I like thousands of other people over the years have taken a “Spiritual Gifts Test” to discover my gifts. At the end of the test you learn where your gifts and passions are, and then comes the application part. So now that I discover that I have a gift of hospitality what do I do? Often the test givers have suggestions. “If you have a gift of hospitality perhaps you should be an usher or on our fellowship committee. ´”If you have a gift of teaching perhaps you should join our Sunday School Team” The institutional church mind set automatically seeks ways our gifts can bless the church. This is symptomatic of a bless the Church attitude which has prevailed in the institutional church for years and it runs directly counter to the most basic covenant in Scripture. In Genesis 12 God instructs Abram in what part he is to play in this relationship with Him. He says “and you will be a blessing.” vs.2. God gives Abram and through him to us this basic covenantal relationship; God will bless us and we are to bless others.
It seems to me that the deal here is that we ought not to worry about blessing ourselves, God says He will do that! Instead our focus is to be on blessing others (those not like us). Taking this covenant seriously will lead us back to our mission. Why does the Church exist? To bless others! As we engage in this mission as our primary task He blesses His Church and we become the Christ’s Beautiful Bride. Lack of mission impoverishes the Church. As counter-intuitive as it may seem a focus on maintenance causes the church to be in disrepair.
I have the great privilege of having a leadership role in a missional community, “Up Town”. We are a gathering of broken people with very limited resources. We have formed around the proposition that God calls us to be kind in Jesus name by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is a blessing strategy that we see working as we influence the hard streets of our inner city neighbourhood. We all are learning that we can be kind. Our saying is “This is not rocket surgery! We can do this!” God is richly blessing Up Town and I believe it is the coolest church ever but I believe these blessings are a result of having a missional mindset.
I do not know what the opportunities are in your neighbourhood, but if you begin to ask the question “How can we bless those who are not like us?” and if you seek for creative ways to do just that as a priority, you can unleash a freshness of expression of church in your midst. This is the way back to relevance for the church in North America.