When I was candidating at my last church, I had a meeting with members of the choir. During the Q & A, someone asked what was on my iPod. To this, I answered…
After the smattering of laughter at my attempt at being clever, I answered. The fact is that I listen to a lot of sermon podcasts. I will go through my list in another post on another day, but my favorite podcast every week is Pastor Johnny Hunt from First Baptist Church Woodstock in Woodstock, GA. Pastor Johnny recently ended his term as President of the SBC, and has led FBCW to tremendous growth and outreach. He is a spiritual hero of mine.
His sermon from this past Sunday (12/5/10) was very good, though much shorter than usual (find it here). It was entitled Serving to God’s Glory from 1 Peter 4v10-11 about using our spiritual gifts.
About twenty minutes into the message, he talked about people leaving during the invitation. Anyone that goes to church knows what he is talking about. We’ve all seen it. The pastor gives the invitation and people get up and leave, because, naturally, the Holy Spirit didn’t intend to do miraculous things in their lives that day anyway (tongue firmly in cheek). He said that he received a note from someone in his church. This person said that, during a recent service, God was obviously dealing with someone in their section and, because of so many people leaving during the invitation, they couldn’t come forward. To this, Pastor Johnny said…
Have you ever thought that maybe, in those last few moments after you’ve heard God’s message… fellowshipped with God’s people… have you ever thought that maybe THAT’S the moment God’s gonna use your spiritual gift to encourage somebody? You’re a gifted child of God. And you are to use that gift.
Later still, he talked about people who leave the church. They usually blame the pastor or the music, saying that it doesn’t minister to them anymore. He posed the question…
How ’bout the giftedness you’ve been given? Does it minister to others like it used to? And by the way… if it’s all about Him, why are there so many questions about you?
He then stated something profound: when people leave the church, many assume it is because the pastor or other staff didn’t adequately “exercise their gifts.” Is that necessarily true? Or could it be, sometimes, that others in the church body didn’t use their gifts?
I thought about the context of my church. There are three ministerial staff members and about 400 people in attendance on Sunday morning. That is one staff member per 133.3 people. I guarantee that I do not personally come in contact with 133.3 people on Sunday morning. If there is someone among my 133.3 that is hurting, needs encouragement, a kind word, a friendly greeting… I may not even see them or get to speak to them.
But others could.
If any one member of the Body of Christ decides to keep their gifts to themselves and does not serve others, then people are deprived of the blessings that God intended them to receive via those gifts.
Let’s work together, Church!