Posts in the “Theology of Volunteerism”
Posts in the “Greater Works” Series
Posts in the “Ministry Trends” Series
Are People Still Volunteering?
Families: A Help or Hindrance to Ministry Service?
Do I Owe My Soul to the Company Store?
Motivational Shift: Why people volunteer
Connection Failure: From Community to “Me-ism”
Habitat for Humanity: Friend or Foe?
Posts in the “Four Hurdles” Series
Post in the “Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit” Series
Intro- The Tragic Neglect of Spiritual Gifts
What are spiritual gifts?
What is the purpose of spiritual gifts?
Who has spiritual gifts?
Spiritual Gift Nuggets (from 1 Cor 12, Rom 12, and Eph 4)
A Quick Guide to Gift Discovery
Posts in the “5 Things” Series
Posts from “The Grammatically-Correct Church” Series
Posts in the “Theology of Volunteerism”
I love a good project- one that is challenging and has an eternal value. In the last three years, the Holy Spirit has given me a project. In the midst of my doctoral studies, He revealed to me a need in the church. The Spirit used faculty and mentors to guide me into a great opportunity for study and research. The initial project (that culminated in a degree) has not been transformed into an on-going personal quest to discover more about how God uses His people to accomplish His ministry.
My greatest desire in ministry is to see others glorifying God by serving with joy and effectively working to edify the Body of Christ. Therefore in this project, I have sought to gain an understanding of the equipping work of the Holy Spirit in believers for ministry. In the research process, I have discovered that spiritual gifts are the tools, but the sole factor in ministry joy and effectiveness is the comprehensive work of the Holy Spirit. The theory that emerged within this project can be called “Spirit-led Connecting.”
Before diving into the theory itself, I will give a brief overview of the research method. Instead of developing an idea and testing it through a ministry project, I sought an inductive method. I wanted to discover the factors involved with a phenomenon: some Christians are serving with a high degree of joy and effectiveness in ministry positions for an extended period of time. I conducted in-depth interviews with participants that met stringent criteria. These participants provided significant insight into ministry dynamics, especially on the topic of spiritual gifts. From this data, a theory emerged and is currently being tested. Pastors were also consulted regarding their agreement with the theory. The conclusions were validated by experts in the field of volunteer ministry. Now, I am continuing to research the many aspects of the theory and interview more church leaders about this phenomenon.
Spirit-led Connecting will operate from a theory that has emerged in the process of this study. The theory in summary is: “The Holy Spirit may lead believers into ministry by revealing a need and through the guidance of a church leader.” Once the person begins to serve, he or she may see the results of positive life-change in others and the Holy Spirit will confirm the believer’s spiritual gift for this ministry. I will dissect this theory by isolating four interrelated aspects.
The first aspect involves the call to ministry. The Holy Spirit leads believers into ministry (that results in joyful and effective service) by revealing a need to the believer that ignites a desire to serve. A Spirit-led ministry begins and continually depends on the leading of the Holy Spirit. Within the believer, God stirs the heart and desire of a person, who yields to His Will, toward an area of need in the Body. Every believer fits uniquely into the Body and God knows exactly which piece of the puzzle is missing. This is not a mystery to be solved, but a decision to be discerned through prayer. Spirit-led Connecting in a local church can assist in this discernment by making the ministry opportunities and needs accessible to the congregation on a regular basis.
The second aspect involves affirmation. A believer in Christ may serve with effectiveness and joy in ministry when he or she is invited by a church leader to serve. The Holy Spirit will direct church leaders to those He is calling to fill areas of service. A Spirit-led ministry has a foundation of leadership that is continuously depending on the Holy Spirit’s guidance. The Spirit will reveal to His called leaders people to enlist- those He is prompting to serve. Leadership offers clarity in direction and application of the call for a believer. Church leaders could benefit from training and biblical instruction in Spirit-led Connecting to sharpen the awareness and understanding of how the Holy Spirit leads people in ministry.
The third aspect involved ones confirmation in ministry service. A believer in Christ will discover a spiritual gift within the context of ministry that enables him or her to serve with joy and effectiveness. The Holy Spirit will confirm the gift in the midst of service. While many are instructed to seek to discern his or her giftedness prior to ministry involvement, this was not the testimony of the participants in this project. They simply came to understand their giftedness as a result of their involvement. The Holy Spirit will confirm within a person that he or she is within the will of God. A Spirit-led Connecting ministry will give believers the opportunity to test various ministry areas, possibly through an event or for a short season.
The fourth aspect evaluates the effectiveness of a believer in ministry service. Believers may be personally strengthened and encouraged when they see the results of their service (positive life-change in others). This is a means by which the Holy Spirit confirms spiritual gifts for service that is joyful and effective. A Spirit-led ministry will produce spiritual results. Lives will be changed. While these results will vary in appearance, the efforts of the believer will be rewarded by the Spirit because of the difference it makes in others. A Spirit-led Connecting will set strategic and realistic goals that are discipleship-oriented and will measure results of eternal investment, not temporal success. Church leaders will also provide affirmation and encouragement regarding this aspect.
The word connecting summarizes the point of intersection for the four aspects of the theory. In Romans Twelve, the Bible states that we connect with God’s will through service. First Corinthians Twelve says that believers are connected to each others as the Body of Christ. Ephesians Four instructs leaders to connect to believers within the fellowship as mentors, training and equipping individuals for ministry. The fourteenth chapter of John connects the Holy Spirit to the “greater works” that God wants to accomplish through His people. The Holy Spirit is leading believers at every point of the connecting. Each believer is a minister in a particular way and has the potential to be used by God to change the lives of others.