A great portion of the work of the church can be described in these three words: Discover, Develop and Deploy.
We like the “discover” part. It includes evangelism and other tasks related to tracking down the people God is calling to Himself, and to identifying the work that He is doing in them. I love the expression of “discover” that happens in parks, on street corners and “in the marketplace.” The evangelists and pastors love bringing sheep into the fold for different reasons: the evangelist loves finding sheep, and the pastor loves shepherding them in the fold.
We even like the “develop” part. So many churches nowadays are led by men with a teaching gift, and we interpret (incorrectly, I might add, or at least incompletely) that teaching is functionally accomplishing the command “equip the saints for works of ministry.” So many teachers are excited to find audiences to teach. As a man with a teaching gift myself, I understand this snare.
But we generally overlook the “deploy” part of the equation. We miss it in three ways:
1) Our church leaders are so focused on bringing people into the church that they miss the part where we’re supposed to send them out too. We understand the metaphor of a shepherd and his sheep, but we miss the other metaphors, such as the military image that Paul uses so often in the New Testament.
2) Both church leaders and “we the sheep” are also heavily focused on the process of development. Somehow we’ve developed this perfectionist mentality that says “I need more [fill in the blank] before I can be deployed.” Maybe that’s in the form of “I need to be healed” or “I need more training in evangelism.” The goal of development is not perfection: the goal of development, of any training, is deployment.
3) We miss the ultimate point. Most Christians know of the Great Commission (“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’”). How often do we overlook the first command here: “Go”! The verb is not “be sent”; it is not “be perfect”; it’s not a “be” verb of any sort.
My point is this: the ultimate responsibility for our deployment lies with us. In fact, once we come into relationship with our Commander in Chief, all three areas are my responsibility. It is not my pastor’s job to discover my giftings, my calling, my passion, the places where God’s anointing works best on me. It’s fine if he helps, but it’s not his job. It’s not my church’s job to see that I’m equipped; though doubtless the church will be part of the equipping, it’s my responsibility.
And it’s my job to hear my orders from my Commander and obey them. Since I am in relationship with my church, no doubt they’ll be of great help in my obedience, but the responsibility is mine, not theirs. The command is “Go”, not “be sent”. I am the one that “goes”; they don’t “go” for me.