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Church Development

Lesson VIII Characteristic 2: Gift-Oriented Ministry

"Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in various forms." I Peter 4:10

The basis for this quality characteristic is the idea that God calls Christians to assume ministries in the church. The role of church leadership is to help its members identify their gifts and integrate them into the ministries that match their gifts. One of the most frequent causes for work overload among volunteers is that they are serving outside the spiritual giftedness.

When we live according to our spiritual giftedness, we no longer work in our own strength, but in the power of the Holy Spirit. Schwarz and Logan's research concludes, "Most Christians are either not involved in a ministry or they function in an area that does not match their gifts".

Most churches recognize the need to train their leaders. However, few allocate the resources or do much serious preparation of members. Churches teach about the biblical concept of spiritual gifts but do little to help their members discover their individual gift. We do even less to help deploy the gifts to ministry.

A church that truly desires to mobilize its laity for ministry must recognize:
    1. God gives equipping gifts for various types of ministry.
    2. Anyone can discover those gifts and use them in a ministry both personally fulfilling and highly valuable to the church's mission.
    3. God raises up gifted leaders in response to our prayers before he asks us to reach out in ministry requiring that leadership.
    4. A church body is designed to function as a mutually dependent team, together discovering and fulfilling the assignment that God has given us.

Implementing a Gifts-Based Ministry
Church growth studies report that in a healthy church in which a sufficient number of people are using their gifts in ministry, there must be 60 well-defined roles or tasks for every 100 adults attending worship. Many of these roles are similar. For example a church of one hundred my have ten cell group leaders with the same job description. In addition you will need greeters, social activity organizers, money counters, choir members, sound equipment operators, ushers, deacons, and committee members.
Evaluate the roles and positions necessary for the ideal functioning of your church to accomplish the ministry goals in your philosophy of ministry statement. Include a basic description of each position. We have a responsibility to create an opportunity for every member of our congregation to serve using his or her gifts. This part of implementing a gifts-oriented ministry overlaps the structural function characteristic.

Once we have evaluated our situation from the standpoint of opportunities or available positions, the next step is to examine the equation from the perspective of existing gifts. In other words, what needs to be done and who has the gifts to do it.

Lay leaders do not drift into success. They need constant encouragement and training. The authors of The Leadership Challenge developed what they believe is a one word test to determine whether a person is progressing toward becoming a true leader. The test word is "We". True leaders realize that church growth is a team effort. We are stronger together than we are separate.

Characteristic 3: Passionate Spirituality
"Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer." Romans 12:11-12

In the Schwarz/Logan research, they discovered that "the important thing is not the way spirituality is expressed, but the fact that faith is actually lived out with commitment, fire, and enthusiasm. Methods, programs, and projects will not result in long-term growth.

No matter what the church's preferred spiritual style, this quality factor deals with the question of how to make the Christian's faith a personal encounter with Christ.

It has been determined that passionate spirituality always includes our senses. Without this personal relationship with Christ, there are no "styles of spirituality" that can be defined as passionate.

The prerequisite of passionate spirituality in the church is the passion that characterizes the life of its leaders. Are they curious to learn something new from God? Do they have a strong expectancy that God will "show up" and reveal Himself? Has much of what happens in the church become a calendared event? Is the routine emphasized? Do the leaders have a vision and express it?

Passionate spirituality is directly affected by peoples understanding of their gifts. A Christian who serves God in the area of his or her giftedness and call will be more enthusiastic than somebody who is just doing his or her duty. That is why one of our top priorities must be to ensure that all Christians discover their spiritual gifts and get involved in a ministry that fits their giftedness.