Matthew 25: Vital Congregations and Pentecost

We are entering the season of Pentecost, a season where we reflect and acknowledge the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon all believers.  The Holy Spirit has always been at work in the world, God has always used people to guide and lead God’s people.  With the gift of Pentecost, God has expended the role of leadership to all.  Yes, our congregations have set aside people with specific roles such as pastor, elder, deacon, and committee chairs, but all of God’s people have gifts that can and should be used for the good of the church and, more importantly, for serving God.

Pentecost reminds us that we have all received the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and with that, we have all received a gift, talent, or fruit of the Spirit to share within our communities of faith.  One of the seven marks for a vital congregation, within the Matthew 25 initiative is: empowering every member to discover their individual calling and the gifts God has given them so they can go forth and serve.  Pentecost is the perfect season to focus on this specific mark.

From the Office of Vital Congregations within the PC(USA), the following appears in the toolkit:  “All people of God, in the image of Christ, are given fruit of the Spirit and spiritual gifts meant for building up the Church. In this way, we are all called to serve the Lord, to do our part in membership of the body of Christ. Every part is necessary. Every part is valuable, and every voice is important. Every person should be equipped, nurtured, and supported to use their gifts to glorify God, through servant leadership; not just cliques of powerful people or continual burnout of the same leaders. In keeping with true discipleship formation, churches are called to help all members to be empowered to use their gifts in servant leadership. And, God calls and equips some for the particular task of pastoral ministry, which must be cultivated, nurtured and trained. Ministry can never be about a single pastor, but it is about identifying, equipping and empowering those servant leaders God puts in our midst.”

Studies show over and over again, that 20% of the people do 80% of the work.  Within the life of the church, we need to change this statistic.  Everyone has valuable gifts to share and purposeful work to do.  As people are empowered to share their gifts they are also given the opportunity to grow deeper in their own journey of discipleship.  Congregations should seek ways to celebrate the variety of gifts that we all have and the ways in which we use them.

In this specific moment in ministry, how might we being seeing gifts, talents, abilities in new ways?  Are there people within your congregation that have skills that can be used for virtual worship?  For helping edit or create videos?  This is a time where we seeking to creatively find new ways to worship and do ministry, and there are people with a variety of gifts that can provide leadership in new and exciting ways.  Let us embrace this time of uncertainty as a time of newness and exploration as we empower disciples to use their gifts in creative and innovative ways.