Summary: Part of a series focussing on the categories in the Natural Church Development tool

There is a new advert on the TV for a BT service plan and it shows a restaurant kitchen going to pieces with food not being prepared properly, shoddily cooked and scruffily presented; there is a fire on the hob that no one is dealing with and the voice over man says something like “do what you are good at and let us worry”, as we see Gordon Ramsey trying to unscrew a computer casing with a cooks knife.

That, in a simplistic form, is what gift oriented ministry is; doing what we are gifted for and letting God worry about the rest.

We heard 1 Corinthians 12 and it is a well known reading and it may be that we have heard it so many times that its meaning has been lost, but it is a reading that we have to take hold of. The Holy Spirit gives to each of us a gift and we are called to use that gift for the good of the body of Christ, not only by Paul in this reading but Peter also tells us in his first letter

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.

Thinking back to this mornings meeting, this command from Peter harks back to the two commandments that Jesus quoted in Mark 2; Love the Lord your God and your neighbour as yourself. The point of us being given Spiritual Gifts is to use them in the service of others. The point of Spiritual gifts is NOT to compare ourselves to others and think that we have been given the rotten end of the stick. There are some who have been given gifts that are more ‘out in the open’ and are more obvious; healing for example, exorcism; there are some that have more ‘behind the scenes’ gifts like administration or helping that are equally valid and equally necessary. If that is the case, Mike, why does Paul tell us to ‘eagerly desire the greater gifts’? The simple answer, that has come through my research, is that by doing this we are wanting to place ourselves more and more under God’s command and to be used by him. By wanting the ‘greater gifts’ we want God to have more and more of us. But not to the point of jealousy because others have what we want, or to depression because we may not feel as worthy. I dislike the term greater gifts because I do not believe that there is an actual order of gifting superiority, because when they are used in the right way, at the right time then God will bless what we do, whether that is healing someone or helping them through a difficult time.

On Friday I conducted a funeral of a gentleman who was not really that remarkable. He loved his family, friends and the work that he had done and still did. He was a Christian and the thing that came through was that he was always willing to help. If someone needed something fixing he would be there, if his grandchildren had a problem with maths, he would help them understand the theory of it, to the point that when he was across the other side of the world he would be sent a letter with a question and by return of post a thick brown envelope of information would be sent back. I would say that he had the gift of helps and he used that in his life to serve others. He had a screwdriver in the top pocket of his jacket that was always handy, even to the point of fixing shelving in shops! He knew what he was good at and he did it to the betterment of those around him and to his own fulfilment. We are told that the gifts we have been given are to be used for others and not kept to ourselves. This is ministry and it is something that every Christian is called to and expected to have an active role in. but the word ministry has taken on a negative image, why? God made us and knows about us, He knows what gets us excited and makes us tick; He knows what gives us a buzz and how we can be best used. We know this and yet we so often think that ministry has to be dry and such hard work! Why would God make us one way and expect us to fulfil His will in another. If we like talking to people and meeting new people and can tell them about what we do in a way they find engaging, wouldn’t it make sense that he gives that person the gift of evangelism? if someone else can see through to the heart of a problem and is able to explain things in a clear, concise way, wouldn’t it make sense for them to have been given the gift of wisdom? Ministry is about us serving God through serving others, it is about showing a different way of looking at life by using what we have been given by God to fulfil his will and purpose and one of the side effects of this is that we are fulfilled ourselves; that we enjoy our ministry because if we don’t enjoy it, how can we show a positive face to our faith?

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