Wednesday, August 22, 2018

You Can Put Square Pegs in Square Holes

Grace was insistent, "Since you now have an 'Empty Nest' you have to fill it."

Our son Kevin had recently left to attend school in another state, and our daughter, Rhonda, was married and starting a family of her own. My wife and I looked forward to a quiet house with just the two of us, while Grace, a friend from church wanted us to take in a refugee from Ethiopia. Grace had a passionate compassion for refugees and their families. Since the end of the Viet Nam war, she had sponsored and settled many tens of refugees. Unfortunately, our passions for serving God took us in other directions. we were teachers, encouragers, and leaders.

We sincerely believe that the Lord has placed within each of us a desire to serve Him in specific ways. He has also provided the spiritual gifts for us to be successful in what we are called.

To paraphrase the apostle Paul in Romans Chapter 12: Although there are many members in the body, they do not all have the same function. Each has been given differing gifts appropriate to the call that God has on them. It is important to realize that it is the Lord that builds the church and He has placed within each body all of the gifts and callings that are required for that particular body to perform its God-given mission. Even the smallest of churches has the gifts it needs to do God's will at a particular time.

Paul continues to list seven gifts that are common in most bodies - prophecy, serving, teaching, encouraging, giving, leading, and a shower of mercy.

Grace was a shower of mercy.

For many years as a pastor and church planter, one important task was to develop a functional team that would follow the Lord's direction and fulfill His call. An effective method we used was to recruit and employ members to function in their particular area of call and gifting. Teachers teaching, leaders leading, servants serving, encouragers encouraging, those with the gift of prophecy, speaking forth, givers, giving, and showers of mercy touching lives.

Begging for volunteers, and putting warm bodies in a position, just because they are available does not work. Assigning someone a leadership position, because of their secular success is not always helpful.

Early on we made those same mistakes. It wasn't until we found a method to identify a person's motivational gifting that we began to find success in our recruiting and deploying. It not only worked at the church, but we were better able to understand our family dynamics. We required our immediate family to discover their individual gifts.

One of the first things we did in a new church was to teach a series on motivational gifts from Romans 12, then allow everyone to take a gift assessment test that Rita and I had developed. People then were allowed to opt out of a task if it did not fit their gift mix but would be asked to fill positions in their specialties. Not surprisingly we had stronger ministries and fewer people burning out.

Not long ago we published a short book that includes lessons on gifts, descriptions of the characteristics of each gift and a gift assessment test. If this is something that you might be interested in, it is available free on our website Aslan Ministries The book is available in most electronic formats.

What has been your experience of using spiritual gifts to organize your church?

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