When someone becomes a follower of Christ, they are given gifts and abilities that the Lord intends for them to use in the body of Christ. As 1 Peter 4:10 says, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” These gifts and abilities are unique to each person, just like a fingerprint is unique to every individual. When a believer uses their gifts for the Lord in their local church, they are stepping into their function in the body.
Too often, new believers or followers of Christ who have not received teaching on their part to play in the body of Christ will not function in the role Jesus intended for them to play in their local church body. This means there are some church bodies that are unhealthy because vital organs are not functioning as they should.
So how do we communicate the urgency of using gifts to serve in the body of Christ? Here are three main ways to communicate the plan of God for every believer to serve.
1. Believers who want to serve God are inspired by a compelling vision.
The vision and mission of the local church is to provide a place where unbelievers can “come and See,” where believers can learn the word of God and be empowered to “go and tell.” This takes a lot of people doing a lot of work to accomplish the mission and vision.
If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.–Antoine de Saint-Exupery
The inspiration required to keep the passion alive and motivate ourselves and others to serve in their giftings must be the vision and mission of providing a way for people to “come and see” and equipping the people serving and learning to use their gifts to “go and tell.”
The “Come and See” environment in our local churches is one of worship, the word of God, praying for one another and caring for one another. When we lift up Jesus, he will draw men to him.
The “Go and Tell” mandate is realized when the church equips and empowers people who come and see to make Jesus the Lord of their life and then, in turn, spread the news about Jesus to those in the marketplace. Romans 10:14
As people use their gifts to serve the Lord and every person who comes through the doors of their local church, they are developed into fruitful ministers. Ephesians 4:16 says, “From whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
2. Believers can use their gifts in significant and meaningful ways
Sometimes believers simply need to know what their spiritual gifts are. Spiritual gifts assessments are vital in helping church volunteers find their sweet spot of serving. Discerning where an individual’s specific gift mix is best utilized is vital.
When people are operating in their gifts, they are more confident and assured that the Lord is working through them and they are making the maximum impact.
The functions of the body and the spiritual gifts are interrelated. When church volunteers understand the function and gift the Lord has given to them, this knowledge assures them that are all equally important in the work of the ministry and in God’s sight. 1 Peter 2:5 says, “You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
3. Believers serving and functioning in their gifts feel deeply appreciated, supported, and resourced.
When people want to serve the Lord and sacrifice their time, effort, and finances, they grow in their faith, grow in their connections, and grow in their gifts.
One of the best ways we can show appreciation to someone serving is to invest in their growth and provide prayer for them. In other words, when you show respect to them by being a partner in the ministry, they feel supported and resourced.
One of the best ways to resource and support a volunteer is by providing them with caring and intentional leaders and coaches. When a pastor empowers others to lead and develop people who are serving there are two major wins: 1. The leaders are being developed and stretched and trusted, 2. There are better ratios of leaders to volunteers to better disciple and care for the volunteers.
Whether you are a leader who leads a team of people or you are on a team and contribute, you are a vital part of the body of Christ. God designed the body to need you. God also designed serving in your local church as a method to develop and mature you. What a great gift of trust God has given us to serve him and his children in this way.