Five Benefits of Advanced Discipleship Training


Equipping the Saints for Ministry – Ephesians 4:12

As pastors, it is our Biblical mandate to make disciples and equip the saints to do the work of the ministry so the Church can be built up by what each one has to offer.

All too often we become so busy doing the work of the ministry that little time is left to equip others to do the same.

But imagine what would happen if we spent the time and made the effort to train others for ministry?

Here’s what happened in our church when I took Ephesians 4:11-16 to heart.

1. Equipping the Saints for Ministry took a lot of work

The first step in equipping for ministry was to teach our people how to study the Bible for themselves.

To become more than just consumers of ministry they needed to know what they believed, why they believed it, and then be equipped to teach others. This is what 2 Timothy 2:2 commands us to do – teach others who will be able to teach others and so on.

They needed to become Contenders for the Faith once for all delivered to the saints, as we see in Jude 3.

So, we started Contenders Bible School – an intensive college-level ministry equipping school. It was quite an undertaking for a small local church!

It was a lot of work for those who attended Contenders, as well. Two-hour classes twice a week for two years. And there was a lot of homework. I learned to cook when my wife took one of our courses.

So many other pastors told me that people would not commit to doing the work. But they did.

2. Equipping the Saints for Ministry eventually lightened the load

Once we had equipped some of our people to correctly handle the Word of Truth, we needed to create opportunities for them to apply what they had learned.

I found immense blessing in listening to those I had trained preach and teach the Word of God. Some did better than others of course, but all of us have had to start somewhere.

In the safety of our own congregation, we were able to encourage and refine their ministry.

Stepping out of the way and releasing others for ministry pays huge dividends. Not only is this the spiritual directive of Ephesians 4:11-16, but it lightens the load for those in leadership.

I discovered that once our people completed their CDI training, they more than willing to step into ministry positions.

An added benefit, and one I’ve heard many times over the years, is that people gained an understanding for how much work goes into ministry. Pastor appreciation becomes real.

3. Equipping the Saints for Ministry multiplied our ministry

It is hard when key people leave your church, but when they leave to go into full-time ministry it’s a joy!

As we equipped the saints for ministry God began to call some of them into ministry elsewhere. Many went into Village Missions, the same organization that Marilyn & I have served with for many years.

What a blessing to be a sending church!

Our ministry expanded as they began to pastor other rural churches and equip those saints for ministry. And God refilled our church, sending in new people to replace those He was calling to go and serve.

4. Education and Mentoring are the two essential aspects of Discipleship.

A key component of Equipping for Ministry is mentoring. Beyond the tuition-free Bible education, we provided mentorship and training for ministry.

As individuals demonstrated faithfulness in ministry, we added more opportunities along with practical equipping. Those who began to realize a call to full-time ministry were mentored in as many areas of ministry as possible.

This process continued even after they left our congregation to follow the call to pastor another congregation. Some of these relationships have extended now over several decades.

5. The heavy lifting has been done for you.

Contenders Bible School is now available tuition-free online as the Contenders Discipleship Initiative (CDI). Pastors can use the CDI free of charge to equip their congregations to a high level of Biblical literacy and prepare them for ministry.

The heavy lifting of providing a structured curriculum through videos and guidebooks has been done, but as a CDI Local Instructor, you are more than a proctor. The CDI is designed so that the local instructor leads discussions and has the opportunity to add additional insight and content.

Contenders Discipleship Initiative is an advanced discipleship training program available online tuition-free at

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