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

5 Ways to Conquer Sermon Prep Stress

Sermon prep for the bivocational pastor can be a challenging issue. From selecting the right topic to developing ideas in the midst of unrelated work, crafting a sermon requires forward thinking and resolute diligence. Whether you’re a novice bivocational pastor or a seasoned veteran, here are some ways I’ve learned to conquer sermon prep stress.

  1. Pray at all costs

It’s been said no man is greater than his prayer life. Considering prayer, quiet time, and sermon prep are mutually inclusive, one could also deduce how no pastor is greater than his sermon prep. Of course, ideas come and go and the needs of people change; however, the one thing that must never waver is the commitment to pray (for revelation, the people of your congregation, etc.) at all costs. preachingpyramid-1024x777

To put it another way, the foundation of any teaching must always begin with prayer since it allows God to be the driver as opposed to our own finitude. So whether you’re discouraged or simply have sermon writer’s block, pray through the grind and position yourself for illumination by carving out closet time between you and God. Oh, and while you’re at is, don’t forget to bring a note/iPad so you can jot down what God tells you for future reference (which reminds me…go see “War Room” when you have the chance; such a powerful film…you won’t regret it) .

  1. Look ahead

I’m a fan of living in the now; however, with sermon prep, looking ahead isn’t just a good idea; it’s absolutely necessary. For instance, there are times when God will unveil a sermon series to you, as opposed to a stopgap message. When this happens, there are two appropriate responses: 1) rejoicing and 2) projecting (i.e. looking ahead). Not to suggest a la carte messages are inferior; I’m just saying when you’re given a sermon series, it’s critical to a) let the Word/assignment marinate in your spirit so it can be processed and b) look ahead so it can be divvied up systematically.

  1. Take advantage of breaks

At my job, there are two types of seasons: busy seasons and “less busy” seasons. During “less busy” seasons, my workload will occasionally stall to the point I’m able to reference my youth pastor worklist (or my wife 😉 and chisel it down so I can direct my focus on other things (like this blog).

Granted, productivity can still happen during busy seasons; it just means anticipation must be met with greater intentionality. Case in point: during year-end closeout season (one of the busiest for accountants), I know at the very least, I have two fifteen-minute breaks and an hour lunch. This means regardless of how busy work gets, I can take advantage of 7.5 hours of potential prep time.

Of course, we all find ourselves in different boats on different waters in different seasons; however, the point here is: if you seek the opportune moment, you will surely find it (Matthew 7:7-8; Luke 11:9; Jeremiah 29:13).

  1. Flesh out the content

Some of my greatest pastoral mentors are known to manuscript their sermons. While I certainly understand the benefit of such an approach, I also know it can be more practical for some to develop a detailed “five point-ish” outline, with a clear-cut introduction and conclusion. Whatever method you use, make sure the content is fleshed out. By this, I mean a message with a coherent outline and an organic flow sprinkled with some applicable illustrations to help the audience track with the truth1.

  1. Develop a routine

Preaching is just as much week-by-week rhythm as it is in-the-moment delivery. While congregations and experiences vary, the common denominator for rotation speakers lies in developing a steady routine tailored to what works best for them. For me, I like devoting select days to content development/study and others to revision and delivery. Of course, each week is unique with the potential to go off-script. Yet, while those weeks can be unnerving, they don’t have to be as long as I reference an establish accountability system or development checklist. Doing so will not only sharpen the content, but enhance confidence leading up to the sermon date.

Perhaps you’ve discovered some other helpful tidbits aiding you in your sermon prep. If so, feel free to share them in the comment section below.

Footnotes

  1. I believe the most memorable sermons feature applicable illustrations. For me, if a powerful truth is presented without an analogy/work picture attached (or without it amplified on a big screen for me to read à tweet), it can sometimes go in one ear, out the other; however, as a youth minister, I’ve learned the value in bolding the truth by associated it to something presentable. At any rate, the goal is not to entertain and/or convince the audience of the truth’s relevance (i.e. let God do His job) as much as it is giving them a greater chance to remember it in the first place.

Photo credits: thefrontporch.org, preachersinstitute.com