I’ve argued that we need a different approach to Gospel training if we are to see workers equipped to go into the neediest areas. One aspect of this is the need to start from outcomes and think about the types of competencies we are looking for in Gospel workers.
A competency is an area of ability based on natural gifting (or as Christians we may talk about spiritual gifting), training and experience. So, when we are initially assessing people, we should be asking if there is evidence of the gift and then we should be looking to see what training we can offer and what experience they need in order to grow that gift and be useful to the church.
I would suggest that when we are talking about Gospel workers that we are primarily looking for the following main competencies.
Teaching: This is the primary gift, especially when we are looking at workers who will be elders and pastors in the Church. Do they have the ability to understand what God’s Word says, to communicate clearly and apply it to our lives. There will be different ways in which the competency will be used depending on specific role and context. Some will be required to use it mainly for preaching to groups of people, others leading Bible studies and there will be some for whom the primary focus of their work is one to one.
Evangelism: Is the person able to communicate the Gospel clearly, passionately and winsomely? Part of this competency includes the ability to engage in apologetics, to defend and explain the faith, responding to objections. I would also include an element of missiology here, do they know how to cross cultures and contextualise the message?
Leadership: A Gospel worker, especially someone involved in pastoring and church planting will need to be able to lead. This includes the ability to cast vision and shape mission. It means being able to build teams, and encourage people to follow, especially through change.
Discipleship: We are called to “make disciples” and part of this includes getting involved in the lives of others, helping them to learn how to be obedient to God and holy even through challenging situations and suffering. Discipleship could therefore be seen as an aspect of teaching including the ability to offer a model or example. This then is where we will look at questions such as “are you given to hospitality?” because that welcome is the context for discipleship. Discipleship will also include pastoral care and counselling.
How do we begin to assess competencies? Well, I would suggest that you start by asking these questions.
- Has anyone observed these potential gifts in you? In fact, if people are saying that they think you might be called into pastoral ministry, it would be helpful to break it down and get their observations on each of these competencies/gifts.
- What experience do you have in each of these areas?
- What feedback have you had when you have been involved in serving in any of these areas? Can you give specific areas of where people have been challenged, where a difference has been made in their lives, where there’s evidence of others coming to Christ and/or growing in Christ?
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