A Common Identity, Our Unique Calling

OurUniqueCalling

When we speak of Spiritual Gifts, we are talking about those unique gifts and talents that the Lord gives to us to use for His purpose and glory.  For some it is teaching, shepherding, and leading.  Others may be gifted in prayer, hospitality, and service.  There are many gifts, just as there are many parts of the body.  While together we represent the body, our individual gifts are like the body parts working in accordance to their gifts.  The eye doesn’t do the work of the heart, each must do it’s part:

1 Corinthians 12:12-27 (NIRV)

One Body but Many Parts

12 There is one body, but it has many parts. But all its many parts make up one body. It is the same with Christ. 13 We were all baptized by one Holy Spirit. And so we are formed into one body. It didn’t matter whether we were Jews or Gentiles, slaves or free people. We were all given the same Spirit to drink. 14 So the body is not made up of just one part. It has many parts.

15 Suppose the foot says, “I am not a hand. So I don’t belong to the body.” By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the body. 16 And suppose the ear says, “I am not an eye. So I don’t belong to the body.” By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, how could it hear? If the whole body were an ear, how could it smell? 18 God has placed each part in the body just as he wanted it to be. 19 If all the parts were the same, how could there be a body? 20 As it is, there are many parts. But there is only one body.

21 The eye can’t say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 In fact, it is just the opposite. The parts of the body that seem to be weaker are the ones we can’t do without. 23 The parts that we think are less important we treat with special honor. The private parts aren’t shown. But they are treated with special care. 24 The parts that can be shown don’t need special care. But God has put together all the parts of the body. And he has given more honor to the parts that didn’t have any. 25 In that way, the parts of the body will not take sides. All of them will take care of one another. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it. If one part is honored, every part shares in its joy.

27 You are the body of Christ. Each one of you is a part of it.

What does this mean for our ministries?

Imagine what would happen in your city, if every Women’s Ministry (or Church) decided it would focus on helping the homeless.  That is a noble cause!  But, what about the orphans?  The widows?  The disabled?  What about the kids who need to hear those VBS lessons?  What about the unexpected pregnancies?  Or, the women who are in recovery?

If we all focused on just one particular group, the results for that group would be amazing.  However, the impact on the other groups would be devastating.

As ministries, when we embrace our unique calling as a collective group, we divide the load.  Many hands do make light work, but many hands also reach more people… different people… in different ways.

How do we know our calling and live it out as a ministry?

Seek the Lord – begin your search for understanding by coming to the Lord in prayer.  Ask Him to reveal to you the needs in your community, your place in the church and community, and how he would have you serve.

Speak to Your Pastor –  it is important to understand that if your ministry is underneath the authority of the church that you should be supporting the vision/calling of your church.  If your church is called to reaching the community for Christ, then your mission as a ministry is to reach women for Christ.  If your church has a heart for those who are orphaned, in foster care, etc. then so should your ministry.  If your ministry is not under the authority of the church, seek God for further clarity.

Test the Women – if you have not done it yet, have your women take a spiritual gifts test.  By identifying their individual gifting you can see how they can fit within the existing ministry or expand the reach of your ministry.

Connect with Other Leaders –  make it a point to get to know other ministry leaders in your area.  If you see that multiple ministries are already serving one group of people well, you can look at other groups that need service.  If a need presents itself in the community that is too big for one group to handle alone, partner up.

There are some churches and organizations that have the means (resources and people) to have a vision/mission/calling that has a broader casting.  That is ok!  Perhaps it is time for a NEW ministry to be apart of your church, or a new group to be served.  The point is that we are intentional about how we serve in our community by seeking the Lord and through communication between our Pastors and community leaders.

 

Ministry Volunteers

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Imagine, if you will, what it would be like to not have to hunt down volunteers.

To announce a need, and immediately hands raise… sign up sheets fill up… you have more volunteers than you can even use.

What if I told you that I truly believe this can happen?  And, what if I told you that the reason it doesn’t happen is probably our own fault as leaders?

It is so easy to create a ministry that survives on the backs of those who eagerly seek us out.  The ones who come to us before we even ask, because they just know in their hearts where God has called their gifting.  It is also easy to build a ministry full of people who we know really well.  We know who has certain talents, who is dependable, and who is available.  We also know who is most likely to say yes when we ask for help.   Truth be told, those women probably make up about 10% – 20% of the women in the church.

What about the other women?  The ones who walk through the doors each Sunday, attend Bible Studies, register for women’s events… why are they not engaged?

Spiritual Gifting

The first thing we need to understand is that most likely very few of the women in the church know what their spiritual gifts are.  They may have acquired skills and talents from on the job training, education, etc.   However, those skills may not be their spiritual gifts.  These women not only don’t know what their spiritual gifts are, but they may not even understand what spiritual gifts are, how they get them, or why they get them.

As leaders of women in the church we should be encouraging all of the women in our care to explore their spiritual gifts.  There are online tests, books, and studies on this subject.  Encourage the women to identify their spiritual gifts, help them through the process if needed.

Serving The Gift

Once we have helped the women identify what their spiritual gifts are, then we need to help them find a place to engage their gift in the ministry, church, or community.  The Church Office, Ministries, Committees, and organizations are in need of people who have the gifts of Leadership, Administration.    Our Small Group, Bible Study, Sunday School, Children’s Church, and events are in need of people who have the spiritual gifts of Teaching, Shepherding.  As we plan events we need women who have the gift of Hospitality, Serving, Prayer.

These gifts may intersect with acquired skills, and some people have more than one dominant gift.   As we help the women identify their gifts, we then can find a place where that gift be used.

Train the Gift

We can not assume that just because a person’s gift has been identified that we can just send the woman off to serve without guidance.  She may feel insecure, and need support.  There may be technical training needed.  A woman may have a gift for teaching, but yet lack maturity in faith to send her off to teach a 20 week study on Revelation all on her own.  It is our job as leaders to not only identify the gift and where that gift can be used, but to also mentor and foster the development of that gift.  We must be careful not to exploit the gifts of others, we are to be encouragers.

The Women Are Many

Statistically we know that the average church has a membership that is comprised of 60-75% women.  That is a large number of women to walk through this process.  The good news is that we are not alone.

  1.  Start with a single group of women at a time.  There is no need to boil the ocean all at one time.   If you are a ministry team of one, start with 4 or 5 women.  You may begin to identify other leaders who could help you as move forward.
  2. Divide the load.  If you have a team of several women, start by Spiritual Gifts testing the team.  Once you have their gifts clearly identified, you can pair them up with women from the church that share a similar gifting.  Let the team member who is gifted in Hospitality mentor the women who had test results that indicated Hospitality.
  3. There is no need to rush.  Identifying the gift using a Spiritual Gifts Test doesn’t take much time at all.  Coming up with a list of places in the church or community that could benefit from the list might be easy too.  However the process of fostering and developing that gift will vary from woman to woman.

If we set a goal to include Spiritual Gifts testing, engagement, and equipping as part of our ministry discipleship plan… we should never be at a need for volunteers.  We shouldn’t have to chase people down, clipboards in hand, in the church lobby.  Nor will we need to call in favors or put the already taxed few on the spot.  We will be creating an environment within the church that recognizes that every member has a role in the body.

1 Corinthians 12:12-27

Unity and Diversity in the Body

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[a] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

I love verse 18:

 “But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.”

If God places people in the church body, every one of them, is just as God wanted them to be.  An active part of the body, fulfilling it’s purpose.

When a body part goes unused it atrophies, which means it withers, shrinks, wastes away… it is no longer effective.

What happens to the parts of our church bodies that go unused?

Perhaps if we engaged those parts, strengthened them… the whole body would grow stronger.