One of the things that many churches struggle with is releasing members to serve with the gifts that God has given them.
The vision of the New Testament of a body, wonderfully and differently gifted by the Holy Spirit for the common good, means that a key part of church leadership entails helping people know and use their gifts for the spread of the Kingdom and the glory of God. And most pastors I know are deeply committed to that.
But it’s elusive. Often it proves very difficult to make it happen.
I’m sure there are all sorts of reasons for that.
But one that I have been reflecting on recently is this: I wonder if it might have something to do with having a limited vision of the Christian life.
What I mean is this: if the vision of living for Christ is essentially of private life - personal devotion, spiritual practices and godliness, family life and church involvement - then the kinds of opportunities for ministry will revolve around those arenas. And they can be fairly limited, at least from a structural or formal level - seen, for example, in the way that Sunday rosters and small group leadership, along with children’s and youth ministry roles can become the extent of a vision for ministry.
But when the vision of the Christian life is for public life as well - the whole arena of Christ’s Lordship over “every square inch” of this world (as Abraham Kuyper put it), then suddenly the opportunities for ministry and service are endless. A big vision like that will inspire a big ministry passion. And the role of the pastor will be to paint the picture of that vision, and then encourage and support people in it - along with the rosters, and church groups ministries.
City to City is committed to a theological vision which embodies both public and private life as core to discipleship to Christ, and gives expression to the public aspect of that in the Australian Centre for Faith and Work. We are in the early stages of putting together a conference that will explore these issues in November this year, and look forward to making more details available soon.
Warmly in Christ,