Engaging Gifts of the Congregation Webinar


Well, greetings, in the Savior’s name. It’s good to be with everyone. Thanks Lynn and Ronda for being here. Engage in the Congregation. I’m just gonna provide a little bit of setup in terms of this conversation a little bit. And first I would like to embed it in something that we all have experience in.

We all have context right now, and that is these days of Covid. Because I think that Covid has really exposed, I think a lot as it regards church and doing church. And so I’d like to set up the conversation a little bit by maybe making this one admission from my own perspective, and maybe others would disagree with this, but leadership is insufficient to the task of caring for the needs of all.

That’s certainly been my experience and I think my own minister team, I think we would all agree that it was maybe challenging enough when we had this paradigm that’s on the screen here where we had an agreed upon time and place to meet and everybody was there and we were able with one shout out, connect with people. And so I want you to think about that arrow there as connection. We were able to connect with a great number of people in real time and perhaps now maybe it looks a bit more like this, which it really has exploded a lot of paradigms on what it looks like to connect with people and to care for people.

And now all of a sudden, again, from my perspective, is we have to rely on a lot of people to do a lot of things if the church is to be cared for. And so I would just like to maybe start with this discussion starter. And that is, what has Covid taught us about both doing church and maybe personally being church. So the doing part is the programming and the service and some of those ministries and then the being church is caring for people. I’d just love to hear your thoughts, Lynn and Ronda, on that, Arlan and Katie, just to allow these concepts to percolate a bit.

Sure. I’ll jump in there on leadership is insufficient for all these things and I really appreciate that. I think that the more that we can recognize that as leaders and then also not be embarrassed to communicate that to the church, that the real blessing in serving the Lord is to do it shoulder to shoulder, side by side. And we’ll be able to explore how God has set the gifts in the body for His purposes. But, leadership may be a visual gift that’s noticed and it’s out front leading, but such a good reminder for us, for myself, is that leadership is insufficient for the task of caring for all the needs. And so what would be the next logical step that would be for the whole family to joyfully pick up and move forward?

I appreciate that, Brother Lynn, because I think even by your admission there you have said there’s actually a healthier place to be. Maybe this isn’t all entirely the most healthy place, but you’re suggesting that perhaps our times, which has forced our hands into sharing load and into sharing the ministry, is indeed part of God’s plan. And I think that’s really, really optimistic and I think launches tonight’s conversation, I think, in a wonderful way. Arlan, you were leaning in to say something.

Yeah, I just was gonna affirm what I think others have experienced is that in a situation like this where things have been turned on their head a little bit, roles that sometimes fade into the background have come to the forefront. You know, the guys in the sound booth and brothers who are working on figuring out things like video streaming and things like that suddenly have become very much in the forefront of that. Before they just were in the background. And, I’ve been blessed by the meetings we’ve had to try to figure out how do we engage in church. And all of the various members, brothers and sisters that have been engaged in those meetings and the creativity and the forethought and the ideas that have come forward. It’s been a real blessing, I think to the church family as a whole that it’s worth thinking about.

Matt, if you’ll go back to the first slide there real quick for me, please. Leaders, all of us, take a moment and look at that leader single position. And what I think Covid has taught myself personally is I could maybe witness, I could experience my congregation. I maybe wouldn’t have a conversation with each and every congregate each Sunday or each Wednesday night. But what Covid has taught me is you go to the next slide, Matt. I no longer can see those emotions or see the week to week. I am very insufficient as a leader to touch out to sisters and so forth. And so I need, like Brother Lynn said, that shoulder to shoulder piece, I need the congregates having eyes and ears on the hearts and so forth of the congregation. And that’s the visual there, Matt, is really powerful to humble us with our insufficiency, but also encourage our bodies.

Well said Katie, and I think this is gonna provide a little bit maybe a vision and we’ll talk a little bit about that. But, we’re gonna use Ephesians 4, here tonight to be a bit of a spinal column for our conversation. I’d like just to set it up a little bit and I’ll moderate that. But Ephesians 4 is a well-known passage. And there are other great passages to speak to this topic of engaging in spiritual gifts and those types of things. And Brother Lynn, you mentioned when you realized that we were using Ephesians 4, you really like this passage, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on it as well.

Now, these are a bit of the Cliff notes here on this screen in terms of what that passage is saying. But let me just share a little bit what was profound to me, as we looked at this text, is that it starts with Jesus and it ends with Jesus. And we have in verse 8 through 10, this work of Christ. He’s the source, and there’s the work of Christ that gives rise to giving gifts for purpose which is needs. And then so that we come to the fullness of Christ. And, Lynn, I would say it really compliments really well your opening comments about being shoulder to shoulder and seeing what God perhaps intends for His church to be as a group becoming more into the fullness of Christ.

So tonight what we’re gonna do is we’re just gonna talk about the source, which is Christ. We’re gonna talk about spiritual gifts, we’re gonna talk about needs, and we’re gonna talk about maybe a vision for church. And I think most of our time, we’re gonna dedicate in that needs part. So, just want our listeners to understand that is probably the biggest thrust that’s the application part of it here. But Brother Lynn, I’d love to hear your thoughts on Ephesians 4. We’re not gonna unpack it verse by verse here, but, just some of your off the cuff comments.

Well, yeah, Ephesians 4, the whole book of Ephesians is such an encouraging book for doing church and doing it in a Christ-centered, not me-centered way. And as it starts to talk about spiritual gifts in Ephesians 4, it’s just a beautiful reminder of the diversity of the gifts and still bringing it back to that one source, but all the same Spirit. And I think we know that, but sometimes it’s just good to be reminded of that. And then he gives us the reason why, for building the body and to mature us and not just inward, not just us, within the church walls, but also outward into the communities, into the wherever we might find ourselves, so we can all grow to the fullness of Christ. So, really a beautiful Scripture for sure.

It really is. And, we’re gonna start a little bit with the source, here and in Ephesians 4:8-10, we have this spiritual gifts have everything to do with the person of Jesus. Now, I’ve put this image here of Christ behind the slide because it’s Christ-centered. Brother Lynn, you mentioned that it’s very Christ-centered. And so, while we don’t know what Jesus really looked like and likely not exactly this picture, it is a picture that we used to identify Him. And I’d like just to set that behind as we have this conversation tonight that this is about the image of Christ.

And then we have this really profound, this verse here, verse 8, wherefore he sayeth when he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive and gave gifts unto men. I mean, this is stuff like out of a great novel. Jesus, He ascends on high, He goes to the depths below, and He wins this victory of toil. And He gives gifts to men. And so we see this, the source of our gifts, find their home in the toil of Jesus. I think it casts a fresh nuance for me, certainly, on how I should view our gifts. So my question here, I guess to the both of you couples is, how does spiritual gifts come off? What do you think happens in the private minds of people when they hear now you’ve got a spiritual gift? How do we internalize our spiritual gifts? Is there some growing that we all need to do to get to a healthy place to cradle the spiritual gift God has given us? Does that make sense?

Yeah, I sure think there’s a lot of growing I have to do, but I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts on it. Just that simple phrase that he gives gifts to men. And if you go to Corinthians, the verse I find myself often quoting is that it says that He places us in the body as it pleases Him. This idea that it does begin and end with Christ. But that He chooses to use us to love as He loves in the day and age we find ourselves in. And so there is a very much an encouragement and an empowering that can happen when you think about spiritual gifts. But I think as an undergirding always remembering it’s about Jesus, it’s about bringing glory to Jesus. It’s about how do we further His mission, His purpose. And I do think that it can become, if we’re not careful, this trap where we go off into our own agendas or we begin to think that our vision or our ministry or whatnot needs to be elevated. And so that’s always the check I try to have in my heart.

So I think you’ve, I think Arlan you’ve raised a good question and a good thing to consider what misconceptions do we easily take on, when it comes to spiritual gifts, the way I view my own spiritual gifts or view other people’s spiritual gifts. So misconceptions, I think what misconceptions do we need to be on guard for? When I think of the inside thoughts of a believer, I think oftentimes if you take off the spiritual piece in our jobs or vocations or daily life, oftentimes we practice things, but don’t make them public right away. We hone them, we perfect them. And with spiritual gifting, that’s like Arlan said, Christ gave us these spiritual gifts, not because we can do them perfectly, but because they’re sanctifying us as we do them. And so therefore, I think a common misconception or inside thought in my mind is, well, I’ll hold off doing that until I’ll wait until you’re perfect at it, until I’m perfect at it, or until I feel like I’m comfortable in it. And oftentimes spiritual gifting isn’t that comfortable piece. It’s just doing as God leads and using some of my gifting and talents for such and not measuring myself with them. So that’s an inside thought. I guess a common misconception. Don’t wait until it’s perfect. God’s not asking for that. God is asking for us to use it regardless of what it looks like.

Yeah, I would probably add to that, I think just a common trend, at least I notice it in myself, is that it’s easy to minimize what we think we may be somewhat gifted in or be called to. And there’s a lot of reasons maybe for that. But again, when we really recognize the source and that Christ and part of that, again, for the building up of the body, take some of the personal responsibility and puts it in the right spot. So I think that it’s easy to minimize and which also maybe makes us procrastinate possibly and not jump in and be as involved as we could be.

Yeah, sometimes we can wait for the big moment or the big program or the committee or whatever the ministry to call you, wait for someone to call you, or when actually, sometimes it’s just that on the way. Or if you look back sometimes it’s like, oh, God did use that. You know, like, wow, and I think He has places to use it without setting up the big tent.

So, yeah. Which I think is also to try to, I mean, a question to comes to mind is, could we be using our spiritual gifts and not know it? Is that a possibility? Yeah, I think so. I think to try to foster an environment in the church that we’re all given ability to serve the kingdom in a variety of ways. And, not to wait on somebody to ask you to do something or, like Katie was saying, wait till we’ve honed it in, but to jump in there and just see how it goes. Trusting the Lord. Because, Paul reminds us that in our weakness, we recognize God’s strength, in such beautiful ways.

I wonder too, sometimes if we pointed out a little bit more, I’ve noticed myself sometimes, oh, that’s a gift, cuz like some people can cook like none other, or whatever it is. I’m not whatever the gift is. But to help point it out for our brothers and sisters because a lot of times you don’t see it yourself, I don’t think. You’re the last one to see it.

Sure. I really like that, Sister Ronda. And in fact, I’m gonna go to the next slide here because we’re gonna see a list of spiritual gifts and to Arlan’s point that all of these gifts are from Him and they are really parts of Christ. And we could, Ephesians 4, don’t necessarily unpack all of these gifts, but we find them in other places. Romans 12, Corinthians, 12 and 14 and so on and so forth. And so there is some words out there that are named as spiritual gifts, but again, imprinted behind Christ to say this is who Jesus was. This is who Jesus was. And He has given us these gifts as a part of Himself to do His work again, to come into His fullness there. I think what saying, Ronda, is to put your finger on another person’s gift, goes a long way in helping them see Christ in them.

That’s a beautiful thought. Yeah. It also affirms, sometimes we maybe don’t realize it is a gift like Ronda was alluding to, and therefore, by even just words or affirming someone, that Hey, thanks for using that gift, or, wow, that was great. Like she said, that is really encouraging. It’s a way to foster that in each congregation.

You know what strikes me as we think about this is, and you look at this list and just you think about church, pre Covid or post Covid, there are certain gifts or certain roles or certain responsibilities that are more, I’ll call ’em, spectacular or in the front or more public. And then there’s more that are like, are very many that are more mundane or are in the background. And, I mean, Corinthians actually says that the ones that are more in the background, the mundane ones, those are more important. Those are the ones that should be elevated. And, so even where my mind goes is if you think about these being a representation of Christ, and we read of Christ’s life, we read a few chapters in the Bible and it’s really focused on some pretty spectacular moments in His life, but there was a lot of in between. I mean, He was doing a lot of things all the time. And, the disciples lived with Him for three years and they saw Him in many different settings, all of which I believe represented the person and the ministry and who Christ was. And so that gives me comfort to your point Brother Lynn, about those mundane things that seem weak, that we don’t wanna talk about or we don’t feel are that spectacular. Sometimes that’s exactly where God does his greatest work. And, that’s where he gets the most glory. And, to be willing to step in, to just taking a step at a time and doing a thing at a time is really powerful, using of spiritual gifts. If we use it in that way, in that context.

I’m really keying in on Ronda mentioning some, don’t know it until you place your finger on it. Sometimes, serving in a way that you don’t recognize. How important is it for people to know their spiritual gifts? That’s just an open question. Is it the church’s role to help people put their finger on the spiritual gift? I’d just be interested and I’m sure there’s a spectrum of opinions on this matter, but I’m just curious here what your thoughts are.

Sure. Well, I think that the church should have some role there. I don’t feel like maybe the Bluffton Country Church has done an excellent job of really teaching and leading through that. But, I think what we’ve tried to do is to build an understanding, which actually most of us were raised with, that it’s not all gonna happen from leadership. It couldn’t and shouldn’t. And so let’s just all pitch in and try to make this thing work well and for the glory of God. And that can actually be a really healthy paradigm as we recognize, I guess maybe we use a large family, small family analogy. In a large family, not every child is gonna get the undivided attention of their parent. And similarly, in a large church, not every member gets the undivided attention of any of the ministers or very few of them.

And so there’s maybe an expectation of, we’re not in it for our own benefit so much as the benefit of the body. So I think those can be some beautiful things. I think the church does play a part in recognizing the importance of it, but there, I may get into it just a little bit later, but I think there’s some other gifts maybe that can, less thought of gifts that can maybe even, really benefit the body and encourage a church culture that is really filled with grace.

And we’re gonna get to that I think on the next slide, Lynn, but I’ve got a question. Do you ever thoughtfully praise, now praise is a difficult word and we don’t like praise and we usually shy away from it. But, Paul has a lot of praise for a lot of people throughout, he has high praise for Timothy. He has high praise for a Epaphroditus, he has high praise for, and in fact he goes out of his way to list quite a few people. I would guess he’s probably listed 25, 35 people by name. And, it’s an interesting discipline and it takes a lot of thought. What’s your opinion on just praising the church or thanking. Maybe we like, better thank the church specifically though.

Great question. Maybe Ronda would be better to answer if it happens from the pulpit. I would hope that the church recognizes how much we appreciate them and both sides of the aisle, which now, we’re brothers and sisters and families sitting together, which is a wonderful thing too. But, I hope they recognize how much we appreciate and love them, and just appreciate the way they do serve so selflessly would be the correct word.

Actually we did have a sermon the other day. Let’s see what, and he just looked in the audience and it was, a sparse audience. Everybody spread out, and then he just said, and I’m just looking out here and I see so-and-so, and then he talked about, he named names and their contribution in his life or to our church. And it was really powerful. Yeah. Good point. And it just really made an impression. My kids even talked about it, our family gathering. And it’s not that they didn’t pick them or it was just that he pointed some things out that needed to be pointed out. Yeah. It was powerful.

And we, actually, someone just chatted a comment, which is a great comment. I love the idea of praise and I love the idea of thankfulness and calling out people. It’s what’s, I think it’s Psalms or Proverbs says, withhold not good when it’s in the power of your hand to give it. I think that’s a command that’s given there. But it needs to be genuine too. Sometimes we can, I’ll use the phrase, butter someone up to try to get them to do something right. And say, oh man, you’ve got this gift. You can, do this. But when it’s done, spirit led out of a genuine heart of encouragement, or at least recognition, it should give the glory to God. And really build up the body as a whole.

I think to Lynn’s point too, leadership, not taking on the entire piece of it, but a part of it for sure. I find myself in conversations with different sisters or brothers, and oftentimes they’ll notice something about a different brother or sister, and I say, did you praise them for that in conversation? Did you follow up with them or did you send ’em a note or shoot ’em a text or something like that? And I didn’t. I was like, well, why didn’t you? That’s a great way for us to encourage congregates, to encourage others and not just have this top-down leadership approach, but to spread and to encourage it, to just use that and, Hey, why didn’t you? You should follow up with that, that’s really special. That’s powerful. So, using that leadership position to encourage others.

I really like that concept of genuine. I think we could spend a lot of time mining that. What does it look like to be genuine? And I think one of the components of genuine is specificity. And I’m assuming the sermon Ronda, that you mentioned, there was a degree of specificity that we’re not really hiding behind generalities there, just good and you’re great, but there’s something very specific. A quality is called out that’s God glorifying to Arlan’s point. So it’s God glorifying and specific. I think they’ve gotta be two ingredients for genuine. Yeah, for sure.

And I would say in our episodic culture we’re not real good at receiving compliments or being called out in a good way in front of people. But your example, Matt, about Paul doing it publicly with specificity is very scriptural. So thanks for bringing that up.

Let’s move now to the needs. So we talked about source being Christ,and because of the toil of Christ, He gives these gifts, all of these here and many more. This is not a complete list. And then, to meet needs and Ephesians 4 categorizes these needs and equipping the saints for the service and building up of the body. And I really like how these complement one another. Maybe they’re the opposite sides of the same coin. I don’t know. However you wanna to think about it. But you can see there is, you might say that this might be outward. I know, originally you had said, Lynn, you’d mentioned about ministry. That’s, you really liked in Ephesians 4 that it has that some of the gifts are outward and some of the gifts are inward building up of the body.

And so we have this wonderful diversity of gifts all imprinted in Christ and part of Himself in this time. I just would really like to hear, Lynn and Ronda, what are some examples of duties that you’ve called on folks to, to step up and do? Sometimes we need our creativity launched. I would love to hear some of those, how you found the individuals to do some of that. And so anyway, what are some duties that you’ve found people to rise up for?

Well, almost everything, I don’t want to wear out in this job. .Maybe Ronda could speak to that. Well, I don’t, I tried to delegate this task away too, but that didn’t work several times we followed up a lot of things. A lot of the things we have going in Bluffton specifically, several things have been going for a time, and then what happens is one guy will tap the next guy, like our work with our middle school kids or our work on Wednesday nights with high school kids, we call it SOS and Active and it’s not like we’re out there looking for the replacements. A lot of times they’re looking for the kid that’ll replace them, or the couple and that’s wonderful. And they check in.

So there’s obviously we can become very program oriented, because that motivates people and puts some organization behind it. But, we really don’t necessarily want to rely on programs all the time because that’s more the doing part than sometimes we’re not really the being part. So we have to, we’ve never really, I guess, in some ways, we’ve, I guess we just continue to ask and try to encourage the body that some of the best, most Spirit led ideas and passions come from the congregation, then there’s just encouragement. And an understood way of bringing an idea forward that could maybe come into fruition. And it’s just a neat working relationship. So if the church knows that they’re supposed to be the ones thinking and engaging, praying along with us, and then we have an understanding of how do we move forward step by step to see if it could actually turn into something that would bless the body or bless our community. So instead of just giving a lot of specific examples that, again, it’s just trying to build a culture of everybody wanting to do their part, and also wanting just to extend a huge amount of grace along the way.

Do you ever see an ebb and a flow in those different programs and ministries over time? I mean, do some things bubble up and then over time they settle down or they move into a different direction or evolve a little bit? I mean, have you sensed that in the Bluffton Country Church?

Yeah, for sure. Like a good example would be we have a 23 Plus Group we call it. And, that was really big 10 years ago maybe, and then it just faded out and now it’s being revived and that’s awesome. But again, it’s not necessarily maybe needs coming forward. People talking a little bit, but it’s still the great ideas of the congregants. You know, they’re going, I’ve just been feeling the Spirit, I’ve been feeling it, you’re like, really? Someone else has been feeling the Spirit and you’re like, wow. It’s just, I mean, if they waited on us to have all the ideas, we’d be doing nothing, I think.

And what I hear, you’re probably a connector as well, you mentioned, somebody has an idea and another and you do have a breadth of understanding, so you’re able to connect people with similar passions.

Absolutely. And if you have an idea, he’s a great guy to bring it to because he just loves ideas. He, loves to hear what God’s doing in hearts and minds of the people. I remember a retired elder shared with me a while ago. I can’t remember the exact context, but he just was talking about church and just activities in church and in his experience, he just said, you just see things sometimes have a season and then it shifts over time to a little bit different season. And, I really appreciated what I read into that was just the sensitivity to the Spirit and an attempt to hear the Spirit working in the hearts of the congregation, which to me resonates again with the Scripture that says, God puts us into his body to use the giftedness He gives it to them to accomplish the purposes that He has. And I, by nature, if I let myself will become too programmatic, if that’s a word, and I will try to make sure something continues on and I’ll get too much structure in place and not be as sensitive to the Spirit as I could be. And so that’s always been a good check to make sure it’s not about me and my plans and my spreadsheets, but about the Lord’s work so that He gets the glory, as we said before.

And I’d say one of the coolest areas where Lynn actually would’ve tapped people on the shoulder, made calls, would’ve been just mentoring in situations. It’s just so beautiful how God’s brought groups together, but you gotta make the calls, not everybody knows everything so that’s good and so it’s nice to enlighten people and bring people around and surround each other with encouragement, and that’s been really cool to see groups come together.

So I wouldn’t mind that a little bit. I’m glad you brought that up, Ronda, because I’ve had a bit of a bird’s eye view into that and have really been blessed by that. And so just to fill that out, you might have an individual or a couple in need with a specific need. And, you surround that couple or that individual with people to help, people to mentor, people to care for them. That has had to have, that’s probably required in a church of your size if people are gonna get the care that they need, especially these specific issues, which sometimes are pretty challenging.

Yeah, it’s been amazing seeing those teams work together and the Spirit working and them sharpening one another as they pour into a couple or an individual. And how do you go about selecting that team? Well, there’s not really a formula. I’m not as organized as Arlan. Sorry about that. And I don’t even have a spreadsheet. Arlan, Spiritual Gifting Administration right here. Yeah. I guess I might have a spreadsheet, but it’s not a nice one like you have . I don’t know, you brothers, both Matt and Arlan and Katie have been such a huge blessing to our churches in Bluffton and helping equip the saints in this area. So I have nothing more to offer except that just learning the congregation, and understanding a little bit their experience, their past struggles, where they’re at today, their passions, and the heart they have for people, a little bit their temperament. If you’re gonna try to help somebody that’s prickly, you might wanna have a pretty strong personality to step beside ’em. But, again, it’s just trial and error and it doesn’t always work as well as you hope. But, it is a beautiful thing when there’s enough humility that people are looking for help and they’re willing to receive. Because there’s usually people that are willing to offer, and not that they have a lot they feel that they can offer, but just enough that it can make a huge difference. So I would say thanks to you two, you three for what you’ve helped us accomplish.

Do you ever get turned down, Lynn? When you asked him today? I didn’t. I mean, cuz that’s more serious. Yeah, this is serious. I mean, that’s gotta be one of the things where you see a need, you wanna make some connections. You work the phones or the conversation, you get turned down. People are busy or they feel like they’re too busy. Anything you learned from that or is that just, a weather the storm type attitude?

It’s probably my attitude, I’m wired in a way that, that wouldn’t bother me too much because I recognize I probably don’t have a wonderful set of limits in my life. And so I respect it when I see it in other people’s lives. But I also, I think it may be good for us to think through as church leaders is when we do ask somebody to do something. You have to recognize the kind of leverage that’s fairly motivating. And so it’s probably good at that point to put in a qualifier. Say, don’t do it just because I’m asking you. You need to feel like the Holy Spirit or God is directing you to do this. You wanna take ’em off the hook right off the bat, but you can also explain why you contacted them. There was a reason behind it, and they may not see that gifting or that value in themselves, like we’ve talked about earlier. So, yeah, being turned down, it happens some, but more often I don’t want people to feel obligated to do so just because the elder asked.

I don’t feel you get turned out very often, but usually he will just call people and give ’em a general idea what we need help with, and then they’ll pray about it and then maybe they present those names to the person that we wanna try to help. And then they can say, I don’t like him. So it’s putting yourself out there and, but I think, again, it shows spiritual maturity and that’s what we’re going for. We don’t wanna be babies forever, so there’s the concept I learned from Ted Witzig when I told him once, back in the day when I talked to him. And I just said, sometimes I’m afraid to get involved because I know it’s gonna be messy and it’s gonna take a lot of time, and I’m not sure I can follow through on everything. If there’s great needs, we can’t do it. And then he just said, well, think of a stool, and you guys probably all talked about this, but just, if there’s four legs of the stool and you just be one leg, so then putting these groups together, it has just been so exciting. So, because they are just one leg of the stool, they don’t have to do it all. They work together like the body.

I think there’s a tension that I want to call out, and I’m gonna use two sides of one pole being faith. This is a real act of faith. You are relinquishing some of your counsel to another, you are relinquishing your involvement to another, you are trusting this other person to step into whatever it is. So, on one side is faith and on the other side is foolishness. Okay. Which, we probably could do right? And, say, well, that was, and so we have this, which am I being right now? Is this an act of faith or an act of foolishness? So I’d love to hear, I mean, that’s gotta go through your head. How do you process that?

Well, the whole concept of delegation, obviously, it was modeled to me in beautiful ways with, with Ed Schwartz. And it has to happen, in a large church and it should happen. But I think it communicates a beautiful message to the church when we are willing to delegate and relinquish some of that control. I mean, it’s faith building for the group. If they recognize it, that we have a lot of confidence in what the Holy Spirit is doing through and in them. But to delegate without wisdom and to do it without any type of structure or accountability, it can make life pretty difficult because it’s hard to take away something in a volunteer atmosphere. Like how do you fire a volunteer? It’s difficult to do so you just don’t wanna get yourself in that spot if you can keep from it. But to me it’s the right model. Jesus delegated so many things to a group of 12 men that made a lot of mistakes, and then He eventually ascended to heaven. He said, go and tell the world. So the Holy Spirit can do a lot of things.

Wait, I’d love to piggyback off of that illustration, which is so terrific about Jesus. And Jesus sent those 70 out to witness and He could have done it better Himself, but He asked these guys to do it. In a sense Jesus had the vision to say, these men need to learn this. I’m curious, does that ever come into your thinking to say, you know what, I’m gonna ask so-and-so to do this. Because sometimes it’s more work to have another person do the job and I would imagine you’ve found that to be the case. Let me just do this, but I’m gonna ask somebody else to do this. And so anyway, I’m just curious about that.

Well, yeah, I think experience has taught us that sometimes you sure could, well, raising children will teach you that you wanna teach them how to do something or just do it yourself. And, you guys are living that right now, but we know the right answer. Let them make some mistakes, and an imperfectly made bed is better than something that’s just perfectly done by their mom. So, I think it again, is how much are we gonna try, how many balls do we wanna keep in the air as a leader when there’s just a more joyful way of doing it? And that is having a huge amount of confidence, what the Holy Spirit’s doing in the church body, trying to be wise about how you delegate or ask people to get involved. Recognize there’s gonna be some mistakes, there’s gonna be some burnout, there’s gonna be some transition, but it’s all a learning process and one that is part of mentoring.

I really like that. Appreciate. Arlan, go ahead. I was gonna say, I really appreciate that, Lynn, because I see that within myself too. It’s almost a check of where I’m at, as in a healthy state or unhealthy state of how willing I am to let go of certain things and to take time to encourage others in certain roles. Or if I try to just stay, I’ll do it myself or I’ll just keep it myself. And it can be, if I’m honest with myself, it can be a real reflection on several deep things. It can be a reflection on do I find myself getting my worth from the things that I do versus allowing others the opportunity. Am I robbing others of the blessings of engaging in some of those activities? So I really appreciate that sharing, Brother Lynn. It’s been good to hear.

The faith foolishness piece, I would say, specifically in many different instances, whether it’s committees or counseling, mentorship, there’s a lot of pieces where it doesn’t fit, but anytime you can take the faith of a spiritual gifting and kind of walk alongside maybe lots of times it’s just starting the spiritual gifting for someone. Maybe they witnessed the committee or you bring ’em to a meeting or have a coffee, something of that. If you could just start and engage a kind of a slow transition in, I feel like that’s always a good first step. You can test the faith foolishness there, like that hit wrong, but this went well, type of deal. Provide some scaffolding. Absolutely. You’re holding their hand, but you’re not like tugging and pulling.

I think that moves us nicely now to the fourth section, which is vision. And Lynn, you’ve actually provided a great deal of vision here tonight. But we first talked about Jesus, the source, and then He gives gifts that reflect Himself to meet these needs, right. To a variety of needs so that we become into His image. There’s unity of faith, knowledge of Christ into the fullness of Christ. I mean, that’s an amazing vision. Those three bullets right there that Ephesians have that is a result of this. But really the church is an enduring, right? It generationally endures. And as you both chatted and shared ideas, you really get a sense that this is how the church matures and moves on to the next generation, right? They elect new Sunday school teachers and new people come into positions and they pass it off to another person. This idea that church is intended to be enduring, I think is part of this vision. So Lynn, I’d love to hear, and you’ve already laced a lot of tonight’s conversation with vision points. So let me give you one. You mentioned that it’s a culture. That’s a vision. You have a vision for Bluffton Country in this space, and that is a culture of saying I’ll pitch in and I’ll see a job when it needs to be done. That’s not intuitive, right? I mean, any of us have kids realize some kids just don’t see a job that needs to get done if it slapped them in the face. But others get it. They see a job that needs to be done. So anyway, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this vision of what it would look like if the church employed their gifts like Christ would like.

Well, it would be a wonderful place to come visit on a Sunday for either of you two. And I have a nice seat for either of you. So I think it’s the first chapter of the Gospel of John and is talking about Jesus, describing Him as the Word became flesh, but He was full of grace and truth. And, just maybe a real simple terms, when I would pray for a beautiful church environment, I would hope that would be a church environment filled with grace, a church environment filled with grace and a deep, sincere focus on truth. And I think that there’s a lot to think about there. And then maybe tacking on if our focus would be like really majorly focused on the gifts and the talents of a church, which is important, we want to recognize the gifts and the importance of them and the purposes of them and the source of them, that being Christ. But if that is such a large priority and a large focus.

I think there’s some people that get left out in that because there’s a lot of broken, vulnerable people actually, all of us are in some ways. And so if we can also have this concept of a grace-filled environment like Christ, but being a grace-filled environment that would be recognizing our gift of a handicap. I have a handicap, so does Ronda, so does everybodyon the Bluffton and pulpit. We don’t want to necessarily focus on that and tell the world, but we recognize it. And in that, we’re broken before Christ and we recognize how much we need Him and all those things. So, a church that wants to exercise their gifts but also recognizes how much, actually I would call it the gift of brokenness and vulnerability because everybody can relate to that if we’re honest enough. And then I think that is just a really safe place to experience and exercise gifts and make mistakes. And, people extend grace again and we move forward, stub our toe some, but we continue to try to mature in the maturity of Christ.

What I really liked about that, Lynn, is we need grace on both sides of the surface coin. If my image of all the arrows going every place there are back a few slides, if that’s gonna happen, we have to have the grace to realize I need to be poured into, I have that handicap as you mentioned and I have to have the grace to extend service to another person. So I really like that element of grace really being critical in setting loose the church to live out their gifts and serve one another, I think is excellent.

My mind goes, if we can just keep, no, go ahead. I was just thinking, if you preachers keep, just honing in on just being more like Jesus and then that goes into whatever gifts or whatever, and whether it’s at work or at church or at home and it’s just awesome if we just keep that Christ centeredness in our preaching and our whatever, our unity of faith, those concepts, and then that just bleeds into, I think, an expression of gifts and an expression of that faith.

So, I was just gonna say, my mind goes to the vision statement that the church has just recently adopted. I just wanna read that, a body of believers bound together by our love for Jesus Christ and His Word, reflecting God’s love, grace, and truth. And, that really is what I heard you describe there, Lynn, is that you have a body of believers that’s bound together by the love of Jesus that realizes their need for Him because of their handicap and their weakness and their vulnerability which really keeps the I out of the equation. And I think sometimes we get in trouble with this topic or can, when it becomes too much about, as we said before, myself or my agenda or me and we remove that and we elevate Jesus and bring attention to Him. It’s a beautiful picture, where we’re all working together for that common vision, that common purpose. So thanks for sharing that thought there.

We just have a few minutes left. Arlan, I wanted to go to some of the questions, and I think we’ve perhaps addressed a few of these. Mentioned the main mundane there at the top. Arlan, did you wanna care to call out any of these that you wanna address?

Yeah, and I’ll just give a warning. If anybody has a question on their mind they’d like to ask, you can either chat that to me right now, or you can unmute and ask it here in just a second. Otherwise, we’ll bring this to a close. I think just when you think about, I wanna go on that last one there. When you think about a small church versus a big church now, Lynn and Ronda, you’re in a big church. We’ve all interacted in different ways and small churches. Some of you listening here are part of very, very small churches.

How do you see that dynamic differently? How do you see the gifting play out in a church of 20 to 25 members versus a church of several hundred? Principals still apply or other things to consider? Probably, the vision of what kind of an environment are you encouraging in a church? I think would all apply, our few opportunities to be at small churches, to us is just a wonderful experience as you feel like more of a large family. And, I’m sure there’s challenges and there’s blessings that go along with that. But again, just to remember, that when Jesus was launching the church, talking to Peter, He said, I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. So regardless of the size, the gifting that even the personality and a large church, small church, Just remember the source Jesus said, I will build my church.

And I think that’s excellent advice, Lynn. And I would say that a small church is an advantage in having the culture that you are working at promoting in Bluffton. And we all need to pitch in. Yes, because everybody in a small church understands that we all need to pitch in. They’ve got three different responsibilities on any given Sunday, Oh and more. And so there is an element that they have that culture I think very much we talk about consumer church. This whole topic flies in the face of consumerism. You can’t have a consumerism mindset and live out this Ephesians 4 text as it’s been shown here. And certainly in a small church they understand that way pretty well. Well said.

Anybody have a question or anything that they wanted to ask?

Oh, I’m sorry. Was that a question? No, I’m just listening to see if anybody wants to chime. Oh, okay.

We are at the bottom of the hour and there are questions left unanswered. There always will be. That gives us good topics for future conversations and future discussions. Really appreciated the conversation tonight. Any last thoughts? I guess I’ll ask, anybody here? Any last thoughts that you have, you wanna share with those listening?

I would just ask maybe Ronda, just to describe what I think is a beautiful description of how the Body of Christ is supposed to function in just a simple song. Many of you have already maybe heard it, but that has been done in Bible school. Could you just describe a little bit the song? Well just, the Body of Christ and maybe you’ve heard it, but the arm, and then there’s the brain and there’s the ears and it just reminds you that, oh, the heart. And it just kinda reminds you that when they’re all working together and you put all those parts together in that song, it’s just such a beautiful example of just how we all need each other, but yet I shouldn’t be you and you shouldn’t be me. But I do love it how it just all goes together when it’s just going together in tempo. So it’d be.

That’s all we’ve got folks. Thanks for sharing that, Ronda, and I think this even speaks to the culture that we would wanna put forward. And that is one that we have different gifts you mentioned at the beginning, diversity, but wonderful unity, right? That harmony coming together in unison. So, it’s a spectacular vision and I think as leaders and as ministers, if we can catch that vision, it goes a long way. And how we can begin to communicate that over the pulpit as well. So I appreciate so much, Lynn and Ronda, your thoughts, your experience, your time. Appreciate it. Thanks very much.

And, thanks very much you all for joining us. We really appreciate you taking time out of your evening to be with us. We’ll record this, podcast, finish it, and, get it posted onto our website. And there’s one more webinar in our series this year. Later on in December, we’ll be talking about, ministry and family. And so we look forward to having you join us then again. So thank you Lynn and Ronda. Good to be with you and blessings on your evening.

Engaging Gifts of the Congregation

“Wherefore he saith, when he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.” Ephesians 4:8

Ephesians 4 states that spiritual gifts are to be centered on Jesus, for his glory and purposes and not our own. In this webinar we considered how we as pulpit ministry can identify and encourage the gifting of our congregations to do the work that God has called us to. Bro Lynn and Sis Ronda Fiechter shared of their experiences with the Bluffton Country church as they have tried to delegate, motivate, and equip their church to fulfill the ministry of Jesus among the church family and the community.

Engaging the Gifts of the Congregation