Super Hero Training Part 2

Last week we looked at some of the basic super powers God has given every believer. This is the default setting for all believers, yet to each church God gives special gifts to accomplish His Capttask and purpose (Eph 4:12). Sort of like the Avengers team, these gifts must all be used in the proper order. Hulk is good at smashing, Captain America is good at leading and to reverse these roles or trade gifts would be disastrous.

This team principle is exactly what happened in Acts 6:1-6. The Apostles were truly gifted at studying, preaching, and praying, but there were some serious physical needs in the church. So God brought up some men with “super powers” specific to the need of the church.

When our A-Team runs into problems is when we start working in areas that we have no super powers (Hulk starts thinking). We continually look at people through the lens of our own super power. “If they were spiritual they would teach a Sunday school class like me…. If they cared about church they would have people over more often….” And we forget that some have the gift of teaching while others the gift of hospitality.

That which upsets us most in our relationships is probably someone else’s gift shining through.

Another aspect that often happens in churches is the gift of God is never exercised (I Tim 1:6). If your gift is not used, it is impossible to stay attentive at church, and you will get restless and eventually frustrate others. Think about it, if God sent you to a church according to Ephesians 4:11-16 you are there to serve the A-Team. Anything else but service, is selfishness and the whole team suffers.

The team will suffer in many ways. First they will not have your specific talent, so either the important task will go undone or someone who is not qualified or gifted will have to fill your place, both are disastrous.

Secondly, you will start getting restless.  The Spirit that indwells you and gifts you will let you know that you are squandering His gifts.  There will be no peace for a believer that refuses to submit and serve (Eph 5:18, Phil 4:7).

As restlessness steps in, the very next step will be a spirit of criticism and disunity.  Instead of seeing the benefit of playing together, we will expect everyone to “pass us the ball.”  We become individuals instead of a team as we seek confirmation for our own abilities and perspective.

Finally, if the gift is not exercised, we will feel lost and out of place.  Instead of putting on our work boots and seeing the skills and talents we all posses, we will live in isolation.  Soon we will feel like nobody understands us, and find a need to justify our lack of service.

The worst side effect of isolation is that we cut ourselves off from the gifts of the body designed by God to help us grow, and doom ourselves to immaturity.

God has given us all gifts and talents and expects them to be used for Him and His glory.

So to make it personal, what tasks could you do at your specific local church?  What special talents do you have?  How could they meet the needs of your A-Team?

What Happened to My Church?

Awkward

Did you ever think you would feel awkward at church? Very few things surprise the college student more than leaving for college with dozens of cards and hundreds of dollars from church members, and then returning and feeling awkward at church. There are some easy ways to relieve that awkwardity at church.

First, engage. Get involved. Find a ministry that needs help and fill it. Ask the leadership about helping out in kids or youth ministries. Invest in the elderly. Purposely talk with them after services, and see if you could stop by and help or just visit some afternoon. Think of it, you just spent thousands of dollars to grow intellectually and spiritually at college, and many have never bothered tapping into 50-60 years of experience for free!

Second, interact. After 9 months at college things look the same, but they really have changed. Come to church prepared to ask questions. Ask about what God has been teaching them, ask about their joys/struggles. See if they have any special prayer requests or needs. Now is the greatest time to invest in people and get to know them on an adult level. Ask them how they met their spouse, or the steps they took when looking for a job or buying a house. After being gone, there will invariably be people at church who have never met you, go over and introduce yourself. Who knows if maybe you are one conversation away from making a lifetime friend?

Third, invest. Young people think college students are the bomb! (their word choice not mine) Do you remember how you felt as a junior higher when a college student took the time to talk with you? (If you never had that experience, then I am sorry the selfish, stuck up snobs robbed you of a very meaningful experience, don’t repeat their mistake.) You have an opportunity to shape moldable souls for eternity. You don’t have to teach a Sunday school class or do a weekly Bible study, to affect them eternally. Simply do what you do with a tag-along. If you are a race fan, kick out a few extra bucks and invite a younger kid to go with. If you like fishing, manicures, or whatever, invest in a young life. Remember, Paul’s admonition to be followers as he followed Christ. If you are a terrible role model, and an example of selfishness, then it is best that you stay selfish by yourself and not ruin a young soul for eternity.

Fourth, unveil. Church is meant to be a place where we share our burdens and take out our poky sticks and prompt each other to love and good works (Gal 6:1, Heb 10:24). When was the last time you helped someone carry a spiritual burden? When was the last time you agonized with someone else as they shared Scripture encouraging you to grow? Most people do not even realize that there is a spiritual battle raging in our souls. It is too dangerous to share and open up. The closest we may get to opening up is to share at prayer meeting, that we are struggling “with something”, or ask for an unspoken request. How many fellow warriors know about your battle with pornography? How many believers can raise their shields and help protect you from the assaults of depression, fear of failure, moral lapses, or the constant struggle with faithfulness? If I do not open up, church will become an archaic ritual, instead of a training ground for life.

Finally, pray. How often did you pray for your home church while you were away? HoMEDION DIGITAL CAMERAw often do you pray for your church right now? If I do not care enough about my church to pray for it, I have already left, and am just waiting for my body to catch up with my decision.

Awkwardity is a very good thing. It reminds us that there are some things that we need to change. If you are not engaging, interacting, unveiling, and or praying, then God’s gift to you at church will be the gift of awkwardity.

What I Wish I Knew About Church

sinners

Choosing a new church particularly as a college student can be a monumental task.  Many times we treat churches like a McDonalds menu, we order what we like, and we expect it our way.   There are many things I wish I had known as a college student picking out a church.

I wish I had known that I was an answer to prayer. The first new church I went to, the Pastor had prayed for a college student. Many churches are tired and life has zapped them of the energy of youth. Your presence could herald the fact that God is not done working in their church.

I wish I had known that it wasn’t about me. I wanted a church that could minister to my needs and make me comfortable. Nowhere in Scripture will we find this philosophy blessed. In fact the opposite is true, church is not about me. You should be searching for ministries that stretch you and move you away from your current comfort zone. If you are attending a church where you don’t feel you fit keep reading.

I wish I had known the value of the assets I possessed. I did not understand the value of what I possessed as a college student. Even if you cannot sing or feel qualified to teach, there is an enormous amount of untapped potential for a church in every college student. You have:

Abilities: The most obvious abilities in a church would be singing and teaching, but the list goes so much deeper. If the thought of standing in front of a congregation is more terrifying to you than a herd of rabid monkeys, that’s OK, simply check out what you do well.   An ability is simply a skill that you possess and every person has them. If you are sports minded, maybe you could be involved in a weekend camp. Maybe you are gifted with media and know how to convert audio into MP3’s, most churches could use that. Maybe your skills lie in art. See if you could design a bulletin or brochure. If you are mechanically minded, bring your tools and start some repairs. Maybe you like to cook, find an elderly lady who needs encouragement and bake away! Whatever your skills, God wants you to use them, and the church will be more than happy to plug you in.

Energy: This can translate into, playing ball after church, shoveling the walk, cleaning the church, chaperoning youth activities (includes free pizza), giving rides, greeting people, pushing children on the swings, giving testimonies, passing out flyers, setting up for activities, decorating, hanging out with the youth, talking with different age groups, writing a letter to a young kid….

Prayer: If you are not praying specifically for your church, it is not your church.MEDION DIGITAL CAMERA

There are many more assets that people possess, but make sure you are proactive about finding needs.

 

I wish I had known that people wanted me involved. I wish I had proactively gotten involved in people’s lives. I wish I had taken a directory home and memorized people’s names, and then told them I was praying specifically for them. I wish I had asked about people’s needs and done what I could to meet them. I wish I had understood the value of a listening ear. Larry King once remarked, “I never learned anything new when I was the one talking.”

I wish I had known to have a conversation with the pastor. I wish I had asked him about Scripture and his thoughts on theology. If I am paying thousands of dollars to get an education, why not take advantage of a man with oodles of degrees and years of life experience, and it’s all free.  I would have asked him several questions. I would have asked: if he ever doubted his choice to go into ministry, what concerns did he have for the church, what is his passion in ministry, how could I free up his time, if there was any way I could specifically encourage someone, what areas would he like me to serve in?… Most pastors are looking for someone to invest in, there is nothing more energizing for a pastor than someone who is willing to be poured into.

I wish I knew that church is a place where sinners go. So I should not be surprised when things are not perfect, including me.

I wish I had read ahead. If the teacher is going through a study or a book of the Bible, if you take a little time to read about the topic being discussed or read the Bible passage, it will increase learning exponentially.  

I wish I had known about consistency. Sadly, I attended 5 different churches during my 4 years at school. A lot of that had to do with logistics (transportation, and travel time), but I was not able to build lasting relationships or a consistent ministry. I wish I had kept with a church ministry and seen it grow. I also wish I had sent off a letter or two during the summer to keep everyone in touch with my life. If you do have to leave a church for some reason, be sure to let the leadership know as they have begun to care about and count of you.

Your church experience will directly mirror what you put into it. If you are willing to apply some of these practical ideas, I guarantee it will transform your church experience.

I would love to hear about your experiences or other suggestions for making church going a more fruitful experience.