Seven steps to empowering people in their giftedness
Campus pastor, Sawyer Highlands Church
Did you ever watch Scooby-Doo? I remember the rerun of the 1972 episode in which comedy legend Jonathan Winters played himself (as well as Maude Frickert). Maude’s late husband had invented radioactive chicken feed that would increase the size of chickens to giant proportions. Maude hoped that they could improve their production of fried chicken to take over the market. Unfortunately, Mr. Frickert hid the secret recipe before he died and didn’t tell his wife where it was. Shady characters were snooping around the farm, and Maude needed help. The gang joined Jonathan Winters to save the day.
Are you hungry for radioactive fried chicken? Yummy. Sounds like a show from the ’70s, doesn’t it? The reason it came to mind was because Jonathan Winters played more than one role. Not only was he Maude’s voice, but he also pretended to be the National Guard. As gifted as he was, he couldn’t save the day on his own. Church leaders are not that different. Leaders often play multiple roles. We are teachers, event planners, managers, repairmen, cooks, designers, tech gurus, janitors and office administrators. We can’t do it all alone.
Have you heard of the 80/20 rule? Twenty percent of the people do 80% of the work. Maybe you feel like 1% of the people do 99% of the work, and you are the 1%. We don’t have to function that way.
God’s Word encourages us to think of the church in broader terms. Paul wrote to the church at Corinth:
For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. (1 Corinthians 12:14-19)
Paul was dealing with a church that didn’t value every member of the body. Paul’s concern relates to us.
We need to appreciate each other. We are a community, a spiritual body. We are better together.
In small groups, it is good to have lots of people serving. We can use someone to record prayer requests and communicate them. It is good to have someone help with fun activities and someone to remember birthdays and anniversaries. Someone must host. Someone should facilitate discussion. Perhaps you like to have someone do worship or provide food. We need help. We are better together.
For church services, we have worship leaders, ushers, greeters, sound techs, projectionist, bulletin work, cleaning, maintenance and loads of people helping with children. Every person has a role. Can we get by with less? Sure. However, what we must do requires more than us. We need help. We need teachers, encouragers, givers, servants and prayer warriors. Even the one who is bound to a wheelchair has a place in the body of Christ. She can pray. She can intercede. She can petition. She can praise. She can thank God. We need prayer warriors. Everyone is important. We are a faith community.
We can’t do this alone. We can’t just hire another person. The church is not a building, concert, rally or social club. God tells us we are the body of Christ on earth. He has arranged the members. He gives people different gifts, abilities, interests, experiences and personalities. There are many parts, yet one body. No other group is like this one.
Imagine going through life without an arm, leg or ear. Maybe you don’t have to imagine; you know what that is like. God tells us we need each other. He has uniquely arranged the members of the local church to represent himself to the watching world. Let us not function like we are all the same or there is only one important role. It is our job as leaders to encourage, equip and help people discover and exercise their diverse Spirit-empowered gifts for the betterment of the whole. We are better together.
How do we help people do this? An easy answer might be to find a spiritual gifts assessment, administer it and tell people to find a place to serve. Put the burden on them. Wash our hands of responsibility. Check it off the list. Is that what God wants? How do we effectively encourage, equip and help people find their place? Our answer should include some assessment, but addressing this issue is more than a survey.
Here are seven steps to effectively encourage, equip and help people discover and exercise their diverse Spirit-empowered gifts:
Pray about how people can function as the body of Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
Teach on the nature of the body of Christ.
Plan. Have a plan to help people find their fit in the body.
Communicate this plan to the body. Where will you communicate that plan? At your welcome center? In membership class? On your website?
Know. Get to know each member of the body of Christ. You have to know your sheep to help your sheep. What is happening during the week? What are they reading? How is work? What is their marriage like? How are their kids doing? Are they introverts or extroverts? Do they seem to like teaching? Perhaps you have people take a class or an assessment tool to help them identify their gifting.
Inform the community of opportunities for people to serve in various ways. People can’t read your mind. If you need someone to help with technology, ask. Have conversations with specific people on how they can participate in the body of Christ. Let them know your needs.
Thank God for the diversity of your body of believers and his empowering Spirit. Also, don’t forget to thank those who do serve using their gifting.
I enjoy doing impersonations. Do you? They are funny and fun. Yet, we can’t be in more than one place at a time. We only have 24 hours in a day, and ultimately, we need other people. We are better together.
If you want to find out what happened to the radioactive chicken feed, you will have to watch the rest of the episode. If you want to experience the joy of 1 Corinthians 12, know this: We were made for community. God meets that need by putting us into the church and gifting us in unique ways. Isn’t that great? Imagine if we all functioned in our God-given roles in the body.
Let us do our part to help the church function as a healthy interdependent spiritual body. We are better together.