Before you can entrust big things (projects, events, sermons, etc) to someone, you want to make sure they have been faithful in little things (Matt 25:21).
We don’t simply do this to make sure they’re effective, or worthy. We do it for their sake too. It’s not very loving to give someone something that they obviously aren’t ready/gifted to take on… yet.
So what are the little things you give people to do?
It’s worth having a list of things – things you can say “have a go at this” without too much internal conflict about the results.
This is just one of the principles we made clear from the start with our staff. Staff don’t take gifts from the congregation.
There’s OK gifts like “let me buy you a coffee” or “It’s your birthday”… they are common gifts for people to give one another, regardless of position or authority.
It’s more about those gifts that are given in response to someone “being the pastor”. Things like, “I just wanted to say thanks for everything you’ve done”, or “I thought this would be really helpful to your future ministry”.
There’s a few reasons why:
- It’s unlawful (unless your declare the value of the gift when you do your tax).
- People’s hearts are very deceitful. They may not intend to, but the day may come when they think they have some right over you because they gave you this gift.
- Your heart is very deceitful. You may think it impossible, but the day may come when you give them special treatment because of the gift you were given.
- If they think that item is “valuable to your ministry” they should speak to your board/elders/etc. Otherwise, they are taking a gift that is meant “for the church” and rather than trusting God’s appointed leaders, they’re taking on themselves what should happen with that money/gift.
There is, however, scope for your board/elders/etc to approve gifts and things… that way there are other people who can keep you accountable in how you treat that person.
We must be careful that we do not judge ourselves or others by their lack of certain ministry gifts.
Unfortunately, this seems to happen a lot. A godly person sees someone else’s gifts; leadership, preaching, music, prayer, welcoming, stewardship, whatever. They see the value if those gifts and they hear people talk up those who have them. Then they start to feel ashamed or guilty or unworthy or useless because they don’t have those gifts.
But if gifts are just that; gifts given by God according to his pleasure and grace, you can’t be proud of your own, nor feel judged by others possession of them. It has nothing to do with you.
Similarly, if you’re a leader, be careful not to suggest that because someone doesn’t have a certain gift they are somehow less mature or less godly. Gifts are gifts. Yes, God might seem to give many if your most godly people the gifts needed to be a growth group leader. But they aren’t casually connected. Gifts are gifts. Some very godly people don’t have those gifts. Some very ungodly people do have those gifts.
Thank God for godly people and thank God for gifted people.
Do you have a good reason for using a roster to run your church meetings? Not just any reason, but a good reason? Some churches (I suspect) have very bad reasons.
“So that everyone gets to have a go.” Is that a good reason or a bad reason? 1Cor 12 would suggest that not everyone is suited to “having a go”. In fact, I’d argue that letting anyone have a go goes against the point of 1Cor 12.
“Because it makes people feel good when they get a go.” I’m all for people feeling good, but are they doing it at the expense of the congregation? Are they doing it with good motives or do they just want to feel good?
Christian service is meant to be Jesus shaped. It’s self-humbling for the sake of other people. If you’re going to have a roster, fill it with people who want to serve because they’re willing to put in the hard yards for the sake of the people they’re serving. Don’t get the people who just want a turn, or who like how it feels for them. Love them by saying no.
At one level, of course it’s right. We trust God alone to effect change and give growth and value to all that we do.
But for that very same reason it can be bad advice. Because didn’t the God who you trust make you? And not just make you as a blank page, but he – by the power of his Spirit has given you gifts for the good of his church? That is, when you use your gifts, your talents, your particularities to serve God, aren’t you trusting in his goodness in that very work?
“What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? 1Cor 4:7″
This is a great truth — not only to refute those who were boasting, but also to encourage those who shy away from using their gifts in some vain desire to avoid “trusting in themselves”. You have the gift from god, you received it. It’s not actually yours!
So, trust in your God given ability to make something happen, giving thanksgiving in your heart to God.
Eph 4 was the kicker for me. Here’s how it goes:
- Jesus gives certain people to the church; [“Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastor-teachers”] (Leaders)
- These people are meant to “equip Jesus’ people for works of service” (Training, Mentoring, Encouraging)
- So, Jesus gives leaders who train church members so that “the body of Christ may be built up”.
That all seems ok, until you consider 2 things.
First, what does he mean that an “Evangelist” should equip Jesus’ people for works of service? Shouldn’t an Evangelist be out, you know, evangelising? Well, it’s not that they can’t do that, it’s just that Eph 4 says if they are one of Jesus’ gifts to his church, their primary role is to equip others so they can serve (presumably then more people can be better evangelists).
Second, this doesn’t read like an exhaustive list of roles, does it? In fact, it starts very similar to 1Corinthians 12:28. And there are other similarities between Eph4 and 1Cor12. E.g. Jesus gives people certain strengths, Gifts are to be used for the common good of Jesus’ people.
So, your staff all have certain gifts that Jesus has given them, right? Your staff and leaders aren’t all carbon copies! Jesus has given them to your church with certain skills and abilities. Eph4 says that, as leaders, they are primarily there to use those gifts for the common good of the church.
So, how are your staff/leaders built by Jesus? How are they being freed up to equip the saints in their particular gifts?
God gives gifts to individuals (like you) to serve his people (your church and the non-Christians around you).
Gifts from God enable people to do particular tasks really well.
If you’re struggling to do something at an average standard (kids ministry, preaching, music, admin) it might simply mean you’re not gifted in that role. That’s ok.
That doesn’t mean you stop necessarily. It might be thatGod will give you that gift in time. Or you might be in a situation where people around you need at least something, in which case your gift can be self-sacrifice.
And isn’t that everyone’s gift to give?