Between the two of us Tom and I travel some 450+ days a year consulting with churches and speaking to large groups of leaders. So we hear a lot from a wife source. One question I hear often is “What is the best curriculum for equipping my people?”

When I give them my stock answer – “You are the curriculum” – I get this blank stare like,” Sure, now where do I find the curriculum?”

We Westerners are so hostage to a passion for teaching content that we have a hard time understanding that modeling behavior is far more productive. We confuse teaching with modeling. The best way to equip people is by modeling what you want them to become.

A lot of books have been written on equipping. A few of them are excellent but none of them can be considered as good a curriculum as the leader. Here’s what I mean.

I see a lot of pastors trying to equip their people in a classroom setting and 95% of the time it fails. Equipping isn’t something that can be done in a classroom. It must be done on-the-job in the midst of actual ministry.

Jesus gave us the perfect example. He chose twelve people to carry on his work and then most of what he did was simply let them hang out with him. Of course, he taught, but he taught within the context of daily ministry, not in a classroom.

Here’s an example of how modeling equips people.

In my early years as a pastor I seldom went to the hospital alone. I tried to take someone with me whom I though had a heart and gift for pastoral ministry. I never asked them to spend time in a classroom, I simply let them hang out with me on my visits and then over coffee we debriefed what happened and how they felt about it. The next time I hung with them and they did the visit and I watched and then we debriefed. In time they made the visits by themselves.

A few years ago I was consulting in one of the fast growing mega churches in the Southeast. When I asked one of the staff why they thought the church had such a wonderful ratio of members to baptisms, their answer didn’t surprise me. “Our pastor does what he asks us to do. Every week he leads someone to Christ.”

The next time you want to equip your leaders don’t reach for a copy of latest program of the day. Instead, look in the mirror. That’s where you’ll find your best curriculum.

Possible sidebar

Modeling takes time and patience to see the results. It’s easier and takes less time to do ministry than to model ministry. But if you model ministry, in time many more people are doing ministry than just you. So you have to decide to prioritize how you spend your time so you can free up time to intentionally model ministry. By doing so, you are the curriculum – again.