Verse of the Month:
Philippians 4:8-“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.”
Go ahead and turn to Romans 12 while I set up this morning’s message if you will.
So, it is the Falcons versus the Patriots! Who is going to win? How many of you are cheering for the Falcons? How about the Patriots?
I have never been a big football person, but I did get a bit more engaged this year since our son decided to play at Winfield High. I must say, football is quite complicated. There is a lot of strategy, a lot of planning, and each player has a specific role out on the field to play. There were times this season I had no idea what I was looking at or cheering for. I just tried to yell whatever Penny Snyder was yelling so I looked like I knew what I was doing! My football EQ probably only went up about three points, but one thing I did come away understanding is this:
When there is great participation, communication, determination, coordination, and execution as a team, good things happen on the field. When that doesn’t happen, most of the time people wind up on the ground in a pile. Or at least that has been my observation.
I guarantee you that tonight those playing in the Super Bowl will be focused. They will have spent time understanding their role. They will go in with a sense of purpose. They will be hyped up and ready to give it their all. Their heads and hearts will be in the game at all times. They have envisioned themselves as winners, and they will play accordingly.
It will take each player, doing what they do to the best of their ability in order for the team to succeed. The Kicker will have to kick well. The Quarterback will have to run the offense with discernment and skill. The Running Back will have to pay attention to the time clock and understand how to control the pace of the game. The Center will need to hike the ball into the hands of the Quarterback with precision. The Cornerbacks will need to defend the long passes. The Offensive Linemen will need to protect the Quarterback. The Wide Receivers are going to need to run well and have good hands to catch the ball. The Linebackers need to have the grit and guts to tackle runners and sack the other Quarterback. The Safety will have to wisely understand what is happening almost before it even happens. As the last line of defense, he will need to keep the other team from scoring. While each position will execute in various ways, the Tight End will have multiple responsibilities. He will protect the Quarterback, run the ball, catch the ball acting as part of the offensive line, act as a Running Back at times, and act as a Wide Receiver whenever necessary. (Did I get all of that right?)
The winning team will win because they will be the team whose players know best what their role is and understand how to execute that role. That will determine the outcome, and only time will tell.
Romans 12:4-8 (NIV) 4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
1 Corinthians 12:4-14 (NIV) 4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.
5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. 7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.8 To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines. 12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many.
So, today’s message is about spiritual gifts. Spiritual gifts aren’t necessarily tied to your natural gifts and talents, although there is probably some overlap for many of us. Spiritual gifts are abilities given to us by the Holy Spirit that could be lifelong pursuits or special abilities given to us in a moment of time to help us make a positive impact on the people and circumstances around us. As we learn to know what our gifts are, and as we learn to operate in those gifts as a team, we as the Body of Christ, become better at advancing the Gospel and helping people experience Christ in a victorious way.
As we begin I want to tell you first of all, that on God’s team: YOU HAVE A POSITION TO PLAY. I Corinthians 12:7 says, “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”
You have a position to play! Every Christ-follower has at least one spiritual gift, and most have more than one. Most of us are like the Tight End with two or three different gifts and responsibilities. If you are a Christian this morning, none of you can say you don’t matter or that you aren’t needed. God has placed you in this body of believers on purpose for a special reason. I often tell our newcomers at our Pizza with the Pastors newcomer lunches that they are the people we have prayed God would send. We believe that. We believe if you are led here, it is because the expression of your gifts is what is needed in order for this body of believers to thrive.
Tonight, I guarantee you each player wants as much playing time as possible. This is what they have dreamt about. It is what they have worked for. It is what has occupied their minds. They want to play. They want to be in the game. They want to contribute. They want the “W!” Do we have the same drive, commitment and passion as the Body of Christ?
Do we come to this place looking to serve, looking to engage, looking to contribute because we are eager to see the Kingdom of God advance? Or are we ok just sitting on the sidelines and watching others execute the plays? I remember that in one of my childhood churches the church’s tag line was, “Where every member is a minister.” The purpose of that phrase was to help people understand they had been saved to serve and not saved to sit. They were on the team and had a position to play. Will you ask God to help you embrace it this morning?
The second thing I want you to leave here knowing is that WE ARE A TEAM. This is NOT the Melissa Pratt show or the anyone else show. This is God’s team, and He is the head of this fellowship. We are team members together. I value you. I need you, and you need me. Look at verse 7 again and pay close attention to the end of it: Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. For the common good! It is for my benefit that you are on the team. It is for your benefit that I am on the team. What happens through this ministry isn’t to elevate any one person, but it is for the benefit of every one. All for one and one for all! The health of this church and the strength of our witness is dependent upon us understanding and embracing this concept. We are in this together, and each person is indispensable.
I love the analogies in Scripture because they paint a vivid picture of the truth God wants us to understand. We, God’s Team, are called a Body. We are the Body of Christ. I love how Paul puts it in I Corinthians 12. Look again at verse 14: 14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.
Some of us are feet. We shouldn’t try to be a hand. Some of us are ears, so we shouldn’t try to be eyes. We should be the ears we were made to be. We can’t all be eyes because if we were all eyes, there would be no ears, no noses, no hands, no feet, and no armpits! (Well, maybe we could live without the armpits.) But, seriously, our differences are what make sure every part of our body is covered. Our differences make sure we can function to optimal capacity and that we are healthy as a body. Just as the parts of our body work together to make life happen, so too, the parts of the Body of Christ come together as a team to make spiritual life happen for people who haven’t yet surrendered to Jesus.
We do so much more than have worship services, but let’s just take that facet of our Body Life and talk about our team concept for a second that enables just this worship service. We have people who stock the chair pockets with blue cards and pens. We have people who clean the sanctuary to prepare this space. There is someone who takes my messages and creates media for them. There are people who run our sound, media and live streaming. Extra effort is given to format our media and proof it on Saturdays. We have people who make sure there are Kleenex and mints around the altars. We have people who prepare the bulletin, proofread the bulletin, and fold the bulletin. We have musicians who plan the service music, who put it into folders, who rehearse the service music and who lead us each week. We have people who sing in the choir and do solos, who lead prayers, lead communion, and pray with people at the altars. There are people who make sure our guest gifts are ready so that when I make the announcement that a gift is waiting, one is actually ready. Many people come forward to take names out of prayer pots in order to intercede for those in need. We have ushers who take the offering and count the people in the sanctuary. And there are security people designated to have eyes on all of us all of the time here in the sanctuary to make sure we worship in peace. All of that happens just to make this sanctuary experience happen the way that it does. I didn’t even mention the children’s and youth ministries, the check-in people, the bus ministry drivers and riders, the coffee ministry, the greeters, the parking lot people and those who unlock and lock up. It would be staggering to count up the man hours involved in all of that. There is no way that a few people could pull that off. It is a team effort.
One more thing before I leave this point. I Corinthians 12:26 tells us that if one part of our body suffers, the whole body suffers. We can understand this because when we injure one part of our body it impacts the rest of our body and dictates how the rest of our body has to compensate or rest in order to support the part of our body that is inured. The same is true of us as a team. If you are hurting, it should impact me. If you need help, I need to be there to support you in your time of need and vise-versa.
The last thing I want you to know about this team effort before we talk about the individual gifts is this: TOGETHER, WE CAN WIN.
We have had many victories over the last decade together. God is giving us success, and He is leading us to more victory in His name. On Friday I went into McDonalds to get some tea and when I do that I always greet the men who have become squatters in the center section of the restaurant. They meet every morning for coffee and to solve the world’s problems. One of the men in the group said to me, “I heard a rumor that you are leaving the church.” That was news to me, and I assured him it wasn’t true.
I can honestly tell you, I have never felt more called to this ministry than I do right now. As long as God tells me this is where He wants me, I am here. This is my team, and God hasn’t told me He is trading me yet. I say it every year at our annual business meeting, but I truly believe the best days are still ahead for this church, and part of the reason we will win at advancing the kingdom and seeing souls saved will be because YOU are on the team and because you will passionately execute your position, your role in our Kingdom effort.
I have taken the list of spiritual gifts and have put them into some team language for us to consider. I have come up with eight different teams or positions within our team.
Vision Team-Leadership and Faith
God needs people who can discern what God is up to and to inspire others to follow where He is leading. One of my main roles as the pastor here is to discern God’s heart for this fellowship and to exercise faith in God’s plans as I lead. Our staff are people who demonstrate leadership and great faith. They continue to risk to reach new people and to grow those under them in their areas of leadership. Those who lead ministries here as well, continue to equip people to follow their God-given vision. Our Trustee Board members also have to be people who believe God and can make big decisions about the future of this ministry.
Some of you are people that God has spoken to regarding starting a ministry. You have had a dream and a desire, and we have helped you find resources to get going and to create something where nothing existed. That has taken leadership gifts and faith. We pray God will raise up more leaders who are sold out to Christ and want to start new ministries in His name.
Communication Team-Preaching, Evangelism, Missions, Bible teaching,
encouragement, wisdom, discernment and knowledge.
We must be sharing the Gospel and training people to be more like Christ. We need people with a passion for God’s Word who will help teach classes and mentor new believers. We need people who can “rightly-divide” the word of truth, people who have the gift of teaching, exhortation and prophecy, people who can explain God’s truth in a way that is understandable and relevant. We need people to teach our children, our youth and our adults. We need people who will share Bible messages in the community at nursing homes, through their FCA clubs, and with people they encounter on the street. We need people who have communication gifts to become excellent Bible students in order that they will be able to answer questions and inspire other people to want to know more about the Word of God.
Here is what I think: The way we will hold on to Christ in these last days, in these times of confusion and persecution is to hold on to the Word of God. His Word will be left standing in the end. We need to know it and proclaim it. The only way we will stand against temptation and refute the lies of Satan is with the Word of God. It must not be compromised.
Demonstration Team-Showing God’s love through greeting, hospitality, meals, cards, visitation, and giving to others in need.
People will be convinced of God’s love for them as they see it demonstrated in our lives. I love it when I visit someone in the hospital and they tell me about the two or three other church members who got there before me. I love it when someone messages me as they did last week and asks if they could make a meal for someone who needed one. I love it when people say this is the friendliest and most-welcoming church they have ever visited because several people shook their hands and someone asked them to sit with them on their first visit. I love it when I go to someone’s home, and on their mantle, is a card from one of our encouragement team. I love it when you contact us and say you have an extra bunk bed, dresser or washer if there is someone who needs one. How we respond to people who are hurting and to people in need will leave a lasting impression with people regarding what God is like. We want to make sure it is the right impression.
Inspiration Team-Gifts that help people experience God’s presence like music and worship, sound, media, dance, and drama.
Inspiration Team-Gifts that help people experience God’s presence like music and worship, sound, media, dance, and drama.
Perspiration Team-Set up Tear Down. Show up. Help Out.
Ministry is hard work. It involves coming early at times and staying late at times. It involves setting up tables and chairs and cleaning up after events. It involves construction, sewing, painting, cleaning, weed-pulling, and all kinds of “behind-the-scenes” support. We probably need more people on this team than any other team. Our coffee ministry is part of our hospitality ministry, but it involves preparation, setting up, coming early, and cleaning up. How many of you appreciate the coffee ministry? We need some committed people to sign up to serve as we are transitioning in our leadership in that area.
Administration Team-Planning, execution, strategy.
As we grow we need people who know how to organize groups of people, how to lay things out in stages, how to make the best use of space, how to develop systems that help us keep track of people, how to communicate effectively between our office and our members and between ministries. We need people who know how to plan and execute, people who know how to get things done, how to put others to work, how to build teams.
Being in prayer for our services is so important. During the second service, the youth gather up front and some of the men gather to pray for the Spirit of God to move. I would invite any of you who feel led to be used of God to pray for our services, to come to an altar of prayer before the services start or to gather in teams for prayer. Every Wednesday a few of us gather at noon for a half hour of prayer. Oh, how I would love for that group to grow. Those of you who take the bulletin home and pray over the needs there, please understand you are partnering with God for the miracles, the inspiration and encouragement those people need to continue day by day.
I struggled to find a word to describe the team that would financially support the work of the church, and the word “foundation” kept coming to my mind. We can’t do what we do without your faithful, financial support. You know we are in a capital campaign. When we started the design-build process four years ago, building materials were cheaper. Our vision was also smaller. We are looking at breaking ground sometime this year on a 4 million-dollar plus building. It is going to take all of us on this team to see it happen. If you haven’t been part of our “Come Together” capital campaign, I urge you to get on the team. Every one of us can be involved in some way. Our campaign goal of 1.75 million came in at just over one million dollars. Could we go forward with those pledges in faith believing God for a miracle? Yes, we could. But wouldn’t it be more exciting and fun to say we did it all together? We need you and your financial support.
1 Peter 4:10 says, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”
1 Timothy 4:14 says, “Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you.”
I said at the beginning of the message: When there is great participation, communication, determination, coordination, and execution as a team, good things happen on the field. For us, there is so much more than a Super Bowl Ring at stake. Souls are at stake. Our field is a mission field. The end zone for us is the salvation of souls. If you are saved, you have a position to play. We are a team. We will win, but our success is tied to every member’s desire to be in the game and to execute the plays where God has designed for them to serve. What position will you play?