5 Signs of a
The church was born when Christ made the proclamation to His disciples, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19-20). It’s not a wonder that would be the very last thing He would say to His disciples. Earlier in his book, Matthew shows the heart and mission of Jesus. He wrote, “Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields’” (Matthew 9:35-38).
Here we see Jesus working tirelessly on His mission to help people with their needs and to share with them the good news of how they can have a personal relationship with God. But He knows He cannot do it by Himself. So, He leaves us the Holy Spirit and commands us to go out into the world and share the message of love and hope found in Jesus. And yet, why is it that so many churches put most of their energy, staff and finances toward inward focused ministry? How many of the hours during the week are spent on ministries for church goers? What percent of the budget goes toward staffing and running of inwardly focused ministry? There is nothing wrong with preaching, teaching, discipling, raising children in the Lord, and having praise music for Sunday service. These are responsibilities that need to be taken seriously, but not at the expense of neglecting evangelism and mercy ministry. The good news is we can correct this. If those of us in the church would catch the vision of following Christ in His mission, reaching out to our neighbors, communities and the world with the gospel, we could see a major shift in the Church’s priorities.
Do you see yourself as God’s ambassador, a messenger of His truth? The truth is that is your calling. You are a disciple of Jesus Christ and He has work for you to do—joyous work, exciting work, loving work! You are Christ’s co-worker.
In order to do our mission in this world God has equipped each of us with at least one Spiritual Gift. When we think of spiritual gifts, most of us think of ability. Much like a person is a “gifted” athlete. Yes, ability is important. But in spiritual gifts, it’s God giving the ability. Certainly, the more miraculous gifts like healing, miracles, and knowledge would not happen without God. Neither, however, will teaching, helping, or leadership accomplish God’s purposes unless He empowers them. These are God-empowered abilities. A spiritual gift is a prompting of the Holy Spirit to minister through an ability that is given to us freely and is energized, animated, and empowered by God.
Paul knew the importance of the spiritual gifts and was intentional about teaching it to the early church. Spiritual gifts are special abilities given by the grace and extraordinary power of the Holy Spirit operating in believers. These abilities or passions are freely given to us by God and are to be used in ministry as a form of serving God.
Why is it that a believer and a non-believer can both be merciful and yet only the believer has the spiritual gift of mercy? The word spiritual was a new word written in the New Testament after Pentecost. It was used to refer to people, actions, attitudes and things that were orchestrated and led by the Holy Spirit. Our capacities, talents, services are spiritual when they are inspired, led and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Sadly, there is very little taught on the Holy Spirit today. Many of us face our day without the expectancy of serving Christ and being His missionary
This must change. We must join together and ask for a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our lives and the life of our church.
God calls on us to be outwardly focused in ministry and He orchestrates this ministry through each of us using our spiritual gifts. Paul writes, “A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. - It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have” (1 Corinthians 12:7&11).
Paul writes about 15 spiritual gifts that are directly involved in ministry. They are prophesying, serving, teaching, encouraging, giving, leadership, mercy, wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, discernment, helping, administration. The trouble is the majority of Christians do not know what their spiritual gifts are. And the majority of those that think they know their Spiritual Gifts don’t know when and how to use them.
There are things that you can do to help you learn more about what your spiritual gifts truly are and how to use them
Spend time in prayer
You will learn more about your spiritual gifts as you spend time with God in prayer asking Him to show you your gifts. They are spiritual gifts; therefore, find time alone with God. Talk to Him about your own gifts. Be real with God and express any doubt, fear or frustrations you may have about them. Ask God for clarity and confirmation. Ask Him to help you know how and when to use them.
Investigation is key to knowing and using your spiritual gifts. Like many other things in life there is a learning curve. If you have never studied spiritual gifts before you can get our book, Gifted – Understand My Spiritual Gifts at Amazon. It will show you the different gifts and give you an assessment that you can take online.
We have also printed a book, Wired For Ministry at Amazon. It will not only help you with your Spiritual Gifts but will also help you consider your ministry preferences, ministry drive and your ministry skills.
You owe it to yourself to investigate and find out what you can about your own spiritual gifts so you can start to use them.
Do ministry and see what happens
There is nothing that can substitute for experience. Paul told Timothy to “stir up” or “exercise” the gifts he had been given. Get out there and try them out. This is the best way to find out what spiritual inclinations God has given you. Get involved in ministry and see where your passions are.
If you think you have the gift of “helping”, be more deliberate and help some people. If “mercy”, work somewhere you can be merciful. If your gift is faith, meet with the pastor; start to trust God for great things at the church. If it’s healing, start praying earnestly for sick people.
As you get more involved in ministry where you think you may have a gift, you will soon find out if this gift is, indeed, a deep passion from God. If it is, experience will help fuel the fire. You’ll feel alive, as if you found what God really wants you to do. And you have! As you continue to minister, God will help you learn about, modify and grow in your spiritual gifts.
Add these mindsets
As you think about using your spiritual gifts, there are three mindsets you should have:
1. A Faith Mindset
It takes faith to step out and serve God. Be faithful, trust God and see Him do mighty things. Have faith that God wants to do a mighty work right here in your own home town!
An Obedience Mindset
This is where faith is tested. Stepping out in faith and praying for someone’s healing is messy. What if you publicly pray and nothing happens? You get a feeling and you think you have a discernment about a situation. You are sure it is being led from a Godly attitude. Do you share it? What if you are wrong? What if they get mad? Obedience is important, even when we are feeling inadequate, because obedience leads to maturity.
An Outwardly Focused Mindset
God came to seek those who didn’t know Him. He came with love, healing and forgiveness. He has asked us to do the same. We must reach out to those outside of the church. We can only do that when we have an outwardly focused mindset. We must pray that God will show us where we can use our skills, passions and spiritual gifts in different and creative ways to share Christ’s message of hope.
God is alive and His Holy Spirit lives inside you. He has given you spiritual gifts and wants to minister to others through you. Ask God to guide you, teach you and help you use your spiritual gifts for His purposes.
They aren’t spectators, they’re participants! The 80/20 rule doesn’t apply to this church! They are disciples of Jesus Christ, a witness of God’s love and salvation to the world around them. In their church, every person is on mission!
Just like at Pentecost, God has given his Spirit to today’s church so we can accomplish his will. Pentecost was a beginning of a new age. It was the arrival of the Holy Spirit to God’s people. A new order. The Holy Spirit came to: fill, empower, unify, mature and equip, teach and lead each member of the church for service. God does the same today.