Making Good Use of Good Gifts?

Each week during worship at Christ Presbyterian Church, we pass the plates and give an offering. In many ways this is the same worship act that has been going on in churches for centur

ies. As the Pastor, I am given the task of “calling for the offering” during worship. This is an introductory statement that is intended to both provide transition between parts of our worship, but is also, and perhaps more importantly, a time for me, as worship leader, to remind us of the why and what of our offering. So then, what is the why and what of our offering?

One answer to the questions of why we come up with, is that the bills need to be paid. Practically speaking, this is part of the reality of our offering. We do give to perpetuate the ministry of the church. Without financial offerings, the church as we know it with buildings, staff and other expenses, would not exist. We do a good job of talking about why when we engage in our yearly financial stewardship emphasis. But there is a more important answer to the question of why. The other, and frankly real, reason we give is in response to what God has done in our lives. Each week during worship, we take a moment to physically embody our thankfulness. While financial stewardship is an important part of our response, there are many other ways we respond. Next month we will focus our minds and hearts squarely on what it means to respond with our financial gifts. We also need to be mindful of making sure we are offering the other aspects our life to God.

This begs the question, “what?” What do we bring as offerings to God? Some people may notice that during worship I always make a point of diversifying our response to this question. It is important that we remember that we have a whole lot more in our lives than our financial gifts. “Each of us is given a gift for the common good.” This phrase is part of our ordination service and serves as a reminder that we are blessed with unique spiritual gifts that must be brought to bear in the Church.

As I write, the nominating taskforce is working to identify leadership in our congregation. They are busy praying, consulting and contacting. Each year when the process of nominations begins, I remind the members of the taskforce that they are seeking to discern those whom God is calling. It’s not a job that is about recruitment as much as it is about partnering with God, and those who they identify as candidates to answer their sacred calling. There is an axiom in the church when it comes to calling, “God does not call the qualified, God qualifies the called.” This reminds us that leadership in the church is all about what God has done and is doing.

Two years ago we shifted our way of being from managerial to empowering. The members of Session went from being those who led everything and compelled others to help, to those who seek to connect our members and friends with their gifts for ministry. This leads us to have individual task leaders who are not only invested in what they are doing, but passionate about it. Of course this type of model is dependent on the congregation remembering that part of the response they are called to make is investment. Not only financial investment, but the commitment of spiritual gifts and time must be included in our response to what God has done. Without the leadership and participation of our members, we fail to express the full nature of what God has blessed us with.

This begs the questions:

“How are you responding to the gifts God has shown in your life?”

“What areas of the church can you offer your spiritual gifts in?”

 

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