How are you gifted? Wired? Called?

How are you gifted?  Wired?  Called?

WateringSome Christians are gifted as church planters. They are like Paul the Apostle. Converted to convert others. Led by God to start new churches. Paul spoke about this gifting when he wrote, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow” (1 Cor. 3:6).  God uses called and gifted servants to both plant new churches and water existing ones.  Do you have the apostolic calling of Paul?

As you consider this question, read 1 Cor. 3:5-9 and specifically ask, “What type of servant am I—a planter or a waterer?

What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task.  I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.  The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor.  For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.

As you reflect on this passage, realize that you are merely a servant.  Only God working through you makes things grow (vs. 6). This planter/waterer metaphor illustrates not only spiritual gifting, but more importantly, divine guidance and empowerment.  We are only “God’s fellow-workers . . . God’s field . . . God’s building” (vs. 9).  Ultimately the mission is God’s, and we are merely servants ministering in his vineyard.

Read 1 Cor. 3:10-15 about laying kingdom foundations.

By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it.  But each one should build with care.  For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.  If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw,their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.  If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

chiselWhat type of builder are you in the kingdom of God?   Are you like Paul—one who lays the “foundation” of the Gospel “as a wise builder”—or are you like Apollos, a minister building upon an existing foundation (vs. 10)?

The Lord’s work is not easy!  It is messy—as messy as people are.  Paul writes, “The fire will test the quality of each person’s work” (vs. 13).  How do God’s servants spiritually and strategically prepare themselves to lay new kingdom foundations of Jesus Christ (church planting) or to build upon these foundations (church renewal and growth)?  Are you willing to put your life in God’s hands and work in this messy world?

What type of material will you use to build the foundation of Jesus Christ?  Paul describes various materials used in the building—“gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw.”  What separates these elements?  The answer is that some are combustible and some are incombustible!

Since “the fire will test the quality of each person’s work,” some work will “survive” and some will be “burned up.” Foundations of gold, silver, costly stones will survive but those of wood, hay, and straw will be consumed.  How can we spiritually prepare ourselves for ministry in which some of God’s work will “survive” but some will also be “burned up”? Are you spiritually ready to experience loss?

Paul talks about ministering out of “God’s grace.” What does this mean? How do we minister out of God’s grace?

Paul called himself “a wise builder” (vs. 10). How did Paul—who once persecuted the church—become an expert builder? How does “God’s grace” work within us to form us into “expert builders”?

Answering these questions is a step in discerning how you are gifted, wired, and called.

For personal spiritual discernment contact us at Mission Alive at Contact@missionalive.org to connect and discuss a process of equipping. We would love to hear your journey and pray with you.

An Elevator Speech

Randy Harris and I recently held a Theology Lab at the Boerne church just north of San Antonio.   During this lab I facilitated discussion about the interrelated biblical themes of mission dei (the mission of God), the kingdom of God, and incarnation.   During the discussion of each Theology we also reflected on related Practices and First Steps in developing these practices.

Randy Harris led us in reflecting on the major tenets of the Christian faith beginning with “humanity” and concluding with a theology of “church” and the nature of spiritual formation.  It was a transformative lab of church leaders!

During our final debriefing, one elder asked, “How can we summarize the content of this lab so others in the church can grasp what we have learned?  What is our elevator speech?” Continue reading

From Theology to Practice

In a broad sense there are two types of Christian leaders:  Those who listen primarily to human voices and those who focus their hearts on listening to God.  The first try to navigate competing human preferences, expectations, and desires with the goal of satisfying everyone.  The second acknowledge that only God in his Holy Spirit can form us into his kingdom people.  The first seek answers below—in the world; the second above—in God.  That is the purpose of Mission Alive’s Theology Lab:  to teach Christian leaders to move from theology to practice by hearing the voice of God.  

For us, a theology of mission, like the rudder of a boat, guides the mission of God and provides direction.  My wife is fond of remembering how our children frequently wanted to “drive” when we took them on pedal-boats.  At times they were so intent on pedaling, making the boat move, that the rudder was held in an extreme position, and we went in circles.  Realizing their mistake, but still intent on pedaling, they would move the rudder from one extreme to the other so that we zig-zagged across the lake. When Christians operate without the foundation of a missional theology, their lives and ministries tend to zig-zag from fad to fad, from one theological perspective and related philosophies of ministry to another.  A theology of mission, like the rudder of a boat, provides practical direction for Christian ministry.  Continue reading