Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Integrating Ministry & Marketplace: 2 Big Lies about Spiritual Gifts

So lately I’ve been pondering the divide between vocational and marketplace ministry, specifically its relationship to spiritual gifts.

‘Cause I’ll be honest: I don’t get the chasm…the compartmentalization among these facets.

I mean…it’s not like the seven spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12) were ever meant to be exclusive to pastoral leaders or limited to “inside church use” only. Certainly the church would have the common sense to teach/preach the seven motivational gifts (the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit) as gifts designed for everyone to take anywhere…right?

*Crickets*                                                                                                                                *Crickets*

Oh snap, did I just stumble into a white elephant?

Eh, maybe I did. But still…this needs to be talked about. After all, if we desire to be the opposite of what Paul warned about in 1 Corinthians 12:1 (i.e. misinformed), it only makes sense to buckle up and dive into the issue.

But before we do, permit me to provide some context.

In my experience, the abuse of ‘spiritual gift teaching’ falls into two primary camps:
  1. The notion that spiritual gift development can only happen in the church.
  2. The notion that spiritual gift application can only happen in the church.
Granted, I know there are more categories, but for now, we’ll narrow our focus on these two criteria in hope to debunk some faulty doctrine.

Lie 1: Spiritual gift development can only happen in the church.

I’m not sure how this deception started, but no question, the legalistic undertones are evident considering it assumes a) life should be nothing more than the work of ministry1, b) business matters are inherently evil because man is inherently evil, and c) the marketplace is a byproduct of the fall; however, when we look at Adam/Eve’s original design, we find the marketplace and the establishment of institutional order to be a byproduct of creation. After all, when God created man, He also created his role…and considered it good (Genesis 1:26-31)

Thus, it’s important to note how the garden was just as much marketplace as it was ministry…and why it’s dangerous to compare and contrast ministry and marketplace as segregated entities.

‘Cause truth is: we may experience spiritual gift activation in the church; however, this doesn’t mean development can’t happen outside it given God is a God of grace, has the loving power to ignite one’s heart anytime, anywhere, and intended pursuing love and earnestly desiring spiritual gifts to go hand in hand (1 Corinthians 14:1).

Bottom line: The reality of love and the truth of creation give credence to spiritual gift development happening anywhere, not just the church.

Lie 2: Spiritual gift application can only happen in the church.

Dare I say it…this one may be even more baffling than the first. Again, the church was meant to equip and mobilize, not centralize and maintain. So why anyone would think the church was designed to be an entertainment hub as opposed to a stewarding/dispersion center is beyond me, especially when you consider the purpose of the church is to worship God through word and prayer, to love one another, partake of baptism and the Lord’s Supper…and oh, yeah…go therefore and make [disciple-makers] (Acts 2:42).

Yes, learning how to apply and mature our spiritual gifts in a koinonia (Greek for fellowship, sharing in common) setting is essential; however, if such demonstration is limited to “in-house”, can we honestly say the our faith is reaching where it needs to?

Bottom line: Spiritual gifts are meant to be shared as salt and light with the world, not stashed as inventory in the secret basements of what we call church. Thus, if what we believe reduces spiritual gifts to an iPhone and church as a charging port, I strongly encourage you: shift your paradigm…and dare to apply/extend what you experience in church to other places of influence.

Looking ahead to next month, expect a more intimate dig into what pastoral ministry in the marketplace looks like (with a more defined emphasis on how to rightfully use spiritual gifts in our areas of business)…with a subsequent series on what marketplace ministry looks like in the church later on.

For now, if any of this content resonates, feel free to comment below. And as always, if you have a prayer request/praise report, there’s a place for that on His Girl Fryday.

Blessings on your week,

~ Cameron

Footnotes

1) More specifically..."ministry as ministry"

Photo creds: outlookmag.org (edited by Cameron Fry)

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

LEGACYouth: An Intro to Testimony

Intro: In recent months, we've talked a great deal about storytelling (specifically discipling through storying). Today, we want to continue in the same vein discussing what a testimony is and how to ultimately apply in our daily lives...

Preview: Today's Word is brought to you by...
 
1) One of our favorite verses: "And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts." ~ 2 Corinthians 3:3\
 
2) Where God is leading us as a group this summer...

TESTIMONY
  • A proclamation of God as Lord and Savior (7 words)
  • The legal proof of God's trustworthiness (6 words)
  • A visible reminder of God's supremacy (6 words)
  • God's story in your story (5 words)
  • A revelation of God (4 words)
  • Who God is (3 words)
  • God did (2 words)
  • Jesus (1 word)
  • *love* (no words)
 
TYPES OF TESTIMONY
 
1) How you came to know Jesus... (Past testimony)

2) How you're growing in Jesus... (Evolving testimony)

"My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge. With the mighty deeds of the Lord God I will come; I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone. O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come." ~ Psalm 71:15-18
 
"And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death." ~ Revelation 12:11

"But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect..." ~ 1 Peter 3:15

3) A specific instance in which God moved in and through you...  (A testimony)

4) How much God has done for you... (Evolving testimony)

Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him." ~
Luke 8:39

5) How God is tying our stories together... (Evolving testimony)

Note: "Testimony" is not an individualistic term, but it's a unity term (just like the Bible is composed of 66 chapters housed together to tell one whole story)




CONCLUSION: If our lives are going to truly speak, we must be willing to voice God's Word in our hearts...using words if necessary...yet recognizing often times, words are necessary. Thus, it's important we make an intentional effort in developing this spiritual call. 'Cause at the end of the day, God gives everyone multiple outlets and many opportunities to reflect His love...His truth...His wondrous deed. He's always faithful to show us how we're to invest our time and seed (see #OneEpicSummer). The question is: Do you want to be ready?
 
Photo creds: peacefulpromises.files.wordpress.com

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Staying the Course: Why 5 Years is [Kinda] a Big Deal

So yesterday I [finally] received my 'Five Years of Service' award from the State. 
























Yeah, yeah...I know what you're thinkin': five years...big whoop; trust me...I know it's not the grandest of accolades. 

At the same time, I can't help but feel somewhat triumphant.

'Cause truth is: to work five years at the same place these days means something1.

Granted, my inner youth may be showing here; however, this doesn't mean I can't sense something far transcending mere marketplace mileage when I look at what many would consider a borderline frameable piece of paper.

Thus, I suppose the $64,000 question is: Why write about a little certificate anyway?

Well, for starters, the truth behind the text hits a nerve near and dear to my heart...which makes sense when you consider "how to faithfully stay the course at all costs" (i.e. being patient and perseverant in the face of disappointment, discouragement, disillusionment, etc.) is actually one of me and Lyssah's biggest life messages. For to coast through the motions is human, but for those who dare to be dissatisfied, knowing how to press through when life doesn't make sense is worth discussion2.


Yet, as for my wall trophy, while some may see it as just another award, I’m compelled to see it as something more - specifically, a declaration of my commitment to keep fighting…even when I'm tempted to pit my dream against someone else's, to view my day job as a necessary evil, or buy into the lie that my identity/worth is nothing more than a title3.

For a time will come when I burst out of this comatose and bid adieu to my stale, cubical vacuum…and the vertical bar shadows five years of sunrises have cast beneath my feet.

But for now, I rejoice and boast in God who has empowered me not to quit…and to love in a life/grace/hopeless4 place where some make a living by not living at all.

After all, it was never supposed to be easy.

So here’s to a symbolic representation of the biggest challenge in my life…and the next five years of my occupational career regardless if the setting changes or not.

 ‘Cause while the struggle, the heartache, the disappointment…has been real…

…undeniably, incontestably, penetratingly real…

 …I consider it all worthwhile…

…as it’s surely equipped me for bigger, better things down the road.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Perhaps you're reading this with some sense of resonance, whether you're struggling to justify your weekday life, have been victimized by unholy prejudices and tolerances, been unfairly criticized by authority figures, or simply find yourself in a cliqued environment where you don't fit. If so, I encourage you to stay the course, to be fearless being you + set apart, to trumpet thanksgiving into the voids...and to ask the Lord to renew a steadfast, relentlessly yielded heart within you.

Yes, there may still be setbacks. Yes, there may still be hurdles to clear.

Again, I'm not saying it's going to be easy...
...but I am saying it's going to be worth it.

Selah. 

Footnotes

1) Especially for pre-Millennials/Millennials
2) Not to mention one of the main reasons 'His Girl Fryday' was born as a resource to brighten the light at the end of the tunnel for those in challenging vocational/bivocational arenas
3) Bullet points inspired by Jon Acuff’s “Quitter”
4) Seemingly

Photo creds: writerightwords.com

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Sunday, May 8, 2016

3 Ways to Cultivate a Reproducible Ministry

When it comes to the bivocational life, no question, leaving a legacy (heck, just staying the course) is hard work. I know for me, finding time, energy, even resources…can quickly become challenging tasks when life seems to bottle up in any one area. With that said, I also know when we center our attention and effort on cultivating a reproducible ministry, we ultimately discover the mindset, heart, and tools necessary to be maximally faithful in our respective realms.

So while the topic of “reproducible ministry” may seem like a daunting topic to some, by committing to these three basic points, you’ll find achieving the dream by and through God is completely possible.


1) Spread the “wealth”
– No, I’m not talking about financial delegation; rather, I’m talking about sharing leadership opportunities with the rest of the body.

I know, I know…that’s blasphemy, right? *Sarcasm*

Well, as sad as it may seem, there are still quite a few ministers who abide by the archaic notion that preaching and teaching is a one-man, uni-directional gig; however, when we look at what effective Kingdom-centered, missionally-minded ministry looks like, we find the common denominator lies not in sustainability, but in reproducibility. As Pastor Jim Harris, Discipleship Pastor at Grace Chapel, once said about cultivating a thriving, disciple-making culture, “What we do needs to be reproducible. If it’s too complicated, then it’s not mission-minded.”


In other words, a healthy ministry isn’t obtained through showmanship; it’s accomplished through partnership…and the fostering of an environment where God can ‘water’ the saints in their 1 Corinthians 12 anointing. See the difference?

So if you’re hitting a wall in the area, ask yourself, ‘Am I trying to sustain results by an over-concentration of my spiritual giftings or am I looking to help others retain and reproduce truth?


‘Cause truth is: God gave everyone different gifts for a reason. I know for church leaders we tend to assume the church is a customized stage, but once we realize it’s actually a distribution center designed for all people to discover their identity and calling in Christ, our place of influence will sync up to a place of power as well.

My advice: ask the Lord to purify your motives…and to grow your fearlessness in connecting with people. Trust me: I know it can be easy to hide behind the podium; however, if you truly want to reach people, then you must commit to meeting them where they’re at so they can better see the kind of life they’re meant to live. That’s what reproducibility is all about.

2) Simplify the process – While this may seem painfully rudimentary, for a ministry to be reproducible, it’s fair to say it must be…remember-able (or re-memorable), right?

Unfortunately, I find many who think sound teaching is directly proportional to how “deep” and sacerdotal the content is. Yet, when we look at Jesus’ approach in his ministry, we find him using familiar language and relatable illustrations to drive home his points. In other words, Jesus didn’t aim his words over people’s heads; instead, he targeted their hearts for the sake of life change. So when I say “simplify the process”, what I’m really talking about is doing whatever we can to enable our word and effort to take root …whether we’re teaching people how to pick up their cross, follow Jesus, and fish for men…or using specialized planning apps like Evernote/Evernote web clipper/Penultimate/Logos Bible in tandem to better content construction.


My advice: integrate point #1 into point #2 (i.e. speak less, share more, and partnership everything). You’ll find the more you do so, the more you’ll develop into the koinonia leader1 you were called to be.

3) Stir the rising generation – While I could spend many a post talking about following Christ and what real change looks like, it’s all moot if we neglect the fact that mission assumes “3” 2  (i.e. to the third generation) and daily testifies the Gospel. Again, if we’re more concerned about our own flavor and style (as if you could put a patent on it), then we’re not going to come close to inspiring the emerging generation; if anything, the rising youth of our nation are sharp enough to smell inauthenticity a mile away. Yet, if we want to leave a reproducible legacy, then it’s imperative we view and live discipleship as God generation sees it and how Jesus executed it.

My advice: integrate point #2 into point #3 by allowing God do His part in wooing people to His heart and by being 100% responsible for the role He’s given you (i.e. surrendering, obeying, yielding…prepping in advance…preaching through books/genres of the Bible often, etc.3) You’ll find as long as you consecrate your focus  on empowering young people to speak the truth in love in the way God has you, He’ll make fruitful your effort.

Footnotes

1. Thanks to Marty Duren for this point’s inspiration.
2. Shout-out once again to Jim Harris.
3. Case and point: our youth group is going studying the parables through the storytelling method)

Cover photo designed through Canva
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