentum since 1946 Davis (2000: 169). This
"Revisionist" interpretation interprets the second prepositional phrase of Ephesians 4: 12 as being dependent on the first one and the third one as being dependent on the two that preceded it. The result is that the leaders mentioned .in
Ephesians 4: 11 are given a new mandate, and that is to equip the body of Christ
for its ministry as mentioned in verse 12. The NIV translation brings this meaning
to the fore:
It was 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 so that the body of Christ may be
built up" (Eph 4:11-12, NIV)
Gene Getz (1984: 115) also contends that leaders equipping believers for service is
"the primary thrust" of Ephesians 4:11-12 (1984:115). William Yount (1996:15)
maintains that although pastors may engage in several ministry tasks, the pastor's most fundamental calling is to "equip the saints for works of service". The
implication here is that instead of doing all the ministry themselves, leaders need
to create "a permission-giving atmosphere" where there is a "release of control
of ministry" on their part Ogden (2003: 100). The basis of this is the understanding that Christ, as the head of the church, can communicate his will directly to
every member of his body, the church, thereby guiding them into their assigned
ministry Ogden (2003: 100).
Since the text does not specify where the service or ministry would take place,
Church members are assigned the responsibility of ministering within churches
and in society at large Davis (2000: 167). This interpretation offers the Church
an opportunity to respond effectively to major changes taking place in society. It
envisages all believers, leaders and "non-leaders" alike, working alongside each
other, both inside the Church and in the world. Gibbs & Coffey (2001 :89) maintain that church leaders often fail to recognize that "the world" is the primary area
of calling and ministry of the laity.
The South African Baptist Journal of Theology
3.4 Ephesians 4:11-12 as a New Organizing Center for Christian
Ephesians 4:11-12 can be used to construct a new leadership paradigm, with an
Equipping function as its organizing center. Several commentators agree that
Ephesians 4: 11-12 is a key text that brings a unique understanding to the ministry of both Christian leaders and the rest of the body of Christ. For example,
Snodgrass says that, "This passage offers a blueprint for redesigning the work
of the church and its leaders" Snodgrass (1996:223). Markus Barth wrote that
"Ephesians 4: 11-13 is a locus classicus pointing out the coherence of the church's
origin, order, and destiny" Barth (1981:478). John Stott (1989: 167) says that the
expression about equipping God's people in Ephesians 4: 12 has "far-reaching
significance for any true understanding of Christian ministry ... Here is incontrovertible evidence that the New Testament envisages ministry not as the prerogative of a clerical elite but as the privileged calling of all the people of God".
An Equipping paradigm does not seek to replace all conventional leadership
paradigms. Instead, it reinterprets existing leadership models primarily as leadership functions, roles or responsibilities. An Equipping paradigm also becomes
the organizing center for leadership paradigms and functions. While leaders may
continue to fulfill certain stereotypical leadership functions, but these functions
must be reinterpreted in the light of an Equipping paradigm and the lens ofEphesians 4: 11-12. The primary responsibility of Christian leaders must be preserved,
and that is to equip members for the ministries to which they have been called.
For example, although pastoral care must continue, it must not be vested in a
single individual, nor must the "pastorate" be interpreted in terms of a ministry
office. Instead pastoral care is to be interpreted as a spiritual gift and as the mutual
responsibility that every member has to each other. While some may be spiritually gifted to "pastor" more effectively, all believers can participate in caring for
each other. Leaders have the responsibility to equip believers to help care and
edify each other. Mutual ministry to each other strengthens relationships, develops interdependency and contributes to the unity, grow and development of the
body of Christ envisioned in Ephesians 4: 16:
From him the whole body,joined and held together by every supporting ligament,
grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work (Eph. 4: 16, NIV).
4. Some Implication of An Equipping Paradigm for Leadership and
The following are possible implications of an Equipping paradigm for Ecclesiology, Leadership Practice, the Process ofTransitioning to an Equipping Paradigms
in Churches, and for the Training of Leaders.
4.1 Ephesians 4: 11-12 's Bearing on Ecclesiology
Ephesians 4:7-16 makes a unique contribution to ecclesiology and to an under44
Societal Changes that Re
standing of Christian leadersl
hensive theological statemen
try" Snodgrass (1996:212); S
church Foulkes (1980: 16) an
organic unity is unique in Ep
4:11-12 introduces a newer.
sionary vehicle and as a "Bil
ministry. Earlier in the same.
been given to every believe
Ephesians 4: II indicates thai
given missionary substance,
4.2 An Equipping Parae
On the basis of Ephesians I
to have been a "primary" f
(2003:122); Virgo (2003:13
The meaning of Eph
officers of the churcl
Neighbour (1990:47)
This function requires tha
themselves and other belie'
members as co-labourers a
become ministers in their 0
isters to ministers" (1981:
positional. Hierarchical str
be dispensed. James Meant
intended to be authority fi
leagues in the work of the
peers regardless of their ~
Wright (2003: 134).
4.3 Equipping and the
Greg Ogden contends ths
doctrine of the priesthooc
a "New Refonnation", 01
Ogden (1990:25); Beckha
ogy of the priesthood of a
paradigm in ministry has
Although the Refonners
ued to conceive of leade
roles. These are roles in
Societal Changes that Require the Transition to an Equipping Paradigm for
Christian Leaders
enterfor Christian
adershipparadigm, with an
al commentators agree that
b understanding to the mindy of Christ. For example,
t for redesigning the work
'). Markus Barth wrote that
e coherence of the church's
ott (1989:167) says that the
tans 4: 12 has "far-reaching
inistry ... Here is incontroinistry not as the prerogaII the people of God".
II conventional leadership
models primarily as leaderg paradigm also becomes
!nctions.While leaders may
nctions, but these functions
rdigm and the lens ofEphel leaders must be preserved,
lchthey have been called.
standing of Christian leadership. While the passage cannot be seen as a comprehensive theological statement, "it does contribute much to a theology of ministry" Snodgrass (1996:212); Stott (1979: 167). The emphasis on the doctrine of the
church Foulkes (1980: 16) and the functional relationships of believers within an
organic unity is unique in Ephesians Richards & Hoeldtke (1980:36). Ephesians
4:11-12 introduces a new emphasis, one in which the church is seen as a missionary vehicle and as a "Bible Institute"in which all believers are equipped for
ministry. Earlier in the same passage, Ephesians 4:7 also reveals that ministry has
been given to every believer Snodgrass (1996:200). A correct interpretation of
Ephesians 4: 11 indicates that "the whole church is taken into Christ's service and
given missionary substance, purpose and structure" Barth (1981:479).
4.2 An Equipping Paradigm's Approach to Christian Leadership
On the basis of Ephesians 4: 11-12, equipping others for ministry is considered
to have been a "primary" function of overseers in the New Testament Pohlman
(2003:122); Virgo (2003:133); Yount (1996:18). Hendriksen (1976:198) says:
The meaning of Ephesians 4: 11, 12 is ... that it is the task of the
officers of the church to equip the church for these [ministry] tasks
Neighbour (1990:47); Watson (1989:257).
it must not be vested in a
letedin terms of a ministry
ritual gift and as the mutual
ile some may be spiritu~anparticipate in caring for
believers to help care and
~hens relationships, devel'wand development of the
This function requires that leaders change the way in which they view both
themselves and other believers. Leaders in an Equipping paradigm must view all
members as co-labourers and peers. Leaders are to enable others to themselves
become ministers in their own right. Barth says that leaders are, as it were, "ministers to ministers" (1981 :481). Leadership is to a large extent functional, not
positional. Hierarchical structuring ofthe church and the clergy/laity divide must
be dispensed. James Means (1990:47) contends that "Spiritual leaders were never
intended to be authority figures to follow, but fellow workers, servants and colleagues in the work of the ministry". Leaders must treat others as "contributing
peers regardless of their scope of responsibility" and also as "creative equals"
Wright (2003: 134).
every supporting ligament,
4.3 Equipping and the "New Protestant Reformation"
rs work (Eph. 4: 16, NIV).
for Leadership and
ng paradigm for Ecclesiol:0 an Equipping Paradigms
esiology and to an under-
Greg Ogden contends that when the practical implications of the Reformation
doctrine of the priesthood of all believers are implemented, it will bring about
a "New Reformation", one in which ministry is returned to the people of God
Ogden (1990:25); Beckham (1995:9). Although it is an integral part of the theology of the priesthood of all believers, the application of an Equipping leadership
paradigm in ministry has been lacking among Protestants Young (1988:54).
Although the Reformers espoused the priesthood of all believers, they continued to conceive of leadership as functioning in mediatorial and representative
roles. These are roles in which the clergy ministered the word of God and the
Societal Changes that Re.
The South African Baptist Journal of Theology
sacraments to other believers Ogden (2003:52). The result was the creation of "a
priesthood within a priesthood" Ogden (2003:52). The priesthood of all believers was therefore "affirmed in theory, but denied in practice" Ogden (2003:52).
Virgo (2003: Ill) says:
"Evangelicals have rejected doctrines that represent the priest as
mediator, but often the pastor is still regarded as the professional he will lead our meeting, he is the employed, isolated man of God
- instead of seeing that the goal of all ministries is to raise up a functioning, many-membered body".
Ogden (1990: 137) says, "For ministry to be returned to the people of God, we
must have a bottom-up view of the church" (1990:54). Leaders must no longer
view themselves as the Church's primary conduits of ministry, nor must they
view other believers as passive recipients and supporters of their ministry. Instead
they should embrace their new identity as servant leaders who equip the body of
Christ for their ministry Ogden.
4.4 The Challenge of Transitioning
to an Equipping
Paradigm in
A challenge that will inevitably face leaders who wish to adopt an Equipping
paradigm of leadership is the fact that many congregations have been taught and
socialized to be passive recipients of ministry and may resist the change. Wright
says, "Tradition is strong in churches and difficult to change" (2003: 120). Resistance to change can in some way be explained by understanding the phenomenon
of (corporate) culture. Every congregation and ministry has its own kind of culture Roxburgh & Romanuk (2006:21). Wright (2003: 117) mentions that:
Every organization has a hidden culture that has developed over the
years that controls what is done regardless of the values we espouse.
The reason that this is noted here is to help understand that the adoption of an
Equipping approach to ministry will not ultimately depend only upon reasoned
theses. A transition to an Equipping paradigm requires nothing less than a "cultural revolution" in churches, and changing the culture of a congregation is a
complex process.
Change, however, must start somewhere. One place for it to start is with the
group of people whom this article addresses directly - Christian leaders. Leaders
are the "keeper]s] of the culture" Finzel (2000: 149). "Leaders create and sustain culture in everything they do" Wright (2003: 122). The implementation of
an Equipping paradigm therefore falls partly upon the shoulders of the leaders in
the Church. Leaders can start to explain the implications of an Equipping paradigm, based on Ephesians 4: 11- I2 in order for people to explore this paradigm
as a new possibility for ministry. Leaders can also encourage believers to discern
the ministry needs around th(
socialise. They can then help
them to minister in those area:
that environment.
4.5 The Curricula and M
The adoption of an Equippi
training. Traditionally, semin:
tutions of the Church. Howev
seminary continues to be vie
accreditation of professional
serving, with the professiona
The challenge is that training
lem: "Clericalism is passed i
Cunn ingham (1996:67) then
tion is to interpret properly tl
ingly. Leaders should not on'
be trained to train the indivi
(1994:76). Cunningham (195
ucation is to equip clergy to I
sons to recognize and dische
(1996:68-69) says that ideal
a curriculum for the "direct
should no longer equip the I
the laity directly. Morgan (J
American seminaries is "the
tion of clergy) to a 'commur
knowledge and understandir
A further consideration is .
neither be the only, nor the
some instances "Formal the
church growth and overall q
as theological education is,
Young (1988:52) says that, '
cal education could be com]
relationships provide a see
can be developed under th:
ships help bypass the cook
personal grooming. Mento:
without projecting onto the
Societal Changes that Require the Transition to an Equipping Paradigm for
Christian Leaders
e result was the creation of "a
The priesthood of all believpractice" Ogden (2003:52).
represent the priest as
:d as the professional ~, isolated man of God
ies is to raise up a func-
led to the people of God, we
:54). Leaders must no longer
~ of ministry, nor must they
~ers of their ministry. Instead
eaders who equip the body of
Equipping Paradigm in
wish to adopt an Equipping
gations have been taught and
ay resist the change. Wright
) change" (2003: 120). Resisderstanding the phenomenon
Istryhas its own kind of cul:117) mentions that:
lasdeveloped over the
he values we espouse.
and that the adoption of an
depend only upon reasoned
res nothing less than a "cullture of a congregation is a
e for it to start is with the
- Christian leaders. Leaders
~."Leaders create and sust2). The implementation of
e shoulders of the leaders in
tions of an Equipping paraIe to explore this paradigm
.ourage believers to discern
the ministry needs around them in the places where they live, work, study and
socialise. They can then help them to discern any way in which God may want
them to minister in those areas and assist them by equipping them for ministry in
that environment.
4.5 The Curricula and Method of Equipping in An Equipping Paradigm
The adoption of an Equipping paradigm also has implications for leadership
training. Traditionally, seminaries and Bible colleges have been the training institutions of the Church. However, Cunningham (1996:64) says that the theological
seminary continues to be viewed as an institution primarily for the training and
accreditation of professional ministers. This has been criticised as being "selfserving, with the professionals accrediting themselves" Cunningham (1996:65).
The challenge is that training leaders this way creates a multi-generational problem: "Clericalism is passed from generation to generation" Stevens and Collins
Cunningham (1996:67) therefore suggests that a priority for theological education is to interpret properly the term "minister" and then to adapt training accordingly. Leaders should not only be trained for their own ministry. They could also
be trained to train the individuals in their congregations and ministries Morgan
(1994:76). Cunningham (1996:65) therefore says that the "task of theological education is to equip clergy to recognize their role as equippers, and to train laypersons to recognize and discharge their role as our 'real ministers' ". Cunningham
(1996:68-69) says that ideally the priority for theological education is to design
a curriculum for the "direct training" of the "laity". In other words, seminaries
should no longer equip the laity through the clergy, but seminaries should equip
the laity directly. Morgan (1994:75) says that the most profound change within
American seminaries is "the emerging shift from a 'clerical paradigm' (preparation of clergy) to a 'community offaith paradigm' (a multi-purposed nurturing of
knowledge and understanding of a faith community)".
A further consideration is that, despite its merits, theological training should
neither be the only, nor the primary method of equipping. On the contrary, in
some instances "Formal theological training has a negative correlation to both
church growth and overall quality of churches" Schwarz (1996:23). As important
as theological education is, more is required to adequately prepare for ministry.
Young (1988:52) says that, "A seminary degree is not a work permit" . Theological education could be complemented with mentorship relationships. Mentoring
relationships provide a secure, relationship-based platform in which character
can be developed under the guidance of a seasoned leader. Mentoring relationships help bypass the cookie-cutter curricula of mass education and allows for
personal grooming. Mentorship helps cultivate the individual gifts people have
without projecting onto them stereotypical roles. More credence can also be giv47
The South African Baptist Journal of Theology
en to practical, "hands-on" training too, and more places in a training programme
could be devoted to this.
Societal Changes that
Finzel H 2000. The TOl
Communications Ministi
5. Conclusion
McNeal (1995:12) draws attention to the importance and urgency of developing
fresh approaches to leadership in order to resolve the dilemmas precipitated by
global changes:
Hardly anyone would deny that we are in a pivotal moment in
church history. The directions that church leaders take in the next
few years will shape not only the practice of Christian ministry, but
the character of the church's mission expression, into the beginning
ofthe third millennium.
An Equipping paradigm offers the Church an approach to leadership that will
prepare it to engage these changes. An Equipping paradigm positions the church
to adopt an approach of miss iona Iengagement within the culture in which it finds
itself. However before the church is able to transition to this new approach, there
must of necessity first be a change in its approach to leadership and ministry.
Leaders must no longer view themselves as the primary purveyors of ministry.
Instead they must see themselves as enablers who assist the whole Church to engage in service through the vital work of Equipping believers for their ministry.
6. Notes
This article is a partial condensation of a recently completed PhD thesis entitled "Redefining The Christian Leader's Role based on Ephesians 4:11-12: The
Leader as Equipper". The bibliographic details of the thesis lists Prof J Muller as
Supervisor, University of Pretoria, and Dr. Linzay Rinquest as Co-Supersvisor,
Cape Town Baptist Seminary.
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