Commissioning: A Simple Tool for Activating People’s Gifts


David Ferguson, one of the authors of Hero Maker: 5 Essential Practices for Leaders to Multiply Leaders, describes how the simple act of commissioning church leaders can bless their ministries and affirm their gifts. He describes how laying hands on and praying for leaders and ministries teams has energized the leadership culture in his church.

How can you bless people who serve and activate their gifts? Commissioning is the simple process of blessing a person or team and affirming the use of the gifts God has given them. It will most likely involve two components:

1. Laying your hands on them as a sign of affirmation.
2. Praying for God to bless them as you send them out.

The commissioning is an important relational and personal blessing that “hero making” leaders give to those they are developing. I have commissioned new small group leaders in a home. I have commissioned people who are leaving to start a new ministry or church at staff meetings in restaurants. Commissioning can be done for a leader or leadership team starting a new group or team. It can be done for an individual or a team starting a new church.

An overwhelming response

The first time we did a public commissioning at Community Christian Church, we were overwhelmed at the response. We concluded a message with the invitation, “If you believe God has called you to a specific ministry and would like to be anointed and prayed for, please come forward.” We didn’t have to wait long. Not just a few, or even a section, but the majority of the people got out of their seats and came forward. That happened not just at one service, but at all of them that day. Wow!

An annual event

It’s now become an annual event at Community Christian. Once a year we have a day on which we anoint and pray for everyone who wants to be commissioned for what we call the Jesus mission. This Sunday celebration includes a commissioning for each of our small groups. We prime the group members by saying, “You need to be able to answer the question, ‘Where and to whom are we commissioning you to go and bless the world?”

We make available a simple document that quotes Acts 13:2-4, where Barnabas and Paul are commissioned, and answers three questions: What is commissioning? Why should every group participate? Why commissioning? And how can I create a culture within my small group where we live out the Jesus mission?

Blessed to be a blessing

Then we ask anyone who wants to be commissioned to come to the front of the room where we are meeting, and we anoint them and pray for them. We consider it their ordination. In every way, we try to communicate, “We are for you, we are behind you as a church, and you have our blessing. Go out and accomplish that mission!”

We’ve done this for many years, and I am always blown away by the response. In particular, I’m stunned at how seriously they take this idea of being commissioned for a specific mission. Through the laying on of hands and praying a blessing on people, we convey a powerful message: If you are a Christ follower, we want to help you activate the unique gifts and calling that God has given you.

Related ResourcesHero Maker


About Author

Dave Ferguson Head Shot

Dave Ferguson ( is lead pastor of Chicago’s Community Christian Church, a multisite missional community. He is also the visionary for New Thing, an international church-planting movement, and president of the Exponential Conference.

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