From Educating to Equipping

by Steve Cordle


Let me offer another factor we encountered in our transition to cell ministry: changing from an education mindset to an equipping mindset.

When my sons each turned 16, they wanted to drive. So they got the book: the state driver’s manual. They needed to pass a written test on the contents. But even when they passed the written test, they were not  issued a license. They also needed to pass the driving test, when they demonstrated their ability to put the book into practice. They needed to be equipped to drive, not just educated about driving.

Believers need to be equipped to minister, not just be educated about the Bible.

I was speaking with a pastor who is seeking to introduce cell ministry into his very traditional, Sunday School based church. Recently a woman told him she found the Bible study in the cell to be too shallow, she wanted to do a rigorous purchased curriculum of Bible instruction instead. She needs to know that the cell group generally won’t feature teaching on original languages or historical context, because the group is not about educating, it is ministry in action. And the goal of the church is to equip her, not just educate her.  

Those who come from a background valuing study often conclude the cell doesn’t provide sufficient opportunity for spiritual growth. The reason they draw that conclusion is they have equated gathering of knowledge with spiritual growth. However, that is not an accurate equation.

When we transitioned, we needed to help people see that our church’s goal was not to educational (though we teach), it was transformational. Our church that wants to release an army of saints who will evangelize, disciple, and serve the region will structure their ministry much differently than one that wants to educate their people in classes. Instead of a Christian Education Department we will have an Equipping Track.

I’m not against education (I’ve got a doctorate!). But most of us would agree we the American church are often educated beyond our obedience. We will not see our area won to Christ because the believers learn one more Bible factoid. Anyone who seeks to put into practice the message they hear preached on the weekend and applied in the cell – that person will grow deeply.


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