Church Involvement

Category: Giftedness

Making Your Gift PRIME

How would you go about bringing your spiritual gift to its prime effectiveness and usefulness?

PRACTICE THE GIFT.    You either use it or lose it.   You either use it or you will never use it well.    Nothing replaces experience which comes from exercising and using your gift.   Paul told Timothy not to neglect the gift in him.   There was a good reason he said this.    Use it and use it in a variety of ways; this may take some experimentation.   Every passage that lists a gift or gifts tells us to “exercise” it or “use” it.   I guess this means that exercising your gift is imperative. Practice, practice and then practice some more.

REPEAT THE GOOD RESULTS OF THE USE OF YOUR GIFT.    In the process of using your gift, you will have successes and failures.   You can learn from both.    You can continue to build on your successes and you can learn from your failures (what not to do or how not to do it).   When you are criticized or questioned, you can learn from others if you listen to them.   Wise people listen to criticism and learn.   Having a spiritual gift does not exempt you from making mistakes.    Mistakes, responded to properly, can promote growth.   And, repeat your successes.

INVESTIGATE HOW OTHERS USE IT.    You can learn from others especially those who have the same gift.   Watch them as they use their gift and ask questions.   Follow people of all ages, not just people of your own age.   Generally speaking, older members (by number of years and maturity in Christ) are good to spend time with and learn from.  You can find out who has your gift by using the database of a congregation that uses spiritual gift inventories and catalogues the results.    Do some ‘digging’ and learn from others.

MATURITY.    As you mature in Christ, you will also mature in the use of your gift.  You will become more effective and your opportunities to use the gift will increase.   Some of this maturity may come as a result of time, but time alone matures no one.  You will need to focus on becoming more and more like Christ.

EDUCATE YOURSELF WITH GOOD RESOURCES ABOUT THE GIFT.    Expose yourself to good books, lectureships, events, conferences, DVDs, materials and stories about the use of gifts.   Read, and read, then read some more.   Spend money, time and energy learning from others who have your exact gift.   You can also learn from folks that have gifts other than the one you have.   Observe them.   Ask them questions.   See their counsel.

I hope these have been helpful.   If you can think of others, please share them with me and I’ll pass them on to others.


Gifts in Action…

Seven Christians are sitting around a table at a church banquet to honor an elder and his wife for their long tenure of service to the church, when one of the dear older sisters, walking by the table with a plate of food, a dessert, and a glass of sweet tea, stumbles. As the woman falls to the ground, the tea and the food fly through the air onto the elder and his wife, and the woman bursts into tears before everyone

  • P – Immediately the prophet speaks the truth that she should not have been carrying two plates and the tea at the same time, and that someone should have helped her see this and helped her. (Motivation: to correct.)
  • M – The gifted mercy- shower drops to one knee, holds on to the hand of the woman, and says, “Are you hurt? Don’t worry about it. I knocked over a punch bowl once.” (Motivation: How can I relieve her pain and embarrassment?)
  • E – The person with the gift of exhortation says to the woman, ”Are you able to stand up? Let me help you.” (Motivation: to come alongside and encourage.)
  • L – The leader goes to the microphone and says, “Bob, would you get some towels? Barbara, would you please bring our dear sister another plate of food and some chocolate cream pie? And Jane, could we get a new tablecloth for this table as soon as possible? Thank you, Joe for helping her up. Folks, we’ll be ready to go in just a few minutes. Thank you everyone.” (Motivation: to lay out a reasonable plan and follow through with it for the good of the whole.)
  • S – The servant receives the towels from Bob, cleans up the couple and the floor, and helps put another tablecloth on the table. (Motivation: to fulfill a need.)
  • T – Sitting on the other side of the table is the teacher, who makes an absolute observation, “Actually this isn’t what it appears. Rather, the kind of heels our dear sister was wearing catches on the residential-grade carpet and causes stumbling to occur. We need industrial carpet. Do you all understand that?” (Motivation: to discover why it happened and make sure all know about it.)
  • G – The giver, seeing the tea stained jacket on the elder, says, “Brother, we still want you to say a few words, so here’s my jacket.” And hearing the reasoning of the teacher, says, “We’ve needed to replace this carpet for a while anyway; why don’t I just make sure the money is here to pay for it?” (Motivation: give to relieve a need.)
  • Original author:  Chip Ingram

Matt Thomas

Pickerington, OH

Matt Thomas has done a great deal of research in spiritual gifts and has spoken at the 2nd annual CIC and will be speaking again in 2019.

Responsible Gift Use

Responsible Gift Use

Every American is gifted with freedoms:  freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of movement, freedom of choice, etc.  However, not all Americans use their freedoms responsibly.   Take for example, freedom of speech.   It has been abused and perverted by irreverent irresponsible citizens who use filthy language and pornography and call such freedom of speech/expression.    Freedoms must be used responsibly.

The Corinthian Christians were irresponsible with their miraculous spiritual gifts.  It appears their gifts were “all about them” versus being “all about God.”   They (the Christians) became the center of attention and brought about confusion and jealousy instead of glorifying the Lord and producing faith.

When it comes to our non-miraculous spiritual gifts today, Christians must use them responsibly.   Please allow me to illustrate:

The one with the gift of mercy showing/compassion must use this gift responsibly.  Used incorrectly would be to use it to enable poor behavior in those we are attempting to help.   Responsible use does more than ‘help,’ it enables proper behavior, choices and growth.

The one with the gift of prophecy must use this gift not as a means to blow off steam or vent anger.   Used responsibly is to inform and warn people of impending negative consequences of poor behavior and to call people to repentance.   The intent is pure and holy.

The gift of teaching is used responsibly when the teacher studies well and presents lovingly.   This gift is not used to show one’s great knowledge but to point men, women and children to the Lord.   Lack of study and preparation are also examples of irresponsible use of this gift.

The gift of giving can be used irresponsibly when the giver doesn’t use discretion and wisdom, when he/she gives blindly to unworthy causes or gives to bring attention to him/herself.  Responsible giving is done to promote Christian evangelism and spiritual growth.

The gift of service is used irresponsibly when it is for show or to bring attention to oneself.  Responsible service promotes and enables the cause of Christ to progress smoothly.

The gift of leadership/administration is misused when leaders lord over people and use their position for advancing personal agendas and control.  Responsible use leads people to spiritual growth and welfare.

The gift of exhortation can be used irresponsibly by using weak means to encourage.  The best means of exhorting folks is God’s Word and spiritual counsel.

Used responsibly it puts courage back into people and supports the discouraged.

The gift of evangelism is used irresponsibly when the whole counsel of God is not taught and when false doctrine is propagated.   Responsible use is preaching the truth in love to a lost and dying world.   It is sharing the gospel with courage and without fear.

The gift of hospitality is used responsibly when we open our hearts and homes to the stranger.  We help folks feel comfortable and accepted and loved.   Irresponsible use would be when we do not use the gift or we use it partially, being hospitable only to those we know and like.

The gift of pastor/shepherding is used responsibly when those with the gift nurture, train, mentor, teach, guide, lead, protect, and shepherd the saved in the church.   It is abused when it is NOT used and when it is used partially and inconsistently.

We all may fail to use our gifts responsibly when we fail to use them, and when we do not develop them for more effective use and when our motives are not pure and holy.

May we all come to know what our spiritual gift is and use it responsibly and fully to His honor and glory and to the salvation of souls.


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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