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Archive for Equipping

Sep
06

Check Out Your Equipment:: 3

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Romans 12 begins with Paul’s statement on worship. In worship we present our bodies and have our minds renewed, enabling us to discern and agree with God’s will. This pattern works for the individual believer as well as the corporate body. As we agree with God’s will and put it into practice, humility is required because we are confronted with the immediate reality that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. We are individual members who belong to a unified body, working together for a common good. To accomplish this, Paul added, we have been given spiritual gifts.

In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well (Romans 12:6, NLT).

Spiritual gifts are supernatural enablement given to each Christian by the Holy Spirit for the discharge of his or her special responsibility in the Church. Over the years, I’ve found the following principles to be of general help in understanding spiritual gifts. Most of this is nothing new, but at least should serve as a helpful reminder.
1. The gifts come from the Holy Spirit as He wills.
2. The purpose of the gifts is to build up the body of Christ and equip us for mission beyond the walls.
3. The gift lists in the New Testament are not exhaustive, otherwise they would be uniform. The focus of each list is on the variety of gifts available to believers.
4. Though we don’t possess all of the gifts, we are to exercise the function of all of the gifts. In other words, just because a person does not have the gift of mercy does not mean that person is exempt from being merciful.
5. The gifts may have as much to do with how you serve as they do where you serve. I’m not sure that the gifts were intended to be hard categories for positions of service in the church. I think people are free to pursue opportunities, passions, and callings for a variety of service in the body. However, your gift is your gift and your gift will inflect how you serve where ever you serve.
6. The single best way to identify your gift is to serve. There are all kinds of spiritual gifts inventories that are available that can help a person identify their spiritual gift mix. But the best way to identify your gift is to serve.
7. One way for us to discern God’s will in our churches is to see who God is adding to our bodies. Each person that joins your church either exposes a deficiency in your church or informs your church of God’s direction for your church.

We’re two thirds of the way through training camp. Next week I’ll talk about how we put all of this into practice. Thanks for dropping in this week!

Sep
04

Check Out Your Equipment:: 1

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Last week I posted a series on worship. I defined worship as “our appropriate response to the self-disclosure of God.” The value of corporate worship is that it energizes the church for its mission beyond the walls. As we present our bodies and become renewed in our minds, we are able to discern God’s will and direction for the body. This past weekend in worship I shared the second element of training camp: checking out our equipment.

“Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us” (Romans 12:3, NLT).

The first challenge Paul offers following his words on worship is that we should pursue genuine humility. Humility was a cardinal virtue of the early church, a philosophy that was totally counter culture to Greek and Roman thought. The value in Paul’s thinking was that humility would keep believers from becoming status conscious. Humility is not thinking less of oneself than is reasonable, but simply taking on an honest self perception.

An accurate self estimation, though, requires a point of reference. In today’s culture, we estimate our value on the basis of comparing ourselves with others. Am I smarter than those I work with? Do my kids have a higher G.P.A.? Do I make more than my peers? Do I have a nicer home or a more expensive car? Is my spouse more physically attractive that the spouses of others? Am I thinner than my friends and neighbors? When we lack true humility, those questions creep into our heads. The problem with such comparisons is that we seek out the company of those who feed our ego. Every Scott Farkus needs a “toadie” to validate himself.

In the Kingdom of God, we estimate ourselves on the basis of “the faith God has given us.” Our standard of measure is not our neighbor; it is the Lord Jesus himself. When Jesus is our point of reference, we are able to find our true self worth. Our significance is in Him. And when Christ is our source of significance, we can worry less about “self confidence” and more about “God confidence.”

Categories : Equipping, Humility, Romans
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Sep
23

Mission Ahead: Equip! (part 2)

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Ephesians 4:11-16 gives us the pattern for equipping in the church. I’m going to express that pattern in three progressive steps.

First, we must Discover our S.H.A.P.E. This language is borrowed from Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Church. S.H.A.P.E. is an acronym that describes the five essential tools in our personal ministry toolbox.
S = Spiritual Gifts
H = Heart (passion)
A = Abilities (skills, natural talents)
P = Personality (introvert or extrovert)
E = Experiences (positive and painful)
God has hard wired us to serve him. He doesn’t waste anything.

Next, we must Develop our Strengths. The best way to do this, of course, is to get out of the bleachers and onto the playing field. Classroom settings may help us to discover our S.H.A.P.E., but the fact of the matter is that all of the classroom experiences in the world will not make you an effective disciple of Jesus Christ.

Finally, we must Deploy our Service. The goal of equipping is not the activity of equipping itself. The goal is focused on end results. The church is to be a missional training center that is deeply committed to multiplying leaders. The objective is to have the right person in the right place for the right reason. When a church is committed to leadership development, it can anticipate four outcomes:
1. Ministry (Ephesians 4:12, we “do his work”)
2. Muscle (Ephesians 4:12, “and build up the church, the body of Christ”)
3. Maturity (Ephesians 4:13, “This will all continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord”)
4. Measure Up (Ephesians 4:13, “measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.”)

Are you prepared? Or will you stand at the point of need and call for help? It has been said that God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called. My prayer for each of us is that we will all become developed so that we can be released into the work of the Kingdom of God.

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Sep
22

Mission Ahead: Equip!

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Several years ago I was having lunch at a restaurant with a friend. During the course of our conversation, we suddenly heard a crash from a booth across the room. It sounded like a server had dropped an entire tray of food. When we looked over we saw a man sitting at his table struggling to breathe. He had both hands up to his throat and it was obvious that he was choking. Two servers ran to the table and started asking for help. My friend jumped up and went to the choking man. He lifted him up out of his seat and began to perform the Heimlich maneuver. After several sharp thrusts the food was dislodged and he was able to breathe again. Those of us who witnessed the act stood and cheered.

My friend was a hero. The restaurant paid for our meal. Several people came over to congratulate my friend on his quick thinking and clear headed response. His appropriate reply was, “I’ve had some first aid and CPR training.” While the witnesses were impressed by hiss speedy response, the bottom line is that he was prepared.

In his book Unfinished Business, Greg Ogden remarks that the first reformation returned the Bible to the people of God, and the second reformation returned the ministry to the people of God.
The biblical pattern of Ephesians 4:11-16 instructs gifted pastors to equip the members who in turn are to do the work of the ministry. Pastors deploy their gifts so the body can discover, develop, and deploy their gifts their gifts.

So how do we go about this? Tomorrow I’ll share three steps in our strategy to equip the people of God that we are doing at Ashworth Road.

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