I’ll tell you what it doesn’t look like. It doesn’t look like feeling obligated to “be there every time the doors are open” and feeling guilty if you aren’t. For starters, not every church activity is your business; obviously, I don’t go to the ladies’ Bible studies or the practice sessions for the children’s choir. In my previous post I noted, almost in passing, that all of us are gifted by the Spirit with particular aptitudes that he intends for us to use for the benefit of others in the body. We can start with that, and focus on the activities of the church for which we seem suitably fitted.
But before we start, let’s be sure we’re understanding what the Bible actually teaches about the gifts, and not the mythology that seems to have accumulated around them over the last few decades. I’ve posted on that before, and I’d encourage you to read that post now, before we proceed.
OK. If you’ve read the linked post, you know that you have one or more spiritual gifts, but that you might not know for sure what they are, and that you might not even be able to know for sure what they are. You also have natural abilities, latent or obvious; and your spiritual gifts might tie in nicely with those, or they might be distinct.
So how to proceed?
I’d suggest that you ask yourself a few simple questions:
- What do I like?
- What am I good at?
- What have other people said I’m good at?
Sure, scan down the list of spiritual gifts linked in the earlier post, but don’t limit your thinking to those terms. Lay everything out on the table.
- I like people.
- I don’t like people—or at least, they make me really uncomfortable.
- I like to stay out of the spotlight.
- I like to solve problems.
- I like to hug people who are crying.
- I like old people.
- I like one-on-one relationships more than speaking in public.
- My best subject in school was math.
- I like to fix things. Physical, mechanical things.
Keep writing things down. Take inventory. Be honest with yourself.
Now, go down the list, one item at a time, and ask yourself, “How can I use this for the kingdom?” And since it’s typically easier to start small, ask, “How can I use this for the benefit of someone in my local assembly?”
You like old people? Visit the old people in your church, especially the ones whose physical health may limit them in some way. Just sit and talk. Or take them grocery shopping. Or bring them to church, if they can get out but would rather not drive and don’t want to sit alone. Ask them what they need, and pick the things you can help with.
You like to fix things? Ask the pastor, or the facilities manager, what needs fixing, and help out with something—something you can actually fix. I know a church that had several members who were good at working on cars. One Saturday they gathered at the church, and the widows brought their cars in for a free inspection and recommendations from people they could trust.
You’re good at math? Help tutor the kids in your church who are struggling with it. Ask the homeschoolers in your church if they could use some help teaching math to their middle- or high-schooler. Especially calculus.
Like babies? Work in the nursery. Please.
Not queasy? Get certified in CPR, or get EMT certification.
And beyond all these things, just interact. Talk to others. Listen to them. Share their joys, their sorrows, their struggles. Pray for them. And with them. Meet them for coffee. Be there.
You don’t have to “be there every time the doors are open” to have a really active part in the body life of your church.
And it doesn’t have to be limited to church. You can use the gifts and abilities God has given you to advance the kingdom outside the walls of your church as well.
Like radio-controlled airplanes? Join a local club, make friends, and live out grace, mercy, and peace before them. Be a friend. One of these days one of them is going to need help, and if you’ve done that, chances are he’ll come to you.
Gospel. Grace. Life.
For the Kingdom.
Next time, one more thought on how we relate in the body.