Saturday, March 17, 2007

Discipleship and The Cheesecake Factory

Last year, I was visiting with a pastor friend in a major city in the United States. My friend brought my son and I out for dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. Over dinner he asked: “Where in all your discipleship program does one manifest his/her spiritual gifts?”

To this I responded: “In the discipleship groups.” To help me understand the question my friend said, “No, I mean what about the gifts of people where do they get to manifest them?” To which I answered “when they make disciples.”

We were not on the same page. As he tried to explain himself I realized that what he was saying was people are expecting that the church should provide a venue for them to manifest their spiritual gifts publicly. Almost like churches owed its members a place to express their talents and gifts.

I explained to my friend that the church’s job is to go make and disciples. People’s gifts and talents should be manifested in the process of doing so. Then he said “What about someone who sings?” The obvious answer is in the worship team if there is a need for someone.

But I responded this way: “You don’t build churches to accommodate a person’s gift. Fact is if one has a true gift he/she have nothing to worry about”:

A gift opens the way for the giver and ushers him into the presence of the great. Proverbs 18:16

While our gifts are irrevocable, that does not mean they need to be accommodated by the church. To explain my point I called for our waitress, a smart looking lady. I proceeded to ask her. “Do you like to sing?” To which she said yes. I then asked her, “Are you a good singer?” Again she said yes. I then thanked her.

After she left I told my friend how ridiculous it would be for the Cheesecake Factory to make her sing just because she was gifted or felt she was. Their business was to run a restaurant, he saw my point. Besides what do you do when half your staff, feel they are gifted singers too?

The business of the church is to make disciples. Whether or not our gifts manifest on stage or elsewhere is irrelevant. This kind of attitude is man centered. Our job is to focus on reaching the lost and turning them into disciples for Jesus and not about what our gift is and how we can best manifest them. Rather we need to use our gifts as we go about making disciples.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-2

See also my other post:
Prayer and the Telescope


Thelma Bowlen said...

awesome explanation! this is also great for those who get offended when their gift is not accommodated and they end up leaving as a result.

i think the bottom line should always be to let God use our gifts whenever and wherever He sees fit, while we simply busy ourselves with the same old boring strokes of making disciples. =]

Conrad said...

I always ask my wife to volunteer on kids ministry, but she keep on saying It's not yet time. I realized today, that God is already used her bringing people to God thru her business of party needs. She tried to reached all of her customer specially family to God by building relationship. Thank you for enlightment about the gifts. My wife and I always await your new thoughts.

Let said...

Good point there!!! Thank you for that awesome message...