Discipleship Equipping: Preparing Everyone for the Battle

By Joel Comiskey, free teaching videos on leading small groups, summer 2021    

Occasionally, I like to watch documentaries or read books on World War II. Over and over the surviving soldiers talk about how much they hated, yet needed, the boot camp training. In actual battle, they would respond subconsciously to what they learned through the repeated boot camp drills. The monotonous workouts they loathed during boot camp saved their lives by helping them to respond efficiently and automatically in the battle.

All believers are on the front lines of spiritual warfare, whether they like it or not. Satan and his demons want to destroy the Church of Jesus Christ. To defeat the enemy and live victoriously, the Church needs to draw on the biblical truth that comes from deep discipleship equipping.

When talking about equipping, I’m referring to the essentials of the Christian life, like how to pray and read the Bible, submitting to the Lordship of Christ, recognizing spiritual darkness, having a daily quiet time, and how to share the gospel message. Effective cell churches proactively develop all members through discipleship equipping that prepares them for the battle, just like boot camp.

Many names are used for this process: training track, equipping track, route (Ruta), school of leaders, and so forth. I like the name “discipleship equipping” because it brings out the purpose behind an equipping track: making disciples who make disciples. Here are some common principles about discipleship equipping:

  1. Equipping is biblical! (Ephesians 4). Disciples need to grow deeper in doctrine, how to have a quiet time, how to evangelize and be set free from sin. Cell churches realize that the sermon isn’t sufficient to cover all the equipping needs
  2. Equipping is a common feature in all cell churches around the world. In my study of cell churches, all of them had specific discipleship equipping that helped newcomers go from A to B.
  3. Equipping has a beginning and end. In other words, equipping, unlike the general Christian education in most churches, has a specific aim in mind. Cell churches ask those in the equipping to move through the cell stages with the goal of eventually participating on a leadership team.

For the month of August, we’ll explore the topic of discipleship equipping more fully. Experienced pastors and leaders will write twenty-five blogs on this topic. If you’d like to receive each blog daily in your inbox, please click here. We’ll cover: 

  • August 01-07: Biblical base for equipping. We’ll talk about how equipping is biblical and part of the process of making disciples who make disciples. 
  • August 08-14: How equipping fills in the knowledge gaps in a local church. Pastors and leaders want their people to understand how to evangelize, how to read the Bible, give a tithe, pray, be set free from sin, lead a cell group, and so forth. Discipleship equipping fills in the knowledge gaps.      
  • August 15-21: Key equipping principles. These characteristics include: having one equipping track in the church, freedom in how to teach the equipping, and splitting the equipping into different parts. 
  • August 22 to August 28: Equipping and online learning. Covid-19 has changed many things. While cell groups and celebration services should be “in person,” equipping and coaching could be offered online. We’ll discuss these possibilities. 
  • August 29 to September 04. Equipping pitfalls. Some churches make their equipping too long and few people graduate. Others focus on one thing too much, like Encounter retreats. We’ll talk about those pitfalls. 

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