In Ephesians 4:11–12, the Apostle Paul says, "Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God's people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ." We believe it is the role of pastors and teachers to equip the body, but to equip the God's people "for works of service," as the New International Version translates it. This means our equipping should lead us into action, towards living on mission and becoming ministers in our sphere of influence God has planted us in.
With this goal in mind, we take a fairly non-traditional approach to this subject at Harris Creek. While "Sunday School" has been around since the late 18th Century, the American Church fell in love with the Sunday School model of equipping in the 1960s and 1970s. While there is some value to gathering to learn information about God, we believe equipping should not replace being in relationship with God. On top of that, as many in higher education are discovering, the best way to learn information is not in a large classroom taking notes. The way we learn and retain information is by living in community where we can actually practice what we have heard an expert talk about.
This is why our primary mode of equipping happens through our Life Groups. Each week, Life Groups gather in homes around our community to discuss the previous week's sermon with a resource called Group Link. Again, we believe it is important to not simply come to church to receive information about God, but we are also called to apply what we've learned to our relationship with God. Another mode of equipping we use strategically is a workshop type of environment. Unlike Sunday School in the past, most of these will be short-term opportunities. The way we choose which classes to offer are based on the challenges our congregation is facing at any given point in the life of our church. Finally, we have also hosted a few conferences to allow us to pack in significant material on a focused subject that pertains to the needs of our congregation.