By Shelby Jones, Assistant Director at New Life Connections Ministry, Glenn Allen, Virginia
In The Equipping Church, author Sue Mallory takes her readers on the journey she and her pastor, Charles, went on as they brought their vision for Brentwood Presbyterian Church to reality. This book is a wonderful resource for pastors and other church leaders who envision an equipping model for their church context. Mallory is open and honest as she shares the struggles they endured in taking on the vision for an equipping church. She also points out that what happened at Brentwood may not happen in other churches who desire to increase the engagement of their members in lay ministries. Each church is different, meaning the equipping model will need to take on a different shape in order to fit another context. Throughout her book, Mallory shares stories of other congregations from around the country who have successfully adopted the equipping model for ministry. She calls the leaders of those congregations equipping heroes. These are wonderful examples of how other congregations and their leaders have implemented the equipping model in a way that fits their context and community.
Mallory includes many references to scripture throughout her book. The main passage cited is Ephesians 4, however, passages from Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, and others are examined as well. Through the referencing of scripture, the reader cannot escape the biblical mandate and basis for being an equipping church. Mallory’s passion for helping congregations and their leaders to discover and affirm this mandate is obvious throughout the book. Sue Mallory’s giftedness and talent for equipping others is evident from the beginning chapter to the last.
I appreciate Mallory’s honesty, which is blunt at times. “The church by definition is the greatest gathering of potential servants in the world, but she is also the most notorious vehicle for disappointing, discouraging, and even destroying them” (Mallory, 2001, 37). It is this honesty regarding the church which illustrates the need for all churches to consider moving toward an equipping model for ministry. Mallory deals candidly with issues surrounding church culture and pastoral leadership. “Living into the church’s biblical mandate is only possible through constant attention and adjustment to changes” (Mallory, 2001, 56). Sue Mallory expresses the need for change, but also acknowledges the difficulties of making and adjusting to those changes. Because this book is based on her personal experience, Mallory does not simply acknowledge the difficulty of change. She expresses how the change impacted her and her ministry at Brentwood. It is a reminder to congregational leaders that they are not alone. Others have gone before them on this journey and still more will follow.
Every pastor and/or congregational leader needs to read The Equipping Church. Even if a congregation is actively involved in the equipping model for ministry, leaders should have a copy of this book for reference. This book has much to offer beyond the basic principles of equipping. It offers encouragement as the reader shares in the journey Mallory is on. Much can be learned from others experience. Her book will be an invaluable tool as more and more congregations begin to face the challenge and fulfill their biblical mandate as an equipping church.
The Center for Lifelong Learning will offer the course “Developing Lay Leaders,” with Dr. Eugenia Freiberger, a nationally known and much sought-after speaker on lay ministry mobilization and lay leader development. The event will take place at the Center for Lifelong Learning on February 6-8, 2017. Learn how your church can develop persons within congregations for leadership roles and ministry functions. Issues of vocational Christian calling, spiritual gifts, the mission of the church, and the role of laypersons in ministry will be examined. Participants will learn practical strategies for developing effective lay ministries in their congregations. Join us!