Guest blogger Ken Boonstra joins us today for this reflection.
(Over the next week we will be focusing on seven areas of the mission statement of Immanuel CRC)
"Immanuel Christian Reformed Church
is a multigenerational community of disciples
called by God to utilize our spiritual gifts
by growing in our knowledge of and passion for Jesus Christ,
joining in relationship with others,
and serving God in the renewal of His creation."
Utilizing our Spiritual Gifts – We discover our own unique gifts through education and then actively search for ways to utilize these gifts in our church, neighborhood, community, and the world.
Spiritual gifts have been around since the church began. The book of Acts says that on the first Pentecost people from all over the world heard the disciples “speaking in their own language” (Acts 2:6). No, it wasn’t alcohol. Peter said God’s Spirit had been poured out on all people, just like the prophet Joel said would happen. The apostle Paul in multiple places (Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4) speaks about the people of God having gifts, unique gifts to be used for God’s purposes.
The Christian Reformed Church came to grips with this teaching again in the 70s when nearly every Sunday School or adult education time worked through some form of “Discover Your Gifts.” The Spirit of God was reawakening the church to the truth that God’s Spirit equips us and mobilizes us for service in the church and the world. Some teach, some administer, some give – but all use their gifts so that God’s church flourishes and God’s world is renewed.
Knowing your gifts gives you clarity about how to serve. God has blessed me with gifts of leadership, teaching, discernment, and prophecy. So I’m more inclined to want to wrestle with solutions to tough issues and paint a picture of a vision for a new future than to visit people in the hospital. These are the gifts God has given me. And I am thankful to God that there are others who have the gifts of mercy and compassion to visit those who are in need. Together we serve our God making Immanuel CRC his force in Ripon.
I am convinced that if everyone knew and used their gifts as blessed by God the church would be an irresistible force for God’s kingdom. God gives us gifts, not for our purposes – to build our nest egg or make our kingdom greater. God gives gifts to pursue God’s kingdom. We won’t realize the full benefit of our gifts unless we use them for God.
I once talked to a man who clearly had a knack for making money. I told him that making money was only one half of the gift God had given him. The other half, the fun half, was using the money to make a difference for God in the world. So he began to fully unleash his gift by using the money he made for many purposes – establishing short-term mission opportunities, funding ministries in the broader community, supporting efforts to enhance marriages through weekend conferences/seminars. He began having immense fun unleashing his gift of giving – making lots of money, giving lots of money so that God’s purposes were pursued.
Now, spiritual gifts aren’t meant for inside the church only. Members can discover their gifts for compassion or mercy and can become shepherd leaders in our congregation or tutor children at the local school. Members discover their gifts for prayer and lead in congregational prayers at our worship services or pray on neighborhood walks. Those with the gifts of administration get involved in our ministry committees or Governing Council or they might take up a role with City Council or the Ripon Unified School board.
So what are your spiritual gifts and how can you use them in Immanuel and the broader community? Feel free to leave your comments below and let’s encourage each other for how God has shaped us into his community with many members and many gifts.