Summary: One of the ways we get in “shape” for God is as the Spirit transforms us as we discover and utilize our spiritual gifts for our place “on the team.”
At a recent “Y” league basketball practice one of the boys’ coaches began to ask them questions about the game. “What is offense?” “What is defense?” And he explained what it means to be on defense and what it means to be on offense.
Then he assigned positions. To some he assigned the position of forward. To other kids he assigned them the position of guard. And to one kid he assigned the position of center. And then he began to teach them how to play that position both offensively and defensively.
Some of us know the joy, and agony, of giving it all through tryouts for either a team, a band, choir, or something else. And we wait for the moment when either we read our name on a list or hear it read aloud. And when we make it then we know that we will be assigned a position on the team or play in a certain instrument section in the band or be paid to perform a certain job on the line.
Now, we always realize that we may not get chosen or hired or selected. But, sooner or later we find ourselves as part of a group – a team, band, job, or family and we gain a place in that group. The same holds true in the church. The Lord has a place, an assignment for each of us, as we rightly relate to Him by faith through Christ.
We have been talking about getting in shape for God the past two weeks as we do the following: (Overhead 1)
1. As we believe, accept and live out that we are God’s masterpiece
2. As we learn to serve and be a servant to others
3. As we discover and utilize our spiritual gifts.
This morning we are going to focus on the third point, discovering and utilizing our spiritual gifts because one of the ways that we get in shape for God is finding our place on His team, the church. Each one of us has a place on the team no one is excluded.
Now, I know that I have preached on this every year since I have come to Kendallville. Let me tell you why. I believe that a church whose members earnestly commit to and live out a personal relationship with Christ, and then earnestly seek to discover their place of ministry and service that God has both gifted them for and called them to, is becoming a growing and healthy church that will make a difference in people’s lives.
Such a church will be used by God in some powerful ways because its members, not just its pastor, but its members, will be ready, willing, and able to serve in ways that they have been gifted and called to serve. And I believe that this is the kind of church that God wants this church to become. It is a church of servants who discover, accept, and then do what God has called them to do.
In our main text, I Corinthians 12:4-7, we are given some very basic and important information on spiritual gifts that is basic to finding our place on the team. Let’s read the text again:
“Now there are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but it is the same Holy Spirit who is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service in the church, but it is the same Lord we are serving. There are different ways God works in our lives, but it is the same God who does the work through all of us. A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church.”
First and foremost we need to remember the final statement of this segment: “A spiritual gift is a given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church.” From the get-go our giftedness is to be used to serve the church; not to rule it or run it or control it but to serve it and to help it.
As we get in shape for God we use the gifts and abilities that God has given to us to help the church grow, to help the church reach out, and to help the church fulfill the purpose that God has given to it. It is a transformational experience. It changes us and it changes others around us.
We are transformed from mere by-standers into active participants in the ministry and mission of the church. We are transformed from being “takers” to being “givers.”
I have often heard over the years from many people that when they have moved from “merely attending” into “ministry,” be it a classroom or VBS assignment or membership on a committee or board (or team) they have grown so much in their spiritual maturity and understandings. That’s what serving does for you. God becomes more real and alive. We partner with Him as we serve and help others to come to faith and grow like we have.