February 6, 2011


What a great word. Fun to say, too. Capacitation.

Not quite Carly Simon’s famous word, but close.

A version of the term I did not anticipate popped out at me unexpectedly last fall, a springy snake from one of those trickster can o’ nuts. In October, thirty of us gathered in our Social Hall with our Dominican Republic pals Pastor C. and his wife. We met for a panel discussion on ministry, hoping to learn from them home-grown insights about moving out into God’s world. Helping God’s people grow in ministry seemed naturally to take us down the path of growing leaders.

“The pastor cannot do it all himself,” C. reminded us, through our interpreter. “You have to grow leaders. You have to capacitate them.”


As the moderator of the panel time, I looked quizzically at our interpreter.

“What was that word!?”

She hastily retraced the Spanish in her mind. “That’s what he said,” somewhat bemused herself. “He’s saying capacitate them.” Pop! (the aforementioned snake from the can)

What a great word for growing ministry.

Two years ago in our church offices we were experiencing perennial problems staying connected to the Internet. The boys from Adelphia swooped in, crawled all over our building as in catacombs, and soon issued the diagnosis. Old wiring.

“We’re going to pull all new cable through the building. That should keep you connected, and increase capacity.” Indeed it has. Presbyterian bits and bytes sail along these days.

The person who trusts me will not only do what I’m doing but even greater things, because I, on my way to the Father, am giving you the same work to do that I’ve been doing. You can count on it. That’s Jesus, in John 14.

Turns out our Christ is in the capacitation business: growing God’s people—growing us!—to do greater works in the world for God. And growing congregations, too: to provide more capacity for others to share in God’s ministry. Jesus, the cable guy; rewiring the church.

I’ve spent the better part of 30 months in the catacombs of our shared spiritual house, working on what I now know to call capacitation. I wonder: How is God calling you to capacitate? In your family? your work? your world? In your self?

This month, four of us have the opportunity to capacitate the mission partnership we share with our Dominican sisters and brothers. During his visit in the fall, Pastor C. invited D.D., C.W., and me to come to the annual General Assembly meeting of his church—the Evangelical Church of the Dominican Republic.

Pastor C. was recently elected General Secretary of the entire church, and in that post he will watch over all 80+ ECDR congregations and chapels on the island, their pastors, and their mission. He tells us that by our coming he hopes to expand the blessings of our long-standing partnership by inviting other Dominican churches to consider stepping out into similar cross-cultural relationships.

His sense of call to this has awakened our own: Here in Shenango Presbytery, D.D. has encouraged Clen-More and New Wilmington churches to reach out to new congregations for sharing in the DR partnership. Already West Middlesex has responded by sending some members on our March trip. It it conceivable, in a season still on its way, that there may be multiple, parallel partnerships reciprocating between God’s people in western Penn and God’s people on the northern shores of the Dominican. Exciting stuff, and we see this as God calling us to do some rewiring. Capacitation.

What a great word. And so much fun to see.