Spiritual gifts are essential tools God gives us, his people, in order to fulfill his Kingdom mission. We each need to be instructed in the nature of use of spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12:1) A spiritual gift is a special ability God gives to Christ-follower for the purpose of service. They are different from the fruit of the Sprit (which are character traits). List of gifts can be found in 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, and elsewhere.
One of the truths about gifts that I don’t often hear taught is that they are amplification of common Christian traits.
For example, some people have the gift of helps. They love to work behind the scenes to help others in practical ways. While not every believer will have this gift, we are all to pitch in and help when the occasion requires it.
We are all called, for instance, to share our faith. But some are uniquely gifted so that people come to Christ more frequently when they share their faith. They have the gift of evangelism.
Even those with the same gift will have it in different proportions. One evangelist may be effective in leading hundreds to Christ, while someone like Billy Graham leads millions.
Spiritual gifts are not a “have it or you don’t” proposition — it is a matter of proportion.
Unless we understand this, our spiritual growth will be stunted as we shrink back from basic Christian ministry in the name of giftedness. ” I can’t talk to that person about Jesus, I don’t have the gift of evangelism.” Or, “I can’t pray for that person to be healed because I don’t have the gift of healing.” Minister as the occasion requires, but spend more of your time in areas you are most gifted.
Spiritual gifts are not given by God to limit how we respond to needs. They simply add to the strength of the Church as those with extra abilities use their gifts as tools for the upbuilding of the Kingdom.
“How do you decide what to preach about?”
I generally plan topics anywhere from 1 to 3 months in advance (though this morning I was discussing topics for October…5 months out.) I usually think in terms of series rather than stand-alone messages (though I do those at times).
There are multiple factors that go into making that decision.
1. First, of course, I start with prayer. I seek to listen to what I sense the Lord is saying to me about what the congregation needs to hear. It is his church, and he knows what is they need.
2. Directional needs of the congregation. Do we need to recapture our passion for evangelism? Prayer? Serving the poor? Preaching can help catalyze the direction of the church.
A while ago I felt it was important our church have a clear sense of who Jesus is and kingdom values. So I started a series of messages through the book of Luke.
3. A balance between:
a. challenge and comfort – prophetic and pastoral.
b. series which are targeting at growing the believers with those designed to speak to unreached.
c. work through biblical books with free-standing topical themes.
4. Theme ideas can emerge from:
– Needs or questions or I hear repeatedly in casual conversations
– Truths that grip me in my own devotional time
– Issues arising from the culture
5. Standard recurring themes: there are some topics which need to be addressed regularly (though not necessarily each year): marriage, money, forgiveness, evangelism are a few. If I realize that it’s been a long time since we’ve addressed one of those, I will put it in the mix.
6. More and more I like to preach through books of the Bible, as they prompt me to speak on what I otherwise wouldn’t, and it gives people a chance to digest God’s agenda.
I have also started sharing the preaching plan with our executive staff and getting their input. It’s a great way to sharpen and improve my thinking.
Yesterday I spent the morning with a group of young UM pastors from around Western Pennsylvania. I shared with them about Crossroads’ vision and values, then a few learnings from the 28 years I’ve been a pastor.
Some of these I heard from others and found them true in my experience. Others I just discovered through trial and (mostly) error. Here they are:
1. Your first job is to be “fully-lit”
– fan the flame of love for God and others
– Can you say “Jesus is enough”
– avoid cynicism
Burn-out: watch all gauges: relational, emotional, physical, spiritual
Stress = trying to control the uncontrollable
2. Keep your Vision crystal clear
– is it from God?
– can I say it simply?
– am I acting on it daily?
3. Enforce the Values of the church and kingdom
4. Don’t adopt a model, but let DNA guide you
5. Church’s growth regulated by the pain tolerance of the sr. pastor.
6. Be committed to personal growth and be an satiable learner
7. Expect and handle criticism well
No matter what you do you will be criticized – if you are going to introduce change you will be criticized. Some people will communicate it badly, but:
a. learn what you can
b. get it for good reasons (moving ahead)
8. Remember you are in a Spiritual War
– recruit a prayer team
9. Learn to skillfully manage Change
10. ** Keep main thing the main thing: Love God and love people.
Steve Cordle is the founding and lead pastor of Crossroads Church, a small group-based congregation with five locations in the Pittsburgh metro area. He also leads a18movement, a non-profit dedicated catalyzing church plants globally. Steve is the author of two books: Hear it, See it, Risk it and The Church in Many Houses. He coaches pastors and church planters in the United States and Western Europe. He enjoys running, playing classical piano, and all Pittsburgh sports. Steve is a graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary (M. Div) and United Theological Seminary (D. Min). Steve and his wife, Linda, have three grown sons, three daughters-in-love, and three grandchildren.
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