Church Involvement

Creating a Culture of Involvement in Every Church

Category: Giftedness

Untapped Resources

untapped1When younger I was always hearing about all the untapped resources we Americans had.   Even fifty years later the petroleum industry is still telling us of untapped oil in shale.   We are now learning more about new sources of energy which come (free) from the sun, the wind and yes, the waves.   We are beginning to tap into these resources and the potential is unlimited.

When I think of the Lord’s church, I think of the many untapped resources we have.   Why do they remain untapped?   There are several resources that are not fully utilized.   Why don’t we use them?   Which ones?   I can think of at least 3:

The Lord.    We often quote Philippians 4:13 and I think that is great.   But what about Ephesians 3:20-21?   Do we really believe those verses or do we like to just quote them because they sound good?  The Lord is our power source for doing the impossible.    Are we tapping into His power through prayer (cf. Eph.6:18).    Too often we talk about Him and then we don’t ‘tap’ into Him.

The Gospel.    Romans 1:16.   The gospel is God’s dynamic.   It transforms the worst of the worst.   It changes people, communities, churches and nations.     We need to draw on its power every day from morning to noon to evening and then again the next day.    We need to ‘tap’ into it by studying it, teaching it, preaching it, defending it and living it 24/7.

The People.    Romans 12:3 says that we ought not think too highly of ourselves.  Simply put, we need to look realistically at ourselves.   What is a realistic view of the people who make up the body of Christ? Briefly, the Bible says we were created in God’s image but we fell into sin.  However, we are saved sinners by the grace of God.   But there is more—much more.  We are indwelled by God’s Spirit.   Also, we are God’s workmanship to do good works and we are empowered to do such because we are gifted.   How so? We have non-miraculous gifts (Rom.12:4-8; 1 Pet.4:10; Eph.4:11), we are gifted with life experiences and skills and the grace of God.    And in most churches (with which I am familiar) these gifts, and the people who possess them, are not ‘tapped.’   Idle gifts are useless.  Untapped gifts are useless.   They are seldom used fully for the glory of God, the good of the church and the good of the community in which the church resides.

Is it laziness or ignorance that allows these great resources to go untapped?   Before I die I want to encourage every church to tap into the gift resources that are presently within them—and put them to work (exercise them).    Surely, the Lord has greater plans for His kingdom. Every member of the local church should be serving in some manner in the local church ‘tapping’ fully into the resources the Lord has provided him/her.

Travis Irwin,  Athens, TN







Fearfully & Wonderfully Made

eye2Fearfully & Wonderfully Made

I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. (Psalm 139:14 NASB)

Dr. Jim Patterson is a dear friend and my former optometrist in Ashland, Ohio.

After every eye examination he would either give me good news (my eyes were healthy) or bad news (I’m getting older and I need bifocals).   He would always show me a chart of an eye and explain everything in detail.   I appreciated Jim’s great care but I was even more impressed with the chart of a human eye.   It was colorful and very complicated.   Obviously, the human eye has design and purpose; it is not an accident.   It is amazing and the human eye shouts, “God!”

Take any other part of the human body: the respiratory system, the circulatory system, the brain, the digestive system, the reproduction system and the hands, feet, arms and legs and you are impressed with each.   We are fearfully and wonderfully made.   Such things stop me in my tracks and my mouth automatically opens with praise to the Creator.

We usually emphasize only the physical aspects of ourselves when we quote this lofty verse.   We must also remember that He created us with a personality, emotions, intelligence and the desire to love and be loved.   At our rebirth, He gifts us with a spiritual gift, He inserts passion to serve and then He also gives us skills and allows us to live long enough to experience life.

I am physical, but I am also spiritual, emotional and intellectual—all by God’s purpose and design.   As an involvement minister I see how God has designed folks for service.   I am just as amazed and awe struck with God’s creative work in this area as I am with His creative work in the physical.   My mouth opens up again with praise.

As members of God’s family, you are fearfully and wonderfully made by Him for HIS purpose (Colossians 1:16).   I would like to think you would want to know as much about the way He has created you (not just physically but also in the other ways mentioned herein) so you could serve Him more fully.

I strongly recommend that every Christian do the available inventories to learn how God has created him/her for service.   You and I bring glory to Him best by being living sacrifices in the physical body in which we live (Romans 12:1-2).   I suggest to you that as we allow ALL of our very being (our physical, spiritual, emotional, intellectual selves) to serve Him and others, it is then He is glorified and it is then that we begin to fully understand Psalm 139:14.


Overgeneralizations & Ministry

Individuality Overgeneralizations & Ministry

When we speak of over generalizations, we are usually referring to things related to bigotry and racism (e.g. all of a certain race, nation, people are such and such).   This is NOT what I wish to discuss here.   Then what am I addressing?

Sometimes when attempting to get people into ministry, we categorize them as young/old, male/female, gifted/not gifted, passionate/impassionate, or interested/not interested.   But there is a greater danger:  overgeneralizing their gifts, passions, personality types, life skills and life experiences.    In other words, we prejudge what we think they are and what they can or cannot do based upon our overgeneralizations.   We leave out the most important ingredient:   listening to them and understanding their individuality.   I will make 4 suggestions below to prevent overgeneralization in the church.

Be Conscious of It

Take nothing for granted—even YOU can over generalize.   From time to time, you may want to ask yourself, “am I pigeon-holing this person?” or “am I looking for the uniqueness of this person?”    For example, a person who has the gift of teaching may not want to teach children.   Yes, this person has the gift, but if he/she doesn’t want to teach children, we’d better know that.   Don’t jump to any conclusions based upon general definitions of gifts, passions, life skills, or our preconceived ideas.

God Treats Us as Individuals and We Should Treat Each Other This Way

We are members of one another and individual members (Romans 12:5 NASB).   The church is a group of born again believers; we usually emphasize the unity of the church and the oneness of the church.   However, God also recognizes individual church members and He has gifted each one differently.    No two of us are the same.   Each is vital to the well-being of the church.   One day we will each stand before God as individuals (Rom.14:12) for how we lived and served as individuals.    Our individuality should contribute to the welfare of the body.

While we ought to have a deep appreciation of the wholeness of the body of Christ, we mustn’t forget the importance of the individual in the church and his/her unique contribution to the church.   While we ought to be concerned about the welfare of the whole body, we must not overlook how individuals uniquely contribute to the welfare of the whole.

Inventories, When Used Properly, Prevent It

Inventories and assessments are very helpful.   Used improperly you will miss out on the uniqueness of individual church members and you may appoint them to ministries for which they are not gifted or impassioned.   Properly used, inventories/assessments can be a blessing to individual Christians and to the entire church.    People will learn some wonderful things about themselves and church ministries will benefit greatly.   Inventories, used properly, emphasize a person’s uniqueness.    Remember, this is all by God’s design and it is for His glory.

Coaching Enhances the Individual

What is coaching?    It’s kind of like mentoring and counseling.   A good coach will interview a person and look through his/her inventories and make suggestions, ask questions, answer questions and explain items.    The overall purpose of coaching is to show an individual just how unique he/she is and how God has designed him/her for ministry.  The ultimate goal is to help someone see how he/she can best serve (based upon how he/she is designed by God).  A good coach may be able to show an individual what God’s specific purpose is for his/her life or at least guide him/her through the process.   Good coaches also know that not all church ministries fit the people he coaches.    Sometimes, a special or new ministry is born because a good coach recognizes the uniqueness of an individual that he is coaching.

Use any diagnostic tool carefully and with the individual person in mind.   You will be pleased to see the result,  the person involved will get excited and the church will benefit greatly for years and into eternity.


You Are Gifted

giftsYou Are Gifted

You’ve heard of ‘gifted’ children and you’ve heard of folks who have been given large ‘gifts’ of money.   Most of us think everyone else is gifted, but us.   Wrong!   Every child of God is a ‘gifted child’ and I’m not just referring to the gift of Jesus.

The gifts are mentioned in several places in the New Testament (Rom.12; 1 Cor.12; Eph.4; 1 Peter 4).   Some of these gifts were miraculous and temporary and others are still around today.   Those around today are permanent and we enjoy them in the church today.   Consider 5 principles about these spiritual gifts:

The Principle of Balanced Thinking

The Corinthian brethren had a “pride issue” with their gifts that in turn caused a great deal of turmoil in the church there.   Rom.12:3 says we ought not to think more highly of ourselves than we should.   We must remember that our spiritual gift(s) is/are from God. Balanced thinking is realizing we have no room to boast.

The Principle of “Universal” Giftedness

Every Christian has a gift. No one is left out. There are no exceptions. No one can say, “I don’t have a gift.”   That is a lie; we all have at least one spiritual gift.

The Principle of Diversity that Contributes to Unity

No two Christians are alike.   However, this diversity, when handled God’s way, contributes to the unity of the church.   It actually makes the church stronger and able to do more for His glory.

The Principle of Interdependence

No individual Christian can say, “I don’t need you” or “I’m not important.” We are in need of each other which means that each of us is important and vital to the welfare of the whole.

The Principle of the Common Good

We are not gifted for our personal good or for a small portion of the body. When we exercise our gifts properly, the whole church is blessed.


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