God Through The Church
In his book Revolutionizing Christian
Stewardship for the 21st Century, the author, Dan Dick from the
General Board of Discipleship, does an excellent job in clarifying the
meaning of stewardship and the spiritual gifts we are given to serve
God. The following are excerpts from his book on stewardship,
discipleship, and serving God through the church.
Most all local church Finance Committees
have at one time or another heard some member remind the committee that
the church is a business and needs to run like one. Yet, think of the
complications of such a statement. Any secular business that forgets its
mission is in deep trouble. Businesses need to make a profit to stay in
business but the profit is not the mission. Businesses and churches do
not exist to exist; their legitimacy comes from knowing why they exist
and from marshalling their spiritual, human, and temporal resources to
fulfill their primary task. The church is a steward when it is faithful
to its mission. SUMC's mission is "To help people know Christ and to
fulfill the gospel in our church, community and the world."
Stewardship supports a process of growth for
Christian disciples: it is not about funding the needs of the church.
Stewardship is servanthood to God through the church, not to the church.
Stewardship in the church is composed of diverse and gifted people who
are growing in their discipleship and sharing their faith through the
community and the world. Rather than the church being served by the
members, the church serves the members by enabling gifted and called
members to honor and glorify God in their daily living using their God
The apostle Paul describes twenty spiritual
gifts in his letters to the churches at Corinth, Rome, and Ephesus. We
are all blessed with one or more of these spiritual gifts. Knowing our
gifts and using them to serve God through the church, in the community
and in the world is at the heart of stewardship. Listed below, from the
Dan Dick's book, is a brief description of the twenty gifts of the
Spirit proposed by the apostle Paul. As you read this list see if you
can discover your own gifts and then reflect on how you might use those
to better serve God and help in fulfilling the mission of the church.
The gift of organizing human and material
resources for the work of Christ, including the ability to plan and work
with people to delegate responsibilities, track progress, and evaluate
the effectiveness of procedures. Administrators attend to details,
communicate effectively, and take as much pleasure in working behind the
scenes as they do in standing in the spotlight.
The gift of spreading the gospel of Jesus
Christ to other cultures and foreign lands. This is the missionary zeal
that movers us from the familiar into uncharted territory to share the
This gift is exceptional empathy with those
in need that moves us to action. More than just concern, compassion
demands that we share the suffering of others in order to connect the
gospel truth with other realities of life. Compassion moves us beyond
our comfort zones to offer practical, tangible aid to all God's children
regardless of the worthiness of the recipients or the response we
receive for our service.
This is the ability to separate truth from
erroneous teachings and to rely on spiritual intuition to know what God
is calling us to do. Discernment allows us to focus on what is truly
important and to ignore that which deflects us from faithful obedience
to God. Discernment aids us in knowing whom to listen to and whom to
This is the gift of exceptional
encouragement. Exhorters see the silver lining in every cloud, offer a
deep and inspiring hope to persons, and look for and commend the best in
everyone. Exhorters empower the community of faith to feel good about
itself and to feel hopeful for the future. Exhorters are not concerned
by appearances; they hold fast to what they know to be true and right
More than just belief, faith is a gift that
empowers an individual or a group to hold fast to its identity in Christ
in the face of any challenge. The gift of faith enables believers to
rise above pressures and problems that might otherwise cripple them.
Faith is characterized by an unshakable trust in God to deliver on God's
promises, no matter what. The gift of faith inspires those who might be
tempted to give up, to hold on.
Beyond the regular response of gratitude to
God that all believers make, giving as a gift is the ability to use the
resource of money to support the work of the body of Christ. Giving is
the ability to manage money to the honor and glory of God. Givers can
discern the best ways to put money to work, can understand the validity
and practicality of appeals for funds, and can guide church leaders in
the most faithful methods for managing the congregation's finances.
This is the gift of channeling God's healing
powers into the lives of God's people. Physical, emotional, spiritual,
and psychological healing are all ways that healers manifest this gift.
Healers are prayerful, and they help people understand that healing is
in the hands of God, that healing is often more than just erasing
negative symptoms. Some of the most powerful healers display some of the
most heartbreaking afflictions.
This is the gift of making sure that
everything is ready for the work of Christ to occur. Helpers assist
others to accomplish the mission and ministry of the church. These
"unsung heroes" work behind the scenes and attend to details. Helpers
function faithfully, regardless of the credit or attention they receive.
Helpers provide the framework upon which the ministry of the church is
This gift has two very different
understandings: (1) The ability to interpret foreign languages without
the necessity of formal study to communicate with those who have not
heard the Christian message or (2) the ability to interpret the gift of
tongues as a secret prayer language that communicates with God at a deep
spiritual level. Both understandings are communal in nature: the first
extends the good news into the world; the second strengthens the faith
within the fellowship.
This is the gift of knowing the truth
through faithful study of the Scripture and the human situation.
Knowledge provides the information necessary for the transformation of
the world and formation of the body of Christ. Those possessing this
gift challenge the fellowship to improve itself through study, reading
of the Scripture, discussion, and prayer.
This is the gift of orchestrating the gifts
and resources of others to achieve the mission and ministry of the
church. Leaders move the community of faith toward a God-given vision of
service, and they enable others to use their gifts to the very best of
their abilities. Leaders are capable of creating synergy, whereby the
community of faith accomplishes much more than its individual members
could achieve on their own.
This gift enables the church to operate at a
spiritual level that recognizes the miraculous work of God in the world.
Miracle workers invoke God's power to accomplish that which appears
impossible by worldly standards. Miracle workers remind the fellowship
of the extraordinary nature of the ordinary world, pray for God to work
in the lives of others, and they feel no sense of surprise when their
prayers are answered.
This is the gift of speaking the Word of God
clearly and faithfully. Prophets allow God to speak through them to
communicate the message that people most need to hear. While often
unpopular, prophets are able to say what needs to be said because of the
spiritual empowerment they receive. Prophets do not foretell the future,
but proclaim God's future by revealing God's perspective on our current
This is the gift of serving the spiritual
and material needs of other people within and beyond the local church.
Servants understand their place in the body of Christ as giving comfort
and aid to all who are in need. Servants look to the needs of others
rather than focus on their own needs. To serve is to put faith into
action; it is to treat others as if they were indeed Jesus Christ
himself. The gift of service extends our Christian love into the world.
This is the gift of guidance. Shepherds
nurture other Christians in the faith and provide a mentoring
relationship to those who are new to the faith. Displaying an unusual
spiritual maturity, shepherds share from their experience and learning
to facilitate the spiritual growth and development of others. Shepherds
take individuals under their care and walk with them on their spiritual
journeys. Many shepherds provide spiritual direction and guidance to a
wide variety of believers.
This is the gift of bringing scriptural and
spiritual truths to others. More than just teaching church school,
teachers witness to the truth of Jesus Christ in a variety of ways, and
they help others to understand the complex realities of the Christian
faith. Teachers are revealers. They shine the light of understanding
into the darkness of doubt and ignorance. They open people to new
truths, and they challenge people to be more than they have been in the
This gift has two popular interpretations
(1) The ability to communicate the gospel to other people in a foreign
language or (2) the ability to speak to God in a secret, unknown prayer
language that can only be understood by a person possessing the gift of
interpretation. The gift of speaking in the language of another culture
makes the gift of tongues valuable for spreading the gospel throughout
the world; while the gift of speaking a secret prayer language offers
the opportunity to build faithfulness within a community of faith.
This is the gift of translating life
experience into spiritual truth and seeing the application of scriptural
truth to daily living. The wise in our fellowships offer balance and
understanding that transcend reason. Wisdom applies a God-given common
sense to our understanding of God's plan for the church. Wisdom helps
the community of faith remain focused on the important work of the
church, and it enables younger, less mature Christians to benefit from
those who have been blessed by God to share deep truths.
The gifts given by God are for us to use
through the church to take the will of God into our church, community
and the world. Please reflect on these gifts to see where you might
apply your own to further God's work.
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