Though you desire to share ministry with others, you might wonder about their ability to lead. How do you equip others for ministry?
By Julia Higgins
Several years ago, I joined a median-sized church in a small town near a large city. At this point, I had graduated from seminary with a Master of Divinity degree in Christian Education. And through that degree, I had developed a love for teaching God’s Word. I had a strong desire to use my teaching gift to serve the local church I had joined. But I wasn’t quite sure how to get involved since I was fairly new.
I began to spend time in various ministries of the church, getting to know and be known by other members. As time went on, I connected with several people who served in the youth ministry. But at the time, they didn’t need any small group teachers for youth girls. One day, to my surprise and excitement, Andy, the college minister for the church called me to talk about teaching college-age women during Sunday morning small groups. I was elated to be asked to teach and grateful for the opportunity.
As I think back on that conversation with the college pastor, I can’t help but be appreciative of Andy. He saw a need that he could have filled himself. He could have kept the college men and women together, teaching them in one large group on Sunday mornings. The ministry was small enough where that type of setup would have worked. Yet, he was quick to share the ministry with me, allowing me to develop as a leader and mentor for the women, teaching them God’s Word and pouring myself into their lives.
Sharing the ministry
Maybe you’re like Andy and desire to share various facets of ministry with other men and women in your church. We see this biblical pattern in the New Testament, especially in Ephesians where we are told one of the functions of pastors is “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12, CSB). All church members are to minister to the body, manifesting the gifts of the Spirit for the good of the entire church. Though you have the desire to share the ministry with others, you might wonder about their ability to lead. Your question is not so much “Should I share the ministry with others?” Instead, your question may be: “How might I equip others to do the work of the ministry?”“If you want to confidently share the ministry of teaching with other disciple-makers, you must equip teachers to study the Bible so they may be effective in teaching.” — @juliabhiggins Click To Tweet
One area of ministry equipping is of utmost importance and will be foundational for all other discipleship: Bible study. If you want to confidently share the ministry of teaching with other disciple-makers, you must equip teachers to study the Bible so they may be effective in teaching. In doing this, you ultimately provide a pathway for men and women to exercise their spiritual gift of teaching. Bible study teachers should be efficient in understanding at least three areas: the grand narrative of Scripture, steps to study a passage exegetically, and the genres of Scripture. So, consider steps to help Bible study teachers understand the storyline of Scripture, adopt a particular method for exegetical study, and comprehend the biblical genres.
Equipping to understand the overarching narrative
I’ll never forget when the storyline of the Bible started to make sense to me. It was through training in my local church. The pastors decided to offer various book studies for small groups. And I signed up for a study on Vaughn Roberts’ book, God’s Big Picture: Tracing the Storyline of the Bible. I had read the Bible for years but had failed to connect the dots. Through that book, I received the tools to remember the overarching plot of the Bible and keep that plot in mind whenever reading and studying various texts. I’m grateful for pastors who saw the need to equip members in this way because it reflected a cognizance that not all church members were familiar with the entire storyline of the Bible. As you think of your own members, how might you teach them the grand narrative of Scripture?
Equipping to adopt a particular exegetical method
Just as we might assume church members “get” the overarching story of the Bible, we also might assume they know how to properly interpret passages when studying them. I’m grateful for the example of expository preaching from the pastors I’ve sat under in my life. But listening to them exposit a text didn’t equate to me being an expository teacher myself.Seminary-trained ministers can take what they learned in a hermeneutics course and design a class for their church members to learn the same topic at an appropriate learning level. Click To Tweet
Seminary provided me with the tools of exegetical study based on the inductive method. Sharing the ministry then looks like passing on what we learned about studying the Bible. What would it look like for seminary-trained ministers to take what they learned in a hermeneutics course and design a course for their church members to learn the same topic at an appropriate learning level for church members?
Equipping to comprehend biblical genres
To help enrich Bible study teachers in their understanding of Scripture, consider introducing them to the idea that the Bible contains various types of literature or genres: narratives, poetry, apocalyptic, prophecy, epistles, etc. The average church member may be aware that the Bible comes in various literary forms, but they likely have not been instructed on what that means for how they interpret a text.“If you’re able to provide a strong foundation for Bible study, imagine the impact upon ministry efforts as the teachers go and disciple others to do the same.” — @juliabhiggins Click To Tweet
Each of these three topics (the overarching narrative, exegetical method, and biblical genres) could be taught together over the course of a semester or even over a weekend for Bible study teachers. Or you could spend a semester on each topic. The possibilities for teaching these concepts are endless. And they should be taught in a way that’s specific to the needs of the particular church and its teachers. The goal is to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry. If you’re able to provide a strong foundation for Bible study—teaching teachers about the grand narrative of Scripture, a proper method of interpretation, and how to study various texts in light of their literary genre—imagine the impact upon ministry efforts as the teachers go and disciple others to do the same.
- Empowered & Equipped: Bible Exposition for Women Who Teach the Scriptures by Julia Higgins
- How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart
- Creative Bible Teaching by Lawrence O. Richards and Gary Bredfeldt
- Lifeway Women Academy
For permission to republish this article, please email Marissa Postell Sullivan.
Julia B. Higgins serves as assistant professor of ministry to women and associate dean of graduate program administration at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. She is the author of Empowered & Equipped: Bible Exposition for Women Who Teach the Scriptures (B&H, 2022).