Category Archives: Spiritual Gifts test

Be A Wounded Healer

Have you ever noticed that in our lives some truths that seem to grab us more than others. It becomes a passion, a cause, a crusade in our life. For me one of those truths is the personal ministry of the each Christian. I deeply believe that each of us has been called as a minister of Jesus Christ. Now you may be wondering, when I say the word “minister” what do I mean? In the Biblical language the word “minister” means servant. Each of us is called to be a minister or to serve God out of our own uniqueness. Unfortunately the term has been lost in today’s church. We no longer think of “minister” in the terms of everyone’s role as a “servant” of Christ but instead relegate the role of Minister to that of a Pastor. That is a person who has a “special call’ who has been to seminary and oversees a church. But this is far from what God intended. Now certainly God has called Pastors to ministry. We all know and deeply believe that God has ordained Pastor Howard to be the shepherd of this church. In fact Paul says in Ephesians 4: 11-12

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,

Here is the interesting point, the verse says; to prepare God’s people for works of service,

Paul is saying that a Pastor has the role of helping equip members of the church to be ministers! Yes, God created you and I to be His representatives here on earth. In Romans 12:1-8, Paul again is writing about that fact that each of us should be ministering in the unique way that God has wired us. He writes:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

IN  VERSE SIX Paul continues:

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. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 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.

God has created each of us to minister differently. Let me ask YOU… Have you come to a point in your life where you really believe that God has called you to be a minister or servant of His?

The fact is that most of those attending Sunday services in churches across America do not really grasp this fact. Yet the secular world understands it. As more and more people do not attend church people are doing good deeds through their work. A group of us went to the Greater Chicago Food Depository and had a wonderful time. It was interesting, we worked side by side with a group from the Chicago Tribune. Max Dupree, Chairman Emeritus of Herman Miller, Board Member of Hope College and author encourages secular people to get involved doing good. In his book, Leading Without Power Max Dupree writes:

Make the choice to serve others, for it is truly is a choice we all have. Make the choice to subordinate personal desires to a common good. Make room for spiritual matters, for more and more people in the United States are realizing just how necessary a spiritual dimension is to becoming a complete person. Nonprofit organizations and their spirit-lifting work have become a vital source of understanding. Non-profits and their commitment to moral purpose are strategic instruments of hope in our society and our world.

Having been in secular fundraising I have seen this non-profit rhetoric become more and more prevalent. The world is becoming of the mindset that it doesn’t need the church. In their eyes we aren’t making a difference. Many times when the world sees a problem the church is not their first choice in looking for a solution. It is ironic that the world looks to service as a way to get in touch with their spirituality while many who have true spirituality in Jesus Christ will not serve!

Part of the trouble is that we aren’t sure what we should do, so today I want to share one easy way that each of us can get involved in life-giving ministry. Each of us can minister to others by being God’s messenger. We can simply share with those around us how God has helped us in our life circumstances. God wants you and I to bear witness that He is real, that He helps us with real problems and has real answers to our needs. This is reaching out and helping others in need in the same way God reached out and helped us.

Look at today’s passage in Psalms 71. In this chapter we read about the real problems that the Psalmist is having; yet there is hope given in the middle of all the turmoil in life.

In verses 10 and 11 he writes;
 For my enemies speak against me; those who wait to kill me conspire together. They say, “God has forsaken him;
 
And yet listen as the Psalmist shares about God’s faithfulness.
But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.

He continues by writing:
 
My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long,
though I know not its measure. I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, O Sovereign LORD; I will proclaim your righteousness, yours alone. Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.
Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.

This is our call. This is the quest that God has for us,  that we might be that life giving community that gives the next generation that chance to know, grow, serve and share Christ.

Here is the question: Are we reaching to the new generation with the story of God’s love? Are we sharing like the Psalmist, about the wonderful relationship we have with Jesus?
The fact is that most of us struggle with sharing with others. It’s not because we don’t know how to share.

We know how to share and express ourselves.
We can share all about sports.
We can talk about business.
If you want us to share, just ask us about our children or grandchildren.
We can recommend automobiles to complete strangers with confidence.
We can defend our political view and please don’t even get us started about our favorite foods.

We can share about all kinds of topics but when it comes to talking about Jesus we don’t know what to say. We aren’t experiencing the freedom that we should in sharing about the love of Christ.

I have struggled with this for many years. Part of the problem is that we have made witnessing so complicated. I believe it is because we are trying to be something we are not. We feel we have to be “perfect” in order to share. We think, “Who am I?” or we think, “I’m not moral enough, they would think that I am a hypocrite.”  The problem is that we have this image that in order to “share” about Christ we have to be on a pedestal. A Christian without flaw, imperfections or struggles. Where did this come from?  We come to God as a sinner and get gloriously saved but over time something happens. We forget about God’s grace and start to live a life of an imposter. For many of us we were raised in the faith and we often take God’s grace for granted. Instead we have an internal scorekeeper. We keep track of our life using the distorted belief that real Christians don’t sin or have any troubles. We have illusions that everything must go the way we plan and that nothing will ever go wrong. Worst yet we try to live up to what we believe are other people’s expectations. We know that our salvation was by grace but when we do sin, or when something does go wrong in our life we end up feeling defeated. We die to the daily joy that Christ has for us. We begin to harbor deep dark secrets. We put on a false self not just toward others but soon toward God himself. Week after week we come to services with our “church face” on. We smile and pretend that all is well in our life and don’t dare share about our struggles. Well if we have a hard time sharing here at church how would we ever share to our neighbors or people we work with?
The truth is, there are no perfect people in the church! No you, not I! We are not and never will be perfect, so let’s quit pretending. Instead we need to be authentic.
What do we need to do to be an authentic witness and minister of Christ? There are at least three things. First we must recognize and embrace our brokenness. Second we must accept and apply God’s grace to every one of the wounds in our life.  Finally, we must then go forth as wounded healers into the world ministering to those around us.

The first thing that we need to do to become an authentic witness and minister of Christ is to recognize and embrace our brokenness.
 
In Romans 7:21 – 25  Paul shares his own struggles between living in his broken carnal state and the Spirit-filled life. Paul writes:

So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Paul recognized the struggle with his carnal sinful nature, but he did not stop there. In the very next verse Paul shouts out his marvelous declaration of independence. He writes:

There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Notice that Paul didn’t say victory came in sinless perfection.” There are no perfect people in the church. No he admits his struggles. Instead He shares about the solution He finds in Christ. Paul writes that there is no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus.
 He explains why He can say this in verse 15: Paul writes:

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

You see Paul could accept his brokenness, because He embraced His belovedness.

Paul did not shrink from writing about his struggles. Instead he shared about them and then described how he gets victory. This is the model of ministry that we see over and over in Paul’s writing.

Brennan Manning in his book, Abba’s Child shares a story of Mike Yaco-nelli, the cofounder of Youth Specialties, who struggled with this very issue.

Mike Yaco-nelli went on a retreat to come to grips with his spiritual staleness. After time spent in solitude Yaco-nelli writes of his soul’s realization of his brokenness. He writes;

God had been trying to shout over the noisiness of my life and I couldn’t hear Him, but in the silence of solitude I heard Him and my slumbering soul was filled with the joy of the prodigal son. My soul was awakened by a loving father who had been looking and waiting for me. Finally, I had accepted my brokenness. – I had never come to terms with that. Let me explain. I knew that I was broken. I knew I was a sinner. I knew I continually disappointed God, but I could never accept that part of me. It was a part of me that embarrassed me, I continually felt the need to apologize, to run from my weakness to deny who I was and concentrate on what I should be. I was broken, yes, but I was continually trying never to be broken again – or at least to get to the place where I was seldom broken.
Now it has become clear to me that I had totally misunderstood the Christian faith. I came to see that it was in my brokenness, in my powerlessness, in my weakness that Jesus was made strong. It was in the acceptance of my lack of faith that God could give me faith. In was in the embracing of my brokenness that I could identify with other people’s brokenness. It was my role to identify with others’ pain, not relieve it. Ministry is sharing, not dominating; understanding, not theologizing; caring, not fixing.

To be effective ministers of Christ we must recognize our brokenness. Paul was a real example of this. Throughout his ministry he suffered and faced many struggles. In writing in I Corinthian church he writes:

I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I have received from the Jews thirty nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea., I have been in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles, in danger in the city , in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep, I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.

Paul certainly knew what it was like to be broken; to live a life that was less than pristine, yet this did not negate him from the ministry. All the more he was able to identify with others and witness to them.

In Hebrews 11 we read of all the victorious living as a result of faith. Noah, Moses, Abraham, Joseph and others trusted God for great things and yet when we read the accounts of their lives we see hardships, difficulties and often times sin. You see God did not promise that this life was going to be perfect, that we would be without sin or any difficulties. What he did promise is that he would never leave us or forsake us. In Romans 8: 34 – 39 Paul writes:

If God is for us, who can be against us?- Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The fact is – all of us have struggles, non of us are perfect.

When I think of those who will be reading this I know that some of us will represent unimaginable suffering, pain, and heartbreak. The death of loved ones, personal illnesses, bankruptcies, divorce, addictions. How many of us have cried over our children, have had nights of terror or wrestled with anxiety and depression? In the midst of all of this, many of us have experienced the Peace of God that passes all understanding. And yet we ask,

How can I minister, how can I be a witness?
 
To answer that question all we have to do is to look around us.
In every street we passed, every house that we saw from the road on our way here this morning there were people looking for the same answers that you have. They have similar struggles that you and I have struggled with. At work we have fellow employees who are looking for the peace that we have. At our children’s soccer games the bleachers are full of parents who are suffering with many of the same problems that we have. Yet we do not share. Why is this?

Perhaps it is because we have not really made our peace with God. We have not embraced that in this life we will be broken. Instead of peace there is shame, guilt, anger, or remorse. We have not come fully back to Christ.

It was early on a Saturday morning that my twin brother called me. I will never forget the pain in his voice. “He’s gone” he screamed. “My Paul is gone.” In an instant Paul who was thirteen was swept away from this earth in a car accident. The pain that my brother experienced only a few of you in this audience can understand. For almost ten years my bother wrestled with God. He could function. He went to Church; he still prayed and even read the Bible. But deep in his heart he was broken and wounded. Year by year the pain was more bearable. When my own boy was hit by a car it was Rod who was the first to come to my comfort. He was able to enter into my fears.

I was speaking about a year ago in Detroit on Every Christian is a Minister and my brother Rod was there. He got up in the middle of the message and came back in about five minutes. Later that night he told me what happened. He explained that he was moved deep in his heart and that he had to get up. He went downstairs to the bathroom and cried out to God. “Finally He looked up to God and said, “I want back, I want to serve you again. It is time.” Rod allowed God to work deep in his heart and he is once again involved in live-giving ministry. He embraced his woundedness and moved toward his belovedness.
 
Not only must we embrace our brokenness, the second thing that we need to do in order to become the kind of witness that will reach out in the community around us is to accept and apply God’s grace for every one of the wounds in our life.

Brennan Manning has written a wonderful book on this very subject. It is called Abba’s Child. In his chapter called, Beloved, Brennan Manning shares the reflections of a teacher from Milwaukie who kept a marvelous journal on his walk with Christ. In his journal the teacher Eagen writes,

“The basis of my personal worth is not my processions, my talents, not esteem of others, reputation…not kudos of appreciation from parents and kids, not applause, and everyone telling you how important you are to the place –  I stand anchored now in God before whom I stand naked, this God who tells me, “you are my son, my beloved one!”
Brennan continues with his own commentary. He writes:

The ordinary self is the extraordinary self – the inconspicuous nobody who shivers in the cold of winter and sweats in the heat of summer, who wakes up unreconciled to the new day, who sits before a stack of pancakes, weaves through traffic, bangs around the basement, shops in the supermarket, pulls weeds and rakes up the leaves, makes snowballs, flies kites and listens to the sound of rain in the roof.
While the imposter draws his identity from past achievements and the adulation of others, the true self claims identity in it’s belovedness.”

The trouble is that many of us have a hard time believing that God loves us. I mean really loves us.

Oh we believe that God so loved the world that He gave His son that whosoever believes has eternal life. We believe God can love us enough to die for our sins, but once we become a Christian we soon forget about His unconditional love. We know nothing of the everyday celebration of being a broken, sinful, human who is loved by God in spite of our imperfection.  Brennan Manning continues in his chapter by writing:

“Our controlled frenzy creates the illusion of a well-ordered existence. We move from crisis to crisis, responding to the urgent and neglecting the essential. We still walk around. We still perform all the gestures and actions identified as human, but we resemble people carried along on the mechanical sidewalk of an airport. The fire in the belly dies. We no longer hear the inward music of our belovedness.

My friends, this is not the way Jesus wants us to live. Instead He says to us
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
We need to come to Jesus knowing our woundedness and accept His daily love and assistance in our lives.

Paul shares another example of this in I Corinthians 5:5, 7 – 9. He writes;

For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 

Paul admits that he has struggles. He admits that he is suffering, but he doesn’t leave it there. He also experience the grace and love of Christ in his life. He shares of God’s power that even though he is pressed in on every side he is not crushed. Even though he admits he is perplexed, Christ helps him overcome being despaired. Finally, he shares that he is persecuted but not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed. This is what people are looking for. They are looking for a God who helps us in the nitty-gritty of life.

The author of Hebrews shares in chapter 4: 14 – 16 how we can accept our brokenness and belovedness:

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Paul goes farther and shares how the struggles that you and I face, the brokenness that we experience in this life can actually allow us to minister more effectively for Christ.
Paul writes in Romans 5: 3-5
We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Again Paul shares in II Corinthians 12: 7 – 10
To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Paul also warns us that our struggle not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Paul then admonishes us to put on the full armor of God. Two of the best books I have read on this subject is Victory over Darkness and Bondage Breaker by Neil Anderson. These books can help you walk with Christ and experience freedom in many of the difficulties that we experience. We are looking forward to doing some indebt study of these books. If you are interested please let us know.

This brings up our third point. We are to share with others as Wounded Healers

Yes we are broken and sinful even as Christians, but it is Christ’ love, the fact that we are His beloved that gives us hope. It is His love that moves us into this point number three. Christ sends us forth, not as perfect, pious, holier than thou crusaders but rather as wounded healers showing others who are wounded how to be healed. It is one beggar showing another beggar where the bread is.

Again, Brennan Manning in his book, Abba’s Child. He writes:
In a futile attempt to erase our past, (or I would add our presence) we deprive our community of our healing gift. If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor become a light for others. Instead we need to become what Henri Nouwen calls Wounded Healers. The wounded healer implies that grace and healing are communicated through the vuneralibility of men and women who have been fractured and heartbroken by life. In Love’s service only wounded soldiers can serve.

The Holy Spirit gives each of us the ability to be wounded healers. Paul shares in
Romans 8: 26 – 28

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. – And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, whohave been called according to his purpose.

This passage give us comfort. God wants us to share this comfort with others. In
II Corth. 1: 3 –5 Paul shares:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in our troubles, so we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

Again Brennan Manning shares:
 Our impulse to tell the salvation story arises from listening to the heartbeat of the risen Jesus within us. Telling the story does not require that we become ordained ministers or flamboyant street corner preachers. It does not demand that we try to convert people by concussion with one sledgehammer blow of the Bible after another. It simply means we share with others what our lives used to be like, what happened when we met Jesus, and how Jesus is affecting our lives now.

In I Peter 3:15 Peter writes;
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.

One of the best wounded healers I have ever know was Mr. Van. I was fifteen when I first met him. I was speaking at a church and he asked if we wanted to bring our Christian Club to come and help him with a children’s mission. I was overwhelmed by this man’s love, can do attitude. For two years I took ten to thirty-five young people to minister there every Wednesday and Thursday evening. When I started at Wayne State University I decided to live at the mission and work for my room and board.  This is when I really saw him in action. I also learned about his life. He was a successful accountant but had become an alcoholic. He caused his whole family to suffer. One day he became gloriously saved and was free from the pain of alcoholism. Unfortunately he had so severely alienated his family he was not able to win them back.  He lived along and ministered to all the hurting and suffering children in one of the most destitute sections of Detroit. God had taken his woundedness and allowed Gil to see his belovedness. In this realization he went out and ministered to hundreds of families in the same way God had helped him.
When we would lead singing at the children’s mission we would often ask them to shout our their favorite song. I remember so many times that Mr. Van would compete with the children shouting “ No One Ever Cared For Me Like Jesus” 
The author of that song, Charles Weigle was an itinerant evangelist.  One day after preaching at a gospel crusade, he came home to find a note from his wife.  She did not care for the life she led because of being an evangelist’s wife and she was leaving him.  The next few years were a time of despair for Weigle.  He wondered if anyone really cared for him, let alone God.  After a time, his faith was again restored and he became active for the Lord again.  During this time he wanted to put to paper a song that would share the feelings he had experienced while during his despondent days.  From his heart came the words and the tune for this hymn. It goes like this:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I would love to tell you what I think of Jesus
Since I found in Him a friend so strong and true;
I would tell you how He changed my life completely –
He did something that no other friend could do.
chorus:
No one ever cared for me like Jesus;
There’s no other friend so kind as He;
No one else could take the sin and darkness from me –
O how much He cared for me!

Let me ask you, are you willing to be a wounded healer? Are you willing to share with others the way God has helped you? Today, surrender yourself to Jesus to be His minister. All you need to be is a wounded healer!

_______________________________________________________________________ 

Serve in the way God has wired you? Use your skills, passions, experiences? CLICK HERE to download your FREE copy of How Am I Wired For Ministry?

Do you know what your Spiritual Gifts are? If not CLICK HERE to download your FREE copy of a Spiritual Gifts Test and Workbook. 

 

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Determining Your Ministry Preference?

What Is My Ministry Preference?

 I can hear you now, “Do you mean I get to choose a ministry that I really want to do?” In this day when the only way to fill a need in the church is to spend hours on the phone trying to recruit someone, it seems rare that we are given a choice of where we really want to minister. Usually we have to fill a need that no one else will. Even if we go to a church that promotes volunteerism, often the choices are outside our interests or we don’t know how to choose what is right for us. The purpose of this book is to help the church, by equipping you to volunteer, to take the initiative and find or create a ministry that will best use who you are to the glory of God. The church is ripe with opportunity just waiting for the congregations across this country to take ownership of ministry.

What Ministry Is Best For You?
Vocational testing is a huge business today. Companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year trying to save on the billions of dollars lost in mis-hires. Some of the best tests are based on extensive research. Researchers find people in certain vocational fields and ask them for information on themselves. Interests, college majors, personality traits and other critical data is all gathered. The information is then studied looking for variables and commonalities. The goal is to extrapolate from the studies what are major predictors for someone going into the same field. From this tests are created. These tests are then given to people in the field and these test scores are studied. The goal is to come up with a high percentage of correlation between the test scores and certain vocations.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could give you a test to help you decide on a ministry? It certainly would be much easier for us to take the results of your tests and say, “Based on other people with your same profile you would be best at…” That would be it. You could close this book and we could sleep at night thinking that we have done our job. The problem is none of the vocational tests are anywhere near 100% predictive of your final result.  The best they can do is to show you what you could be good at. You may score high in science and math; therefore, they can predict that you would be good as a chemist, but they cannot tell you that you will be a chemist. Final results are much more complicated than that.
 To make it even more difficult, for most of us, our ministry is voluntary. This opens up so many more variables. For example, a good vocational test may say that you would be good in a medical profession. Let’s say that the vocational test was right. You indeed have chosen a medical field. You work long hours as a nurse. But that doesn’t mean that you want to have a medical ministry, too. By the time your shift is over, the last thing you want to do is volunteer at a clinic. Besides, your vocation may only tap into one of your passions. It may be that you would much prefer a music ministry. This is why we have created a preference test. Because of the complexities in helping people discover a ministry, we find it most beneficial if we help you with different processes of selection and elimination. Our goal is to help you figure out what ministries, at this point in time, you would prefer to be involved in.

What Is A Preference?
What makes you prefer one ministry over another? Many times it’s things that are totally unpredictable. Given a chance to choose, there are a myriad of reasons why we may prefer one ministry over another. It could be the level of perceived need, the leadership, circumstances, the team participating, your schedule or any one of hundreds of other variables. We have taken some of the more common variables and have broken them into three levels of consideration.

First Consideration-Seeing The Need
 One of the biggest considerations in choosing to get involved in a ministry is seeing the need. Notice that it is “seeing” the need. Need alone isn’t enough. Somehow the need has to make it into our consciousness and create a response.  What was the story of the Good Samaritan if not to illustrate that even “religious and seemingly moral leaders” can ignore an obvious need. 
 In 1964 in Queens, New York there was a crime that caught the attention of the whole country. It was the  stabbing death of Kitty Genovese. She was chased by her assailant for over half an hour and attacked viciously three times. But what made this so horrific, was the fact that there were 38 bystanders that saw the whole thing and not one of them called the police or helped rescue Kitty.  I remember the news story. America was in shock. Articles were printed in papers all across our country about the apathy that our overcrowded urban lifestyle had created.
 I can’t help but make the comparison to the church today. All around us are urban areas with great needs. Right in our own community are people that are lonely, hurting and not knowing Christ and yet as a church we are almost non-existent. We have absolved ourselves from social responsibility. Are there so many needs, so many activities, so many other things clamoring for our attention that we have become apathetic toward those that need our help? Malcolm Gladwell, the  author of The Tipping Point, suggests that there may be another reason for not reacting to the hurting needs of people around us.
 Gladwell writes about the research of two New York psychologists who tried to better understand what they called the “bystander problem.” They staged “accidents” and observed how groups of people would react. They watched the different variables and gathered information about each incident.  When they were through, one critical factor stood out. The one factor that seemed to make the biggest difference to whether a person would act or not, was the amount of people witnessing the event. They found that when people felt that others were watching, that someone else would take responsibility for what was happening. The more people witnessing the event the less a person felt that they needed to act. According to their research, responsibility for action gets diffused in large groups. The psychologist’s conclusion was that if Kitty Genovese’s attack was seen by only one or two people, it is probable that she may still be alive today!
 When I first read this account, I realized that this may help explain why we can have so many churches in America and yet still are not making a social or moral impact. Could it be that many of us don’t react to the needs around us because we feel someone else is doing something about it? Or do we really  believe that solving our spiritual, moral and social problems in this country is going to be done by someone else? Do we think that we are absolved from our responsibility to respond to the cries of those around us because there are so many listening? May God wake us up from this false thinking!
 I’m sure that some of those that heard the screams of Kitty Genovese were apathetic. No doubt, some were cynical, others too busy to stop, but chances are that most of those thirty-eight bystanders would have helped had they really known no one else was going to. They did not see the need, they did not perceive the criticalness of the situation.
 Now you and I cannot respond to every need around us, but we can allow the Lord to guide us and make us aware of those needs that we can help. There are two things that you and I can do that will allow us and our church to make a bigger difference in the community around us.

Step 1—Become a Need Finder
 First, we must commit ourself, as an individual and as a church, to be a “need finder”. We need to go out into the community and see it as Jesus sees it. We claim to know Christ yet we know nothing of His compassion and love for those around us. We need to do prayer walks, surveys, talk to people, read the paper, talk to the police and town officials. What are the needs? What are the needs today and what do we anticipate the needs will be in the future?
 What are the needs of the people in community, our neighborhoods  or the needs of the people that we work with? Make finding needs in the surrounding communities a church project. Create a bulletin board with lists, put suggestion boxes out  for people to put needs in, hand out cards to be filled out and put in the offertory. Get every small group and every Sunday school class involved. From the elementary student to the oldest member of the church, everyone must become a “need finder”. Make finding needs the top priority of the church for a month or maybe two.  The results will astound you. You will be amazed at the stories, the energy, the excitement as people uncover more and more needs. It will also break your heart. When is the last time we were broken hearted over the needs of our community? As we all start to see needs as Jesus does and we enlarge our list, we can move to the second phase, that is finding out what needs we should work with.

Step 2—Decide what needs we should work on 
 The second step to meeting needs is to decide what needs we should work with, both as a church and as individuals.  As we look over the list, we can begin to find out if others in the community are meeting the needs or not. This will allow us to become more aware of the circumstances around us and hopefully keep us from “assuming” that someone else is going to take care of the problem.
 We can let God speak to our hearts and begin to get a feel for what is “moving” us. Then we can do what good managers do.  We can do something about those needs that we feel we must, we can delay action on those that can wait,  we can defer or delegate some of the needs to other people, groups, churches or agencies that are already involved or more capable than us,  or if the need is already being met (or was not a real need in the first place) we can decide to drop the item.  
 The beauty of this system is that it takes responsibility to see that the real needs are attended to, by us or someone else. Can you imagine if every church, in every community worked together like this? What a witness we would have.

Second Consideration – What Can I Do To Make A Difference?
 It stands to reason that you will be happiest, and the most fulfilled, if your ministry preferences complement the way you are wired for ministry. Not only you, but the ministry will benefit too! If given a choice, it makes sense to minister in a way that best suits who you are.
 When looking over the lists of ministries that we have later in this workbook, it would be good to ask yourself:

 What ministries would use my Spirituals gift(s)?

 What ministries work with the causes that I am passionate about?

 What ministries seem to fit my skills and background?
  
 What could I picture myself doing that would get me out of bed on a Saturday morning?
 
 God has created us for ministry that takes full advantage of who we are, a ministry that uses  our skills, our likes, our Spiritual gifts and our desires. Let’s spend some time considering what those ministries would be.

Choosing a Ministry 
 So how does this work? How do we choose a ministry? We do it by considering the needs around us and matching them with our skills, abilities, spiritual gifts, experiences and preferences. We do this in an attitude of prayer, asking God to guide us and give us wisdom.  We have two tests for you to participate in. The first is a Ministry Preference Self-Assessment. We have listed ministries in broad categories for you to consider.  It will be the broad category that will first attract your attention. Within the category are many suggestions of types of roles that you could participate in. This is where your interests can be determined.
For Example
 The first category is Youth Ministry. Youth work may appeal to you so you pause to look at some of the suggestions of types of ministry within Youth Ministry. For the sake of an example, let’s say that you are already happy in a vocation so that rules out being a youth pastor. However, there are many other choices left. You see “retreat volunteer” and “church youth task committee member” and think, “Yes, these ministries really appeal to me.”  You would then circle both ministries and where it says “Your Score”, you would write an 8, 9 or 10 depending on how strong you felt about those ministries.
 If the different ministries listed on the test are close but made you think of something else you would prefer, that is not written down, by all means write down your suggestion and then score the larger category of Youth Ministry appropriately.  Scoring Youth Ministry high does not mean you want to do everything associated with the category. It means that the category is important to you and that there are specific ministries, as indicated, that you are very interested in.

Ministry Preference Self Assessment
Below is the list of church and local para-church ministries. Does the paragraph pretty well describe your feelings? Do any of the areas of service interest you? Please rate yourself on a scale 1 –5 (1 = Not at all, 5 = Very much so) and circle the ministries that you are interested in or add ministries of your own.

Youth Ministry (1)
 You like to work with young people. You believe in the great need for leaders and role models. You want to see the best programs for the young people and are willing to help any way you can. You relate well with teenagers and have their respect. You know about  adolescence; the fears, temptations, the struggles. You are willing to be patient, loving and pray for them.

Areas Of Ministry:
 Jr. high, high school or college age Sunday school teacher; youth director; youth counselor; Christian school teacher; camp counselor; youth night chaperone; host for youth activity; prayer supporter; church youth task committee member; retreat volunteer; games coordinator; volunteer on youth nights; driver to events; life skills mentor; tutor; support to parent/teen conflicts; drug counselor; big brother/sister; adolescent/family counselor; college/ career guidance counselor.

Using a  scale of  1 – 5, rate whether you feel you would like to serve in this ministry (1 = Not at all, 5 = Very much so)  

Your Score ______

Children’s Work (2)
 Children are our future. You love to be with children and help them experience the love of Jesus. You have patience and a good sense of humor. Children like to be around you. You know about the different developmental stages and are able to help the child grow. You know how hard the parenting process is and feel great empathy for the parent(s).

Areas Of Ministry:
 Sunday school teacher; Christian Education Supervisor; nursery attendant; Christian pre-school or elementary school teacher; song leader; games director; VBS volunteer; Bible Club worker; MOPS volunteer; day care specialist; teacher; special education worker; pediatric medicine, child psychologist; family counselor; respite care.

Using a  scale of  1 – 5, rate whether you feel you would like to serve in this ministry (1 = Not at all, 5 = Very much so)  

Your Score ______

Evangelism (3)
 You are burdened for the lost and  believe in being proactive with the sharing of the Gospel. You are willing to share your testimony, share the plan of salvation, distribute literature, whatever it takes. Your house is a place where you participate in friendship evangelism. You believe in reaching the community by helping them through need-based evangelism. At work you share the love of Christ through your life and in appropriate ways. You try to be a witness in the way you live so not to bring reproach against Christ. You feel the church should reach out to the neighborhood and are willing to help anyway that you can. You are burdened for the lost throughout the world.

Areas Of Ministry:
 Be on a church evangelism team; mission committee; set up literature distribution; teach evangelism; be a greeter at church, do visitation with new visitors; participate in door to door distribution of  literature on the church and/or gospel literature; do evangelistic preaching; work in community projects, meeting needs and sharing testimony; lead prayer meetings for evangelistic revival; work with other churches about area wide evangelistic campaign; support ministries that evangelize; assist the church with different evangelistic tools such as radio, literature and video.

Using a  scale of  1 – 5, rate whether you feel you would like to serve in this ministry (1 = Not at all, 5 = Very much so)  

Your Score ______

Visitation Of Sick And Elderly (4)
 Your heart goes out to those who are shut in; you enjoy listening to people’s personal stories; you enjoy keeping people “caught up” with current events of the church; you have studied the development stages of aging and empathize with their situation; you find great joy in taking meals, helping house clean or doing yard work for those that can’t; you don’t mind taking someone to the store, to the hairdressers or out to eat somewhere; even though it breaks your heart you count it a privilege to pray for those that are dying and bring comfort anyway you can; you have a respect for those that have lived a full life and try to maintain dignity in their life, anyway you can.

Areas Of Ministry:
 Taking meals; driving people to appointments or take them shopping; setting up events; reading to an individual or a group; visit regularly at a nursing home; prayer regularly for shut-ins; advocate for the needs of the elderly in your church; set up a visitation team; organize work crews to help the elderly with home repairs; visit those that are sick from your congregation and pray for them; work at a retirement or nursing home; set up an emergency fund for those elderly on fixed income; bring the elderly to children’s events; set up luncheons and events for elderly; take appropriate church work to those that are shut-in so they can be a useful member.

Using a  scale of  1 – 5, rate whether you feel you would like to serve in this ministry (1 = Not at all, 5 = Very much so)  

Your Score ______

Community Ministry (5)
 You are moved when you hear of the needs of others; you pray on behalf of the needy; you are action oriented and want to help anyway you can; you advocate with the church on behalf of those in need; you know about and volunteer to assist in community development programs; you are willing to mentor someone with needs; you give of your resources to those in need; you volunteer to be on committees to help in community projects; you believe that the church should witness to the community through getting involved and meeting needs, you get employers and other community leaders involved with the needs of the community.
Areas Of Ministry:
 Volunteer to help various community programs; organize the church to assist in a food pantry, clothes drive, urban mission trips; volunteer to help those in church with needs; represent various Christian community development programs to the church; start a mentoring program at the church; advocate for the needs of children such as child care, foster care and adoption; link your church with an international Christian Relief agency; give where you can to organizations that are working with the needy; start an after school safe place for children; get involved with families in need; organize church for blood drives; mentor teenage mothers; work for a local ministry that participates in mercy ministry; help with job readiness, retention and advancement training; provide summer jobs or internships; get involved in community politics to bring about changes; be a big brother or sister; open your home for temporary shelter; advocate for healthcare for the needy; work on affordable housing; adopt a family in need; teach parenting skills; be a home visitor; volunteer medical expertise; be an advocate for health issues; offer respite for those who do foster care; care for sick and elderly.

Using a  scale of  1 – 5, rate whether you feel you would like to serve in this ministry (1 = Not at all, 5 = Very much so)  

Your Score ______

Administration (6)
 You know that it takes administration work to help a church or ministry function so you help where you can; you assist with office duties; you volunteer your accounting, marketing, office management, executive or clerical skills when needed; you help with acquisition of state-of-the-art office equipment.

Areas Of Ministry:
 Volunteer to help with mailings, answer phones or help with bulletins; help with accounting; assist with computers purchase, set-up or maintenance; assist in printing needs; set-up bulletin boards; volunteer assistance with web site; volunteer training in your field of expertise; assist in the marketing and advertising needs of the church; help assist a committee by setting up meetings; sending out timely announcements.

Using a  scale of  1 – 5, rate whether you feel you would like to serve in this ministry (1 = Not at all, 5 = Very much so)  

Your Score ______

Leadership (7)
 You want to use your experience in management in the church or ministry; you want to see things done decently and in order; you do nor hoard over people but are a servant leader; you are willing to sit on committees and help anywhere you can; you pray for the pastor and church committees and for the director and staff of local ministries that you feel called to support; you stand ready to assist with leadership issues if needed; you consider it a sacred duty to be a Deacon or Deaconess and live according to I Timothy 3; you strive not to be overtaken with spiritual pride but serve as a leader remembering God’s grace and mercy; you keep up with the latest in church leadership materials, attend training when possible and disseminate what you learn to the rest of  the leadership.

Areas Of Ministry:
 Being a Elder/Deacon or Deaconess; serve on various committees; attend prayer meetings; meet regularly with the Pastor to pray; assist in leadership using your expertise; serve on Board of local ministry; participate in strategic planning and vision casting; help communicate vision for the church; assist in fund raising for the major projects in church or para-church ministry you are involved with.

Using a  scale of  1 – 5, rate whether you feel you would like to serve in this ministry (1 = Not at all, 5 = Very much so)  

Your Score ______

Maintenance/Buildings/Grounds/Vehicles (8)
 You are concerned about supporting ministry through the use of equipment, buildings and vehicles; you believe in the importance of the church’s or local ministry’s appearance and the testimony it gives the neighborhood; you believe in excellence, within the fiscal limitation of the church or ministry.

Areas Of Ministry:
 Help keep vehicles running; set up maintenance schedule; volunteer to drive bus or van; help set up and/or tear down chairs, tables, equipment; be on a committee to assure safety of building, grounds, vehicles and their appropriate use; oversee janitorial crew; volunteer for painting, carpentry, repairing and landscaping duties; donate any specialized expertise that you have; use your network to try and help the church get quality service at a reasonable or discounted price; donate toward needed equipment.

Using a  scale of  1 – 5, rate whether you feel you would like to serve in this ministry (1 = Not at all, 5 = Very much so)  

Your Score ______

Christian Education (9)
 You believe that the church body should know the Word and how to apply it to their lives; you like to teach; you have a passion for a specific Christian topic and like to share it; you like to find the best teachers for each class, one that knows how to best communicate to the audience; you have a good working knowledge of web-based teaching; you like to help in a Christian resource center and library; you believe that the church should be a resource to its people and strive to have the best educational resources possible. 

Areas Of Ministry:
 Set up a church library/resource center; teach Sunday school, adult home Bible studies, youth group or senior citizen groups; be a Sunday School superintendent; provide training seminar opportunities; provide teacher training; provide the best classroom equipment possible; strive to get others in the community to attend teaching sessions in the church; bring in specialized speakers to teach on relevant topics, represent learning opportunities to the church.

Using a  scale of  1 – 5, rate whether you feel you would like to serve in this ministry (1 = Not at all, 5 = Very much so)  

Your Score ______

Counseling/Mentoring (10)
 You have empathy for those that are hurting emotionally and socially; you believe that many people can change if they are shown how; you know that situations are complex at best and try not to be overly simplistic in seeking solutions; you believe that God has sent the comforter so you seek to work through the Holy Spirit and the Bible in dealing with people; you believe in the power of mentoring and try to get involved in areas that you can make a contribution; you try to get others involved in mentoring and helping those that need technical, emotion or spiritual help; you believe in support groups where people can comfort and assist others from their own experiences.

Areas Of Ministry:
 Set up a counseling center and referral network; volunteer as a mentor in your area of expertise; organize self help groups; use your psychological and/or medical expertise to help in the church or para-church organization; help start appropriate support groups, meeting the needs of church and community; be a friend to those who are hurting and help them follow up on their therapy or mentoring; help educate the church on Biblical responses to the many emotional and social issues facing Christians today; coordinate prayer, small groups and accountability partners for those needing assistance.

Using a  scale of  1 – 5, rate whether you feel you would like to serve in this ministry (1 = Not at all, 5 = Very much so)  

Your Score ______

Music (11)
 You believe that music is important to the church so you are willing to help anyway that you can; you know that not everyone has the same tastes so you maintain to be true to your calling while trying not to offend others; you believe that music has a wide range of uses and try to glorify God with all that you do.

Areas Of Ministry:
Participate in choir, band or orchestra; teach music; help in marketing music programs; assist as stagehand, lights, or sound; write music and/or lyrics; create or find good arrangements for performances at church; assist in a musical ministry, perform in musical group or as a solo.

Using a  scale of  1 – 5, rate whether you feel you would like to serve in this ministry (1 = Not at all, 5 = Very much so)  

Your Score ______

Drama/Speech (12)
 You want to help communicate Biblical principles through the medium of drama and or speech; you realize that serving God is the highest calling so you strive to do your best for Him; you make your skills available for groups in the church; you are willing to coach others; you know that writing is a scared trust so you dedicate your craft to Him and pray for His guidance.

Areas Of Ministry:
 Perform in skits to illustrate sermons; perform in plays for special service; work with choir in performing musical; write dramas, skits and speeches to be used in church; direct dramas; tutor young people in acting; entertain children, elderly and other special groups; speak to different groups in church on various topics; assist in designing and building sets; work as a stage hand; assist in lighting and sound; sell tickets and help with marketing.

Using a  scale of  1 – 5, rate whether you feel you would like to serve in this ministry (1 = Not at all,  5 = Very much so)   Your Score ______

Art (13)
 You use your creative force to serve God; artistic expression is something you really enjoy and you want to share it; you enjoy helping others learn more about their artistic self; you know that art is a way to make friends and reach out to non-church members.

Areas Of Ministry:
 Express yourself through the fine arts, crafts, poetry, graphics or other form of art; help decorate church; use graphics to help communicate; work on web site or presentations; create mural; teach/tutor art; create items to raise money; use your art as a way to befriend someone; communicate and minister through your art.
Using a  scale of  1 – 5, rate whether you feel you would like to serve in this ministry (1 = Not at all, 5 = Very much so)  

Your Score ______
Adult Ministry (14)
 You have a burden for the adults and want to help them get assimilated into the church; you understand adult development and the differences in each generation; you desire to see adults involved in small groups; you seek to help in areas that you have experience and knowledge; you are a team player and want to work with the other adult ministries in the church; you have a passion for adults to be active in ministry; you believe that the church should be reaching out to adults in the community through various creative ministries.

Areas Of Ministry:
 Sunday school teacher; host home group meetings; one on one discipleship; lead support group for one of many topics relevant to needs in church and community; mentor adults; teach marriage seminars; assist in parenting skill training; help those that are suffering; be a lay-pastor over small group of adults; help with career set backs; coordinate your services with others in the church; set up career planning and job center in the church; be an adult counselor; host-small home Bible-fellowship group; participate in home visitation; plan social activities for various adult groups; set-up adult resource center.

Using a  scale of  1 – 5, rate whether you feel you would like to serve in this ministry (1 = Not at all, 5 = Very much so)  

Your Score ______

Computer Technology (15)
 We are in the electronic age. You like to work with computers and software and believe that the church should take advantage of technology; you want to be able to help the church or para-church ministry using your skills; you believe in working with a team and understand that in a church there may be different opinions and want to work together for the glory of God; you realize that the church is depending on you so you finish your tasks in a reasonable turnaround time; you are professional in all your endeavors as a volunteer.

Areas Of Ministry:
 Setting up networks; work on web site; installing software; teaching software to staff; maintain the system; tutoring/mentoring people in computer skills; help computerize all areas of church ministry; help with web site; set up a computer learning center.

Using a  scale of  1 – 5, rate whether you feel you would like to serve in this ministry (1 = Not at all, 5 = Very much so)  

Your Score ______
Food Service (16)
 You know the importance of food and the role it plays in fellowship and ministry. You believe in the importance of a good kitchen and fellowship hall and having adequate food service. You believe in service and the testimony that it gives to the community and those visiting the church. You want to make sure that weddings, celebrations, funerals, conferences, daycare and other crucial ministries get the food service they need.

Areas Of Ministry
 Participate on food service committee, volunteer to cook; help schedule events; volunteer to clean–up; help update and install new food service equipment; participate on regular basis in area of food service; plan meals and organize cooks.

Using a  scale of  1 – 5, rate whether you feel you would like to serve in this ministry (1 = Not at all, 5 = Very much so)  

Your Score ______

Electronics/Sound/Video (17)
 You know that communications is a key to effective ministry. You believe in using electronics, sound and video to produce the best communications possible.

Areas Of Ministry
 Installation of new sound system; running sound for services; doing the camera work for a video; creating the story boards for an effective video; editing video; creating a complete electronic suite for the auditorium; managing the sound, light, video team for church services.

Using a  scale of  1 – 5, rate whether you feel you would like to serve in this ministry (1 = Not at all, 5 = Very much so)  

Your Score ______

Missions (18)
 You believe that God has called us to go into the whole world to preach the gospel and as a church we should be involved in missions; you do what you can to keep the cause of missions in the forefront of church business; you take prayer and the raising of support for the missionaries as a scared trust; while the missionaries are on the field, you are an advocate for them.
Areas Of Ministry:
 Being on the Mission Board; praying faithfully for the missionaries; collecting gifts, supplies and support for those in the field; help missionary with furlough plans; work on annual Missions conference; coordinate short term mission trips for members of the church, circulate missions articles and stories to the church.

Using a  scale of  1 – 5, rate whether you feel you would like to serve in this ministry (1 = Not at all, 5 = Very much so)  

Your Score ______

Pastoral Duties (19)
 You have a “call” in your life to oversee a congregation (or a specialized group like seniors, youth, prisoners, homeless, sport teams, mission groups etc.); you see preaching and teaching as a sacred call and therefore prepare diligently both in prayer and study before you preach or teach the Word of God; you take time to be with God so you can be the person that He wants you to be; you resist being proud and strive to be a servant leader; you trust God for your ministry and go where He is working; you like to assist in pastoral duties of visitation, comforting the hurting, welcoming new people and helping them assimilate into the church; assist in leadership and vision of the church.

Areas Of Ministry:
 Preaching; teaching; administration; overseeing the spiritual welfare of those entrusted to you; visit members of the church; perform various ceremonies, i.e. weddings, funerals, dedications, baptisms, communion; responsible for church services; contribute to the vision of the church; assist in the leadership.

Using a  scale of  1 – 5, rate whether you feel you would like to serve in this ministry (1 = Not at all, 5 = Very much so)  

Your Score ______
Leisure and Recreation Ministry (20)
 You believe that church buildings should serve the church and community through leisure and recreational activities. You like to assist with sports programs like softball, basketball and soccer that help give the congregation an outlet and an opportunity to invite the community. You would like to assist in having cultural events on campus. You believe that the church can be a witness by providing wholesome, well organized and supervised sports programs for the community.

Areas Of Ministry:
 Using a gym and fields for  special events, sports and cultural activities; camping programs; senior day care program; Awana, Brigade, Pioneer programs; Upward Basketball; art training; exercise facilities, walking trails, boys and girl scouts, after school programs; and community center.

Using a  scale of  1 – 5, rate whether you feel you would like to serve in this ministry (1 = Not at all, 5 = Very much so)  

Your Score ______

Now that you know your preferences for ministry what next? 

Why not match your preferences to the way God has wired you? Your skills, passions, experiences? CLICK HERE to download your FREE copy of How Am I Wired For Ministry?

Do you know what your Spiritual Gifts are? If not CLICK HERE to download your FREE copy of a Spiritual Gifts Test and Workbook. 
 

To What Great Cause Should I Give My Life?

Another part of our mission in life is to understand what great causes appeal to us. To what cause will I give my life? This is the main question! A “cause” is a principle or a movement that someone supports or follows. In our use of the word it is a movement that supports a philanthropic issue that meets a need in the world. There are thousands of causes in this world all crying out for help and support.

Should Christians be involved in the needs of the world?
 It seems ludicrous that we should even have to ask this question.  Yet as I travel in conservative Christian circles there is such an aversion to the “world” that  I often wonder if there is a genuine love for people outside the faith? While it is true that the Bible says not to love the world or things of the world, that passage is specifically talking about the world’s belief system referred to as the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. It is not talking about a lack of love for people God made in His own image. It is true that we are not to buy into the world’s values of selfishness, greed and pride but at the same time we are to obey the Scriptures that instruct us to do good in the world. God commands us in the Bible to love, do justice and to do good.

We Are Commanded To Love
 Throughout the Scriptures we are commanded to love. This is a fallen world and love is needed in every corner. There are numerous ways to express love and many causes that have great need for loving people to respond.

  God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.
  I John 4:16
 
  The entire law is summed up in a single command: Love your neighbor as yourself.
  Galatians 5:14

  If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.
  Proverbs 25:21
 
 We are constantly given opportunities to love others. Part of this love is to have concern, kindness, empathy, and respect for the many causes in this world.
We Are Commanded To Do Justice
 As with love, there are many causes for justice with which to be involved. However, it is often easier to be involved in an act of love, than it is with justice. Our acts of love are often in response to unmet needs. There is usually no resistance to a loving act. In fact, love is usually followed by a great deal of appreciation. Unlike love, a response of justice is often met with resistance. The word “just” is the root of the word “justice”. But, it is also the root of the word “justification.” Justification is the rational for why we feel “just” in our actions. Our opinion of justice often flies in the face of someone who feels justified in his or her injustice! Perhaps this is caused by the differences in the way that we were raised and he or she does not see their actions as unjust. Do you believe that a person raised in a prejudice environment is interested in what we see as justice toward the people he or she was taught to hate? When we administer justice, it is usually in a difficult situation. Nevertheless, God is serious about justice.

  To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.  Proverbs 21:3

  Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.    Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.  Psalms 82:3

  Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords   of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the   hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe him,   and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?  Isaiah 58:6 – 7

We Are Commanded To Do Good
 Jesus was righteous and good. If we are to be like Him, then we must desire to do good. There are so many causes that are the “good” thing to do.   
The Scriptures teaches us to do good.
  
  Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
  Psalms 37:3
  

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It   is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light   of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under   a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same   way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father   in heaven.
  Matt 5:13 – 16

  And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all    that you need, you will abound in every good work.
  II Corinthians 9:8  

  For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared   in advance for us to do. 
  Ephesians 2:10

  And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in    every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God. 
  Colossians 1:10

  Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in    wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with     everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be    generous and willing to share.
  I Timothy 6:17 – 18

  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 
  Hebrews 10:24

  And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.    Hebrews 13:16

  Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may   see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us. 
  I Peter 2:12

You Can Help With A Cause Through Your Church
 We are Christ’s Kingdom on earth. When people see us, shouldn’t they see a resemblance to the Kingdom of Heaven? Have you ever been to an ethnic market place? The sounds, foods, dress, customs, language are all indicative of their motherland. We see the people in the market, we see a little about their culture, where they or their ancestors were from. Likewise when we are led by God to get involved in causes, when we act out of love, justice or doing good, we are exhibiting the essence of God, we are showing what life in Heaven, His kingdom, is like.   
 The truth is that many of the causes that you will consider could be acted upon through a church based ministry reaching out to the community. What a testimony we could have in our community and nation if all the churches started to encourage their members to get involved in causes as God leads them. The church should be leading the forefront in helping with the needs of this nation.
 The question is, what would God have you do? He is the one who will guide and direct you. It may be that you will volunteer or work for an agency that is associated with the cause that you are interested in and have a completely different ministry through your church. Many Christians operate this way. It may be that God would guide you to start a ministry in your church to help with this cause or if there is already a ministry involved with the cause that you feel drawn to help them. Your mission is to live for God and follow His guidance in the use of your gifts and talents.

What Moves Us To Take Action?
 We are constantly bombarded by needs. If it isn’t at work, home, community or church then our television serves up a world full of needs from extinct animals, suffering children, crime in the streets to political corruptness. Why do some needs move us and others don’t?
 While I was in graduate school in Clinical Psychology I owned a marketing company. In school I was taking classes on motivation, cognitive reasoning and social psychology. I found that marketing was a perfect environment to use much of what I learned in classes. Marketing, whether it was a direct mail appeal, radio advertisement or magazine advertisement was created to persuade someone to take action. As I learned more about people’s reasons for choosing behavior I applied it to marketing. Because of my interest in ministry I began to use my marketing in non-profit organizations. Over the years I have studied why people gravitate to some charities and not others.  
 Why does one cause appeal to us and others don’t? There are many aspects involved in how one chooses a cause. One of the most common reasons we first get involved in a cause is because of an emotional link. The presenting need of the charity creates a visceral response in us.  We are emotionally connected. It could be fear, anger, horror or sadness. Whatever the emotion we respond in order to alleviate our negative emotion. Very seldom will reason alone persuade someone to take action. It is the story or photo that elicits a response and draws you to a cause.
 Being an emotional issue and having a personal connection however isn’t always enough to move us to action. Instead we find that timing, justice, relevance, urgency, impact and personal appeal all have an important influence our choices.

Relevance
 Often we get involved in a cause because there is a personal link. Subconsciously we consider whether or not the issue effects us or someone we love. What are the ramifications if we choose not to act? Will the problem be solved without us? Would refusing to do something create hardships for us or someone we hold dear? Personal relevance determines whether we will make it a primary concern or not.
 For example, a person may never have thought about breast cancer until someone they loved died as a victim of this dreadful disease. As a result of this personal involvement there was anger, frustration and a desire to do something. This scenario is common with many causes. Something happens that makes a person acutely aware of a need and they get involved. There are many causes that you do not know about now, but when the time comes, you will respond. Personal relevance is a major indicator to what causes we support.

Justice 
 Personal tragedy is terrible and motivates people to action, but tragedy that comes at the hand of injustice is an even stronger motivator. Many laws have been changed because the victims of injustice crusaded and rallied enough attention and support to have the injustice overcome. Of course, one does not have to experience the injustice to support the cause. Most of us feel empathy for someone who has been treated unfairly. Assisting retired people who have been cheated out of their life savings or helping a woman and her children who have been victims of abuse are such causes.
 Perhaps the best known non-profit that is a result of personal tragedy is MADD. Mothers Against Drunk Drivers started out of one mother’s coping with the pain and injustice of losing a loved one to a drunk driver. Often people will support causes because it appeals to their sense of fairness and what they heard enraged them. Justice is a major motivator in our deciding to support a cause.
 
Urgency
 Many times we are moved, because not to move is unconscionable. These situations create a feeling of “now or never.” We see this when a natural disaster hits a town. People, who have never supported emergency relief efforts, get heavily involved in order to help their surrounding community during a crisis. Many of the causes in this world have a clock that is ticking, counting down until it is too late. Life threatening issues like war, famine and disease; where whole towns, nations and people can be lost forever have both a sense of urgency and finality about them. Saving historical sites, preserving parks and keeping animals from extinction are causes if ignored, have irreversible consequences. Many ecological issues have this sense of urgency at their core. Urgency is often a contributing factor to the reason people get involved in a cause.

Impact
 Besides relevance, justice and urgency, many people choose one charity over another because of its impact. People react to causes because they believe that they can make a difference. When one charity allows him or her to leverage their impact more effectively than another, it make sense to that person to support the charity that will allow them to make a larger or more effective impact.
 We can use hunger as an example. Some people want to help feed people immediately, while others look at micro enterprising as a better solution with a stronger impact. The quick fix temporarily fills a stomach, while giving a person a loan so they can develop their own small business makes a way to continually fill his or her stomach. The impact of helping a person get a job not only takes care of food, but housing and clothing for that person’s children. This results in a much larger impact than giving a handout.
 Causes that educate, encourage, entertain and bring art, science and education to the world can often inspire and motivate people to act. Although there is no immediate effect, the end result will be significant. Supporting a scholarship fund may not have an impact today, but the end result is someone who is educated and has a much better chance at life. The long term effect is very satisfying to the person supporting the cause. Impact is often a deciding factor that influences what causes we support.

Personal Appeal
 It is well known that most of us do things in life either to gain pleasure or to avoid pain. Not many things are neutral. Where our choices are on a pleasure/pain continuum is what makes up our personal preferences. Food tastes are like that. What tastes bring some people pleasure can often bring someone else pain. Just ask people that have differing opinions on liver and onions or beets! Our personal preferences have a lot to do whether or not a cause appeals to us. What cause appeals to one person may not appeal to another.
 Another important  appealing element in our support of causes is the personal satisfaction that comes from making a difference. Working with a charity makes people feel good. Someone’s gratitude; the knowledge that you were part of a good thing; making a visible difference; and many other factors make supporting a cause worthwhile.
 For many people, their cause appeals to them because it is an important part of their social life. A sense of purpose, making a difference and satisfaction from what one is doing can create a strong bond between people. Is it a surprise that many organizations have learned to turn fund raising into a social event? When people are working together towards a common goal of helping a cause, friendships often result.
 It is our hope that understanding different reasons for supporting a charity or cause may open your eyes to new opportunities of service. There is a world in great need; to what great causes will you give your life?

There is no limit to what God could do as you and the others in your church are Spirit led in the use of these gifts. What are some ways that you can use your gifts? You can find out more about that in our workbook How Am I Wired For Ministry?  CLICK HERE for your FREE download of How Am I Wired for Ministry.

Want to know more about Spiritual Gifts? Download your FREE copy of our Spiritual Gifts Test and Workbook.  CLICK HERE for a Spiritual Gifts Test and workbook

We are calling upon the Church to join in a revolution to rebuild impoverished communities

We are calling upon the Church to join in a revolution to rebuild impoverished communities through:

Church Ministry Partnerships
 We call upon the Church to get involved in helping rebuild communities by partnering with their sister churches in impoverished neighborhoods. This can be accomplished through assisting in neighborhood evangelism, building adequate facilities, aid in mercy ministries and support in any teaching or pastoral capacity if needed.

Eradication of Poverty
 We call upon the Church to get involved in helping rebuild communities by the eradication of poverty. This can be accomplished through assisting local churches in job training, placement, retention and advancement. We can also assist these sister churches by mentoring, teaching job skills and helping create entrepreneurial opportunities. We can advocate for fair living wages and affordable daycare.

Quality Education
 We call upon the Church to get involved in helping rebuild communities by partnering with communities to help provide quality education. Whether it is assisting local churches to provide alternative education or working with existing schools through facility repairs, tutoring, after school homework centers, summer learning academies, churches can aid in quality education to the children of the community.  

Affordable Housing
 We call upon the Church to get involved in helping rebuild communities by assisting in the clean up of neighborhoods, remodeling distressed properties, building of affordable homes and mentoring potential new home owners.

Youth Programs
 We call upon the Church to get involved in helping rebuild communities by partnering with their sister churches and assisting where needed in the provision of day care, youth programs, educational enhancement and parenting training.

Assisting the Elderly
 We call upon the Church to get involved in helping rebuild communities by partnering with their sister churches in providing elder care, senior housing, and adequate health provisions.

Health Care
 We call upon the Church to get involved in helping rebuild communities by partnering with sister churches and making sure that quality affordable health care is available to all members of the community.

What Then Is Our Response?
When we look at Acts at the very birth of the Church, how can we consider living any different than they did? In Acts 2:42-47 it says:

 They devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
 
 Again in Acts 4:32, the scriptures say:
  
 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.

You Are The Church. What Are You Going To Do?
There has never been a better time to get involved in community development. Municipalities are looking for assistance in the face of an over burgeoning social issues and shrinking revenue. What if churches would work together in entrepreneurial ways and create results? What if the impact of a sustained evangelical community development project reduced crime, teen pregnancy and lowered the recidivism of people back into the penal system? What if faith-based economic initiatives and mixed-income housing actually did bring back the economy to distraught communities? What if we could rebuild neighborhoods without displacing the poor? What if churches again became vibrant assets to a community in which it was located? Maybe then not only we, but the world would understand what Jesus meant when He said, “Let your light so shine before men that they may glorify your Father in Heaven.”

Taken from Ron Ovitt’s book Close To The Heart Of God. To learn more about making a differnce go to www.layministry.com

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2007 – A Year for making a difference

I couldn’t believe it. I was in shock. Now, having been in ministry and social services, I have known that the church has lost some of the influence and impact that it once had. I had always hoped that we would get it back. But yesterday, I was really shocked.

I have another blog, Sozo – healing, wholeness and salvation. While I was putting books into the Sozo bookstore, I thought that I would do a search on Amazon for books on Healing. It took me pages and pages before I found a Christian book on healing. I was stunned and thought, “I have known for some time that the world doesn’t call the church anymore when catastrophe strikes. When people are in need the last any more to be called is a church. When communities consider those that can make a difference, most Pastors aren’t called. But healing? Surely we still have a corner on that market?” But sad to say, no – it is another birthright that we have traded for a cup of porridge.

The church is at a crisis. It is time we WALK THE TALK. It is time that we live like Jesus did and get into the streets and do something. Thankfully, some churches are and now with you and I and thousands others maybe many more churches will too.

If your church is making a difference, go to the Share How You Have Made A Difference page and share your testimony. You can write it, voice record it or attach photos. Hopefully you will do all three. I in turn will archive your story and share it with as many as will listen.

I pray that 2007 will be a year that we make a HUGE difference.

Ron