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Equipped for Every Good Work with Dan Dick

This weekend I spent an overnight along with other conference leaders for a Spiritual Gifts Workshop presentation by Dan Dick, of the General Board of Discipleship. His presentation is based on a book co-authored by Dick and his wife, called, Equipped for Every Good Work.

Overall, I really enjoyed the weekend. I've done Gifts Inventories before, but this one was more in depth, and tied things together instead of just doing a survey and leaving it at that.

Some highlights:
In the teacher-disciples model, disciples can someday become teachers. But in a shepherd-sheep model, "a sheep can rarely become a shepherd." We should be mindful of how our models of leadership can or can't be empowering.

Burnout: "when we force square pegs into round holes, asking pastors to minister in areas where they are not gifted."

Giving: "People gifted in giving see their gift not as a solution but as seed."

We have structure-based churches - we keep the same structure and feed people into different roles, recycle them through the structure.

Something I really found interesting is that Dick and his wife/co-author studied Spiritual Gifts in the denomination and did up statistical tables by jurisdiction as well. The results were almost identical across the jurisdictions, despite the differences we like to give ourselves. Overall - our denomination priorities "inward tending gifts" or "self-tending" gifts, like teaching, administration, etc., while Evangelism, Apostle, etc., - these outward reaching gifts were toward the bottom of the list across the denomination, in the United States. Central Conference results, however, showed much more outward-turned results.

Comments

George Curcio said…
Your comments in the last paragraph, concerning inward-tending gifts, brought to mind a realization that came while a member of a large church in the 1980s (and that has been reinforced at several churches, regardless the denomination).

While attending there, the entire focus was inward, on the church and its members. Other than going to the jails to convert prisoners to Christianity, emphasis was never placed on helping and serving others simply as an expression of God's love. Instead, the impression was that God's love was to be enjoyed only by those already converted.

I remember when this occurred to me one morning during service, while sitting in what was then the church's relatively-new sanctuary. As I sat there, it occurred to me that the inference of the message I constantly heard was about keeping God's love "in house." If others were to enjoy it, they would have to gain admission through personal conversion. It was all about conversion; otherwise, there was no need to be nice, let alone sow love, to anyone.

The extension of Christian love was never done for its own sake, but only as a means to recruit others to profess their faith. And unless others professed their acceptance of Christ as savior, they would be punished by having to remain on the outside looking in.

My reading of the Bible showed Jesus going out into the world and meeting people where they were, not only but especially including sinners. The expression of Christ's love was a gift to be offered, with the hope it would be accepted, if not immediately, then at some time in the future. But whether it was accepted or not, it would continually be offered as genuine love. The reactions of those to whom it was offered had no bearing on the actions of those doing the offering, and rejection did not mean reluctance to continually offer a sincere love rooted in Christ.

Whereas the church I was attending turned the focus inward and on themselves, Christ turned the focus outward, towards others. Upon realizing this, a choice had to be made between continuing to follow the teachings and emphasis put forth by the ministry of that particular church, or following the teachings and emphasis put forth by the ministry of Christ.

I chose the latter, and have been affirmed in that choice by no longer feeling the guilt and need for justification that often conflicted me while a member of that church.

Since that time, life has repeatedly affirmed that it is not about me, but about how I can serve others. Despite often falling short, I keep trying, with a sincere focus on that elusive goal.

Each time I fall, Christ picks me back up again. The too-few times I succeed show there truly is no greater happiness than that which comes from serving the needs of others. Service to others truly is life's great reward.

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