The Revised Standard Version   

1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were heathen, you were led astray to dumb idols, however you may have been moved. 3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit. 4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are inspired by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

 The Messiah Complex will Kill You (Literally)

 Trying to do everything in your power to make sure that the church functions is one of the most destructive things that a pastor or lay leader can do. 

Yes you can sing but that is also why the church has a choir.

Yes you can do stewardship but you have a community of believers who can also teach the congregation about their time, talents, gifts and tithe.

Yes you can visit the sick and shut for 20+ hours per week but those who sick often do not want to be bothered and the elderly often miss their friends from the church a lot more than they miss you.

 The solo pastor gig must be viewed as an opportunity to equip a ministry team. The lay leaders who possess  leadership, administrative, pastoral care and other spiritual gifts must embrace their gifts as an opportunity to share and empower others.

 11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Ephesians 4:11-13

 Building ministry teams is essential for the life of the church to be embraced and shared by the entire congregation.  Jesus knew that when he choose his first team of disciples. He lived with them as they learned and skeptically looked at his teachings as different yet refreshing.  Jesus moved in and out of the lives of people modeling for the disciples God’s unconditional love and unmerited favor as he forgave people of their sins, healed their infirmities and challenged them to lives of deeper commitment to God.

 I am sure that it would have been easier to meet and bless more people if Jesus did not have the 12 and others following him every time that he moved.  I am sure that his prayer time was interrupted by those seeking his council during prayer time.  Building an effective, efficient, winning team is not easy in any sport.  The same is true about building ministry teams.  It is not easy but it is worth it.

 There is one truth about teams that is clear in any sport or organization.  People operate most effectively in areas where they are gifted or they have a passion.  This is also true in the church.  People who are gifted in hospitality are great as greeters.  They love to arrange the bulletins, meet people with coffee and a smile and they can do it for hours.  Some people have the gift of looking at people and knowing that something is wrong.

 The challenge is most churches in mainline denominations has been operating on the basis of fill a committee with a warm body. The Lay Leadership /Nominating Committee will be presenting a bold new proposal for reorganization of our church council.  The basis of this proposal is that all leaders and potential leaders will take the Spiritual Gifts Assessment.  The Lay Leadership Ministry Team will then match people’s gifts to the leadership and ministry needs here at West Baltimore UMC.

 We will be sharing with you the leadership profile for each ministry position and the goals for 2008.  We will then ask you to pray about being called to lead a ministry based on your spiritual gifts.  I already know that you have never done it that way.  I also have heard that you are not aware of any other UMC churches doing it this way.  My response is that I understand your concerns and ask you to reflect on how Jesus called the disciples.

 He needed people who clearly understood the Hebrew Scriptures so that he could teach them the contrasting new way to be in relationship with God. He needed people who were not afraid of rejection so he chose people who were already considered sinners.  Jesus needed people who were self starters and entrepreneurial so he choose, fisherman and a tax collector. Philip and Andrew were task oriented yet Peter was one to talk loud and take action.  Jesus chose 12 men who could work together to achieve consensus and build teams themselves. This was not by accident

Our spiritual gifts are given to us with a purpose.  Spiritual Gifts are essential to the life a disciple.  Spiritual gifts are often misunderstood by most believers.  Disciples of Jesus Christ who are committed to living God’s purpose for their lives are men and women who are also seek to discover and share their spiritual gifts. When a believer is exercising their spiritual gifts they are also living out their purpose.

 Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ who called to live a life a purpose.  They have moved beyond living to survive and living to obtain success and they are now living lives of significance.  Their significance is not about what position they have obtained in the church but how they are living out God’s purpose for their life.  Being clear about God’s purpose for most people is a journey.  Living God’s purpose for your life will also mean that you have discovered your spiritual gift or spiritual gifts.

 Paul opens our text today saying that he did not want us to be uninformed or ignorant about spiritual gifts.  I believe this is because Paul knew that the foundation of every believer being effective and active in ministry was that they would seek, discover and live within their spiritual gift set.  The church in Corinthians was booming and growing at an uncontrollable rate.

Radical stuff was going on.  They worshiped in peoples homes rather than in the temple.  They would sing joyfully without an order or worship. They had women and en in the same space worshiping together.  Can you imagine that they even had women speaking in worship?

 The church of Corinth in their radical state was a growing and thriving church and this was due mostly to the spiritual gifts being active in the fellowship.  This caused signs and wonders where people were blessed supernaturally.  As non believers watched they became believers because they want to experience the transformation that they saw the believers in Jesus Christ experiencing.  They wanted to experience the spiritual renewal they saw taking place all around them.  They saw people who previously worshiped the Greek gods who had no power.  People were going to their temples with no fellowship.  They were reciting mantras with no satisfaction. These unbelievers were watching these Christians pray and experience the answer to prayer.  These Christians would go to each others houses and fellowship, share stories about their lives and make sure that everyone was taken care of.  The watched Christians develop a relationship with God and talk to God through prayer, believe in God to intervene in their everyday life.

         Every believer has at least one  spiritual gift

         Spiritual gifts are to be used to the building of the Body of Christ

         We all have different gifts but all gifts are given by the same Spirit

         We have to value the journey of the people that are seeking to discover their spiritual gift