By Ken Kessler, Ministry Partner with The Columbia Partnership
The New Orleans Saints finally won a Super Bowl. The parties have been thrown all over the state of Louisiana, and people are hailing the creativity and risk-taking of their progressive coach. I grew up in Louisiana, pulling for the Saints. We dreamed of days like the Super Bowl night. There have been lots of tough days for Saints fans for 43 years, but they finally put it together by placing the right players with the right gifts in the right situations. The coach, Sean Payton, made some risky choices, but the choices. He knew exactly what he was doing.
What do you think would have been the reaction of football fans if Coach Payton had moved the players around for the game? What if he had made these moves?
· Changed the quarterback to center,
· Moved the center to wide receiver,
· Placed the wide receiver at defensive tackle, and
· Moved the defensive tackle to quarterback.
Surely, the Colts would have won the game, and Coach Payton and the Saints would have been the laughingstock of the league.
Absurd, you say? Yes, it really is absurd!
Is that much different than what many churches do every week in placing people in ministry settings? We take anybody to serve anywhere to just to fill positions to keep things moving on Sunday morning, Wednesdays, or any other day of the week. We have people who do not like people greeting guests and members on Sunday morning. We have people who have excellent communication skills and stick them in a room counting money. We have people who enjoy greeting people, sitting quietly in the pew, waiting for someone to notice them. In some places, you have to be a member for at least five years before you can serve somebody.
As we are on the journey of discipleship as congregations, we must connect people to their spiritual gifts and ministry calling as followers of Christ. We must get the right people with the right gifts in the right situations, just as the Saints did. Ephesians 2:8-10 reminds us that our relationship with Christ is a wonderful grace gift, but we are also created for good works that God has prepared in advance for us to do. 1 Peter 4:10 reminds us we are given a gift or gifts to serve others in the Kingdom. God has gifted us with the right gift for the right situation as his followers.
What are you doing as a congregation to change your culture from just leaving people in the pew or putting people into any slot to encouraging them to discover their gifts and passions for ministry? What have you discovered that connects people to their calling?
Some churches and ministries have sought to encourage people to be generous with their spiritual gifts through discovery processes and ministry coaching and mentoring.
· Saddleback Church created one of their foundation classes around helping people find their SHAPE (spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personality, and experiences.) Church leaders move people to the next level of their relationship with Christ through this ongoing class and mentoring conversations.
· Brentwood Baptist Church in Brentwood, Tennessee uses resources from PLACE ministries to help people discover their gifts and place of ministry. PLACE’s web site (www.placeministries.org) has assessments, workshops, and other resources to help congregations in this ministry. Brentwood has an ongoing class to help people find their ministry and has people serving as ministry coaches to help people find their calling for ministry in the church and community.
· Willow Creek Church in Barrington, Illinois developed several years ago the Network resource to help people find their gifts and ministries. Churches from all over the world use this resource to help them to develop a ministry.
· First Baptist Church of Mauldin, South Carolina, called a staff member to specifically help people find their spiritual gifts and connect them to ministry. Other large churches are investing a specific paid staff member, even just 20 hours a week, in designing systems for ministry discovery.
· Gene Wilkes, pastor of Legacy Church in Plano, Texas, and co-author of Evangelism Where You Live, created the Jesus on Leadership process for Lifeway Christian Resources that explores Jesus’ way of engaging his disciples in ministry. Jesus on Leadership uses the acrostic, SERVE, as the foundation for the gift discovery and ministry calling process.
Note: The list goes on. Join us Wednesday, February 24, at 2:00 p.m. EST for the Travel Free Learning Dialogue as we discuss these ways and others that people are using to help connect people to their calling. Maybe we can design people systems that put the right people with the right gifts in the right situations for the Kingdom. If you miss this live dialogue, go to www.TheColumbiaPartnership.org and the “Travel Free Learning Dialogues” link to listen to the recording of this session.
Important Things to Know
Ken Kessler is a Ministry Partner with The Columbia Partnership. He is also on staff with the Virginia Baptist Mission Board. The Columbia Partnership is a non-profit Christian ministry organization focused on transforming the capacity of the North American Church to pursue and sustain Christ-centered ministry. Travel Free Learning is a knowledge sharing emphasis. For more information about products and services check out the web site at www.TheColumbiaPartnership.org, send an e-mail to Client.Care@TheColumbiaPartnership.org, or call 803.622.0923.