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Experice 6 – Who is God Calling and Gifting us to Serve?

This is the sixth prayer experience designed for small groups (6-9 people) who are seeking God’s visions for their congregation’s future. Prior experiences are posted onn this blog under the “Prayer & Share Cluster” catagory.

GATHERING (5 Minutes)
– Gathered in a circle, holding hands, allow each member the opportunity to offer a sentence prayer to God, asking for guidance in discerning his voice.

BUILDING UNDERSTANDING THROUGH CONVERSATION (25 Minutes)
At the conclusion of session three, you were challenged in the following manner:
As you drive to church, to work, and to all the other activities and tasks in which you are involved, give special attention to the surroundings you pass through. Make mental notes of who you see, what you see, and needs of any kind that are readily observed – and even those not so readily observed. Keep notes of what you observed and how God might be calling you and the church to be a neighbor to our community.

In the next several moments, compile your list of needs in your community.

Which of these needs seem most pressing?

How are these needs being address by religious, social, and civic groups?

Which of these needs are mostly unmet?

Now let’s change course a bit and explore another issue. In her book, Catch: Attracting and Connecting Visitors, Debi Williams Nixon writes, “When looking for a church, people initially are consumers. They want to know ‘what’s in it for me?”

Put yourselves into the shoes of people in our community and answer the following questions:

What might draw person to this church?

What would a new attendee experience in this church?

Without putting down other congregations, what would be different or unique about our church when compared with other churches in our nearby community?

What is special, unique, or exceptional about our congregation?

What ministerial and missional gifts, resources, attitudes, and passions are evident in this church?

Prepare a list about why people might need our particular church.

Now compare the two list compiled above. What surprises you? Are we serving the needs in our community? What implications does this have for our ministry? Are our ministries shaped more by community needs or by what is most comfortable for those inside the church?

As a group, share WHO you sense God has uniquely CALLED AND IS GIFTING us to serve as a congregation. (Notice that the phrase is not “gifted us” to serve, but “GIFTING us to serve.” God’s gifting is an ongoing process. The scripture teaching that when we are faithful to God with what we’ve been given, God will expand our resources so we can serve Him even more. See Matthew 25:14-30)

Our challenge, then, is to see the needs of people that we can meet today, as well as the call of God to become equipped to meet needs that are currently beyond our resources.

In either case, however, the people and needs we are called to address are those (and only those) that God places before us. So, once again, as a group, WHO you sense God has uniquely CALLED AND IS GIFTING us to serve as a congregation.

Who is God calling & gifting us to serve?

DEEPENING OUR UNDERSTANDING THROUGH GOD’S WORD AND CONNECTING THROUGH PERSONAL APPLICATION (25 Minutes)

In the sixteenth century, during the Protestant Reformation, the church recognized the doctrine “the priesthood of every believer.” Then it was primarily understood to mean that every Christian could stand before God under grace without the mediation of a “priest.”

In our day, many (especially in Baptist theology) are viewing this doctrine with the understanding that “every member” of Christ’s body is gifted by God “to minister to others as priests (or servants).”

Our church is called by God to be ministers/servants/priest to those in our mission field. Below are several statements with supporting scriptures that address this biblical understanding that we are, as Baptist theologian Carlyle Marney has said, “Priests to one another.” Select one statement and text and reflect on how it informs Marney’s notion that we are “Priest to one another.”

In what ways are we serving our world as one of God’s “Priests” (servants)?

In what ways is God calling us to move forward as His servants in our world?

During the next week, cluster group members are asked prayerfully reflect each day on one of these statements and the supporting scriptures.

Ministry is an act of worship – Romans 12:1-6

God has a unique call for our church – Ephesians 2:10, 1 Peter 2:5, 9-10, Jeremiah 1:4-5

God gifts (or equips) us to fulfill our call – I Peter 4:10-11, Psalm 139:13-16

Individual gifts are to be used through the church to serve – I Corinthians 12:4-2, 18

The more intimate we are with Christ, the more we will serve – John 15:12-17

Spiritual growth occurs as we serve – James 1:22-25, 27, 2:14-17

Leaders equip others – they don’t do ministry for them – Ephesians 4:11-16

PRAYING OUT LOUD FOR EACH OTHER AND FOR THE CONGREGATION (10 Minutes)
In a minute or two of silence reflection, think about what you have discussed this session about our mission field and how we are called to be God’s “Priests” to this community. Who do you feel particularly burden to serve?
Each member should pray aloud, asking God to reveal to our congregation three things. First, we are called to serve. Second, we are gifted to serve. Third, ask God to reveal to our church WHO we are call and gifted to serve.

COMMITTING TO ACTION
In the week ahead, engage in one act of ministry/service for somebody outside our church.

RECORDING WHAT WE ARE HEARING FROM GOD AND EACH OTHER
Each cluster group is asked to appoint a “scribe” who will prepare a “group report” of what the group believed it heard (discerned) from God. These reports should be submitted to the pastor immediately after your session and will be used by the “initiating leadership team” for consideration in the preparing the congregation’s “Future Story.”

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