How I Equip People

As leaders, one of our primary responsibilities is to equip others to do the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12; 2 Timothy 2:2). To me, that is also one of the most difficult parts of leading a ministry (of any kind). It does not matter if I am training an interpreter or teaching a Deaf man to teach a small group. It is hard work!

Photo courtesy of starlight0 at

Photo courtesy of starlight0 at

Recently, I was talking to a friend, and was telling him how I went about equipping people to serve. When I explained it to him, he mentioned that he hadn’t thought about doing it that way before. I realized that my approach might be novel to some. In that case, I thought it would be worth sharing and hoping other people (e.g. you) will share their (i.e. your) methods as well.

My intention is not to write a definitive post for how to train people. Nor do I have all the answers. I just want to share what I do and, hopefully, someone others will share what they do, and we can all learn from each other!

I approach to equipping is influenced by my work as an educational interpreter. Many teachers whom I work with follow a model of teaching that goes “I do,” “we do,” and “you do.” Here is what that means in a classroom.

  • “I do.” This is where students watch the teacher do something. The teacher will do some examples on the board and walk the students through the steps of how to do whatever the teacher requires of them.
  • “We do.” This is where the teacher assists the students. Many times, the teacher will give the students some work for them to do as the teacher walks around and readily offers advice and help.
  • “You do.” Finally, the teacher has the student do the task on their own, without help from the teacher. An example of this step would be a quiz or a test.

That’s pretty common sense stuff, but how does that translate from the classroom to the Church? What I do is, first,  I identify someone who is interested in learning. Maybe they approach me or I approach them, but I find someone nonetheless. I then give them small parts of what it is they want to do, whether it be interpreting, teaching, or anything else, and have them work on the small parts. I then use those small steps to build them up to the ultimate goal of doing it themselves.

I… give them small parts of what it is they want to do, whether it be interpreting, teaching, or anything else, and have them work on the small parts

For example. I had a man, Jamie, that came to me eager to teach God’s Word. He had a true, sincere desire to convey God’s word to others and asked me to help. (Wouldn’t it be great if everyone was like that!) Of course, I agreed. I began meeting with him once a week for several months. I began teaching him the framework and ideas behind constructing a sermon and had him pay attention to my messages for the structure and how I preached (I Do). We then picked a date a couple months off for him to teach in our Deaf Church service and we started preparing for that. I had him pick a passage and prepare it the same way I taught him. I critiqued his notes, and then had him preach the whole lesson to me. The next week, we did the same thing. By the time the date came for him to preach, I had heard him preach the same message at least a half dozen times (We Do). When the time came for him to preach the lesson. He did great! We the did it again and again with different lessons until the time came when he was preparing a lesson every week to teach to a group of Deaf men without my help (You Do).

Another example is with an Interpreter. See if you can pick out the different parts. I have a young lady, Madison, that I am currently mentoring to be an interpreter. At first, I had her learn how to sign one song. We would work on that song and another interpreter and I would help her get ready to sign that one song on stage. Whenever that song would come up in church, it was her turn to interpret. As she became better with that one song, we started to add songs. As she improved, I would increase the difficulty. I would have her sign two songs in a row, or tell her on the spot that she was interpreting (I know, I’m horrible). The whole time I was giving her encouragement and advice to improve. Now, she has become a competent interpreter and just recently interpreted her first sermon on stage!

When training people, my goal is to get people to do the task. If it be interpreting, teaching, or any other facet of ministry, I take a “sink or swim” approach to equipping. This may be common sense to most people. However, it might not to some. So, now that I told you how I do it, it’s time for the “you do” part!

What are your thoughts? Has this ever worked for you? How do you equip people?

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