Integrating Ministry & Marketplace: 2 Big Lies about Spiritual Gifts

So lately I’ve been pondering the divide between vocational and marketplace ministry, specifically its relationship to spiritual gifts.

‘Cause I’ll be honest: I don’t get the chasm…the compartmentalization among these facets.

I mean…it’s not like the seven spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12) were ever meant to be exclusive to pastoral leaders or limited to “inside church use” only. Certainly the church would have the common sense to teach/preach the seven motivational gifts (the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit) as gifts designed for everyone to apply anywhere…right?

*Crickets*                                                                                                                                                *Crickets*

Oh snap, did I just stumble into a white elephant?

Eh, maybe I did. But still…this needs to be talked about. After all, if we desire to be the opposite of what Paul warned about in 1 Corinthians 12:1 (i.e. misinformed), it only makes sense to buckle up and dive into the issue.

But before we do, permit me to provide some context.

In my experience, the abuse of ‘spiritual gift teaching’ falls into two primary camps:

  1. The notion that spiritual gift development can only happen in the church.
  2. The notion that spiritual gift application can only happen in the church.

Granted, I know there are more categories, but for now, we’ll narrow our focus on these two criteria in hope to debunk some faulty doctrine.

Lie 1: Spiritual gift development can only happen in the church.

I’m not sure how this deception started, but no question, the legalistic undertones are evident considering it assumes a) life should be nothing more than the work of the ministry1, b) business matters are inherently evil because man is inherently evil, and c) the marketplace is a byproduct of the fall; however, when we look at Adam/Eve’s original design, we find the marketplace and the establishment of institutional order to be a byproduct of creation. After all, when God created man, He also created his role…and considered it good (Genesis 1:26-31)

Thus, it’s important to note how the garden was just as much marketplace as it was ministry…and why it’s dangerous to compare and contrast ministry and marketplace as segregated entities. ‘Cause truth is: we may experience spiritual gift activation in the church; however, this doesn’t mean development can’t happen outside it given God is a God of grace, has the loving power to ignite one’s heart anytime, anywhere, and intended pursuing love and earnestly desiring spiritual gifts to go hand in hand (1 Corinthians 14:1).

Bottom line: The reality of love and the truth of creation give credence to spiritual gift development happening anywhere, not just the church.

Lie 2: Spiritual gift application can only happen in the church.

Dare I say it…this one may be even more baffling than the first. Again, the church was meant to equip and mobilize, not centralize and maintain. So why anyone would think the church was designed to be an entertainment hub as opposed to a stewarding/dispersion center is beyond me, especially when you consider the purpose of church is to worship God through word and prayer, to love one another, partake of baptism and the Lord’s Supper…and oh, yeah…go therefore and make [disciple-makers] (Acts 2:42).

Yes, learning how to apply and mature our spiritual gifts in a koinonia (Greek for fellowship, sharing in common) setting is essential; however, if such demonstration is limited to “in-house”, can we honestly say the our faith is reaching where it needs to?

Bottom line: Spiritual gifts are meant to be shared as salt and light with the world, not stashed as inventory in the secret basements of what we call church. Thus, if what we believe reduces spiritual gifts to an iPhone and church as a charging port, I strongly encourage you: shift your paradigm…and dare to apply/extend what you experience in church to other places of influence.

Looking ahead to next month, expect a more intimate dig into what pastoral ministry in the marketplace looks like (with a more defined emphasis on how to rightfully use spiritual gifts in our areas of business)…with a subsequent series on what marketplace ministry looks like in the church later on.

For now, if any of this content resonates, feel free to comment below. And as always, if you have a prayer request/praise report, there’s a place for that on His Girl Fryday.

Blessings on your week,

~ Cameron

Footnotes

1) More specifically…”ministry as ministry”

Photo creds: Shutterstock (edited by Cameron Fry)ly

Hold on to Your Why (Part 1)

We now know we have a why…an internal motivation that gives our ministry meaning. This why serves as our anchor when we are faced with the inevitable desire to quit, throw up walls or just go into auto-pilot. To often, that why gets lost in the urgent, monotonous or discouraging things we encounter as we serve. How can we keep our why front and center when all the white noise is looking to push it to the sideline?

Over the next couple of posts, we will take a practical look at some things we can do to elevate and re-embrace our why.

First, Identify your why.

Hold up-don’t we know our why? I can’t start on that assumption. Personal experience has shown me that when discouragement hits, I often have to rediscover why. Why am I serving even though no one seems to care? Why am I investing in people when no one is investing into me? Why am I putting in hours (that, let’s be honest, we don’t really have) only to have no one show up? If we are asking why questions, chances are we need to go back to the beginning and reunite with our why. How do we do that? Take those same why questions and instead of asking them in a reactionary way, ask them in the future tense. “Why would I be willing to serve even if no one cares?” “Why do I want to invest, even if no one is investing in me”?, etc.

For many of us, the answer is: People. For those called to ministry, it is liking having a beating piece of God’s heart deposited in yours. We want to see people know Jesus. We want to see them walking in victory and in the fullness that God has planned for them. We want to see a God centered community formed that then impacts the city around us and glorifies God.

I would be remiss if I didn’t include the contrary. If you why isn’t centered on service and glorifying God, it may not be a why that will keep you going. I can say that I want to change my eating habits to look good. But that motivation, that why, may not be enough for me to withstand the immediate gratification associated with a yummy bowl of ice cream. My why has to be bigger than me. As a mom, if I say I’m going to change my eating because I want to make sure my son grows up with healthy habits-bam, I have a why bigger than me.

Ministry was never meant to be about me. I have found personally, if my why has become askew, my what and how become labored and trying.

So, for this week-identify your why. If it is off, realign it and start fresh.

Next Week: Why be accountable?

Have you experienced a why that was off? Share in the comments. Let’s learn from one another. 🙂

Photo creds: paulmadson.com

3 Ways to Cultivate a Reproducible Ministry

When it comes to the bivocational life, no question, leaving a legacy (heck, just staying the course) is hard work. I know for me, finding time, energy, even resources…can quickly become challenging tasks when life seems to bottle up in any one area. With that said, I also know when we center our attention and effort on cultivating a reproducible ministry, we ultimately discover the mindset, heart, and tools necessary to be maximally faithful in our respective realms.

So while the topic of “reproducible ministry” may seem like a daunting topic to some, by embracing these three basic points, you’ll find achieving the dream by and through God is completely possible.

1) Spread the “wealth” – No, I’m not talking about financial delegation; rather, I’m talking about sharing leadership opportunities with the rest of the body.

I know, I know…that’s blasphemy, right? *Sarcasm*

Well, as sad as it may seem, there are still quite a few ministers who abide by the archaic notion that preaching and teaching is a one-man, uni-directional gig; however, when we look at what effective Kingdom-centered, missionally-minded ministry looks like, we find the common denominator lies not in sustainability, but in reproducibility. As Pastor Jim Harris, Discipleship Pastor at Grace Chapel, once said about cultivating a thriving, disciple-making culture, “What we do needs to be reproducible. If it’s too complicated, then it’s not mission-minded.”

In other words, a healthy ministry isn’t obtained through showmanship; it’s accomplished through partnership…and the fostering of an environment where God can ‘water’ the saints in their 1 Corinthians 12 anointing. See the difference?

So if you’re hitting a wall in the area, ask yourself, ‘Am I trying to sustain results by an over-concentration of my spiritual giftings or am I looking to help others retain and reproduce truth?

‘Cause truth is: God gave everyone different gifts for a reason. I know for church leaders we tend to assume the church is a customized stage, but once we realize it’s actually a distribution center designed for all people to discover their identity and calling in Christ, our place of influence will sync up to a place of power as well.

My advice: ask the Lord to purify your motives…and to grow your fearlessness in connecting with people. Trust me: I know it can be easy to hide behind the podium; however, if you truly want to reach people, then you must commit to meeting them where they’re at so they can better see the kind of life they’re meant to live. That’s what reproducibility is all about.

2) Simplify the process – While this may seem painfully rudimentary, for a ministry to be reproducible, it’s fair to say it must be…remember-able (or re-memorable), right?

Unfortunately, I find many who think sound teaching is directly proportional to how “deep” and sacerdotal the content is. Yet, when we look at Jesus’ approach in his ministry, we find him using familiar language and relatable illustrations to drive home his points. In other words, Jesus didn’t aim his words over people’s heads; instead, he targeted their hearts for the sake of life change. So when I say “simplify the process”, what I’m really talking about is doing whatever we can to enable our word and effort to take root …whether we’re teaching people how to pick up their cross, follow Jesus, and fish for men…or using specialized planning apps like Evernote/Evernote web clipper/Penultimate/Logos Bible in tandem to better content construction.

My advice: integrate point #1 into point #2 (i.e. speak less, share more, and “partner” everything). You’ll find the more you do so, the more you’ll develop into the koinonia leader1 you were called to be.

3) Stir the rising generation – While I could write many a post talking about following Christ and what real change looks like, it’s all moot if we neglect the fact that mission assumes “3” 2 (i.e. to the third generation) and daily testifies the Gospel. Again, if we’re more concerned about our own flavor and style (as if you could put a patent on it), then we’re not going to come close to inspiring the emerging generation; if anything, the rising youth of our nation are sharp enough to smell inauthenticity a mile away. Yet, if we want to leave a reproducible legacy, then it’s imperative we view and live discipleship as God sees it and how Jesus executed it.

My advice: integrate point #2 into point #3 by allowing God do His part in wooing people to His heart and by being 100% responsible for the role He’s given you (i.e. surrendering, obeying, yielding…prepping in advance…preaching through books/genres of the Bible often, etc.3) You’ll find as long as you consecrate your focus  on empowering young people to speak the truth in love in the way God has you, He’ll make fruitful your effort.

Footnotes

  1. Thanks to Marty Duren for this point’s inspiration
  2. Shout-out once again to Jim Harris
  3. Case and point: our youth group is going studying the parables through the storytelling method)

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