Every Christian--Called by God, Gifted for Ministry: Implementation Guide
Our churches are filled with wonderful, devout, sincere Christians - people who come to church faithfully every Sunday, warmly greet each other on the way out, and often serve on a committee or two, yet who have never experienced in any deep or profound way that they are called by God to be disciples. Every Christian - Called by God, Gifted for Ministry celebrates the giftedness of those faithful people and invites them to find their place in ministry by identifying their God-given abilities.
For this concept to have lasting impact in your church, it will need to be more than a one-time completion of these assessment tools. You are introducing a new way for people to understand their place in the ministry of your congregation—an ongoing commitment that requires leaders who will encourage and walk with members to help them find their ministry within the church or in mission to their local communities.
This initiative should be implemented by gifted lay leadership rather than overworked pastors. There is no better way to prove you are taking the concept of lay giftedness and shared ministry seriously than to lift up individuals from the congregation to take ongoing responsibility for this aspect of your church's life together. (See page 7 of the Introduction Booklet for personal insights from a layperson whom God called out to lead the spiritual gifts ministry of her church.) God already has somebody (several people) in mind for this responsibility; ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in identifying who in your congregation has a passion for helping people discover their gifts and their place in ministry.
Some suggested opening steps for using this resource:
Discuss this material at the next elder's meeting. Lift it up in prayer, asking God to guide you in its use. Think together about what ministry could look like when every member of your congregation is being encouraged to use his or her spiritual gift(s). It will be an exciting exercise.
Prayerfully ask for God's guidance in lifting up an individual or individuals within your congregation to lead this ministry. Form a committee or small task group to support that person.
Plan an introductory event—a retreat (perhaps first with the consistory only) or a four-week Bible study that introduces people not only to spiritual gifts but also to the benefits of a small group experience. (This might be useful to kick off your fall season or as a focal point during Lent.)
Expect God to do great things in your midst and expect surprises. As you discover what it means to be a team of people with a tremendous variety of gifts, you may be led to explore new ways for your church to be in ministry.
We stand on the threshold of a new age in the Christian church—one that will depend on the laypeople in our congregations in ways we have not yet fully grasped. They need to be sent forth into ministry. Will you be part of that effort?