Monday, October 31, 2011

The story of Brenda

At Chain of Lakes we're focusing on Spiritual Gifts for the next month. We want to create a system where people identify their gifts and then are equipped to use them in At the end of my sermon yesterday I shared the story of Brenda. I'd like everyone reading this blog to reflect on this question, "what would happen to Brenda in your church? Are you willing to re-organize the way you do ministry so that Brenda could live into her dreams?" To watch the sermon go to:

Let me wrap up this sermon with a story about Brenda. This isn’t a historically true story. But a story like hers has happened many times in many different churches. Brenda has the spiritual gift of administration. What that means is she has the God-given ability to organize and manage information people, events, and resources to accomplish the objective of a ministry. She also has a deep passion to help kids with autism. She didn’t know that she had the gift of administration.

She moved to a new city. There was a church near her. It was called “Recruitment Presbyterian Church.” She attended one Sunday. When she walked in the door of the church she was greeted warmly. The people of the church were glad to see her. They were generous and kind and engaging. After attending a few Sundays Brenda decided to connect with the congregation.

One Sunday she went to worship and someone made a passionate plea to help with their hospitality ministry. The church needed door greeters. They really needed someone to say “yes.” They didn’t have anyone for the next Sunday and the person doing the announcement said he would be willing to get on his knees so that someone would be a door greeter. Brenda thought—I can do that. So she signed up. She was a door greeter about twice a month.

Often when she would drive home after worship she thought about some of the kids she knew who had autism. Every now and then she wondered if Recruitment Presbyterian Church would start a ministry to help these kids. One day she shared her ideas with some of the good folks at Recruitment Presbyterian Church. They responded by nodding their head and saying “good idea.” They never gave her any direction or ideas about taking the next step.

A while later she was talking to another parent from Recruitment Presbyterian Church about her dream of helping kids with autism and the parent said, “you know, we’re just happy that kids come to Recruitment Presbyterian Church and when they are here that they behave. I don’t think our congregation would know how to handle kids with autism.” When she sat down and reflected on this conversation she thought, “the people are really friendly here, but they just want warm bodies. They don’t want to live out their dreams.”

One Sunday a friend of hers at work invited her to attend Spiritual Gifts Presbyterian Church. She had no reason to attend because she liked Recruitment Presbyterian Church. She said, “yes.” When she came to the door she was greeted by a man who was warm in welcoming her. Later that day the man told her that he had the gift of hospitality and he loved using that gift to greet people. During worship the Lay Leader read a story about Jesus from the Scriptures that opened up the story to her in a new way. She had heard the story many times, but never she had never heard it read in such a compelling way. Her friend told her that people could do readings in worship if they had the gift of teaching. After worship she was amazed at the presentation of the food at fellowship. She had never seen so many different types of food presented in such a beautiful way. Later she found out that people could only serve fellowship if they had the gift of serving.

That week a person shared a coffee mug with her at her door. She enjoyed the two minute conversation with the person. She found out that the person who brought the mug had the gift of evangelism. When she was talking to her co-worker that week she mentioned that people really liked serving at Spiritual Gifts Presbyterian Church. Her co-worker said that the congregation had made a switch a few years earlier to a system of shared ministry. People weren’t recruited anymore. They were encouraged to identify their gifts and then encouraged and supported to use them in order to live out their dreams.

She went back to Spiritual Gifts Presbyterian Church the next Sunday and while she was there she took a Spiritual Gifts inventory. When she did it she discovered she had the gift of administration. She always had thought she had this gift, but now it was confirmed. Later that week someone from Spiritual Gifts church called her. “Could I come over and meet with you,” the person said. “I know you’re not part of our congregation, but I want to encourage you to use your gift of Administration. It doesn’t have to be for our church, but we know that if people use their gifts the world is a better place.”

They made a date for lunch. During the conversation Brenda she shared that she wanted to help kids with autism. “That’s wonderful,” the person said. “It would be a natural for you to use your gifts of administration to help these kids. You could do that in a church or not. With the gift of administration you have the ability to organize a program that would help these kids.”

When she heard that she realized that this was true. Brenda decided to go to the local school and share with the counselor her desire to help these kids. Surprisingly the counselor said that she had been thinking herself about designing a program to help kids with autism, but she needed someone with the gift of Administration. Brenda was awe struck. She had the gift of administration, and she was willing to use it. The counselor knew of a program that they could do, but the problem was they didn’t have a place to hold the program. Brenda responded, “I’m sure that Spiritual Gifts Presbyterian would host this.” She was so excited that she drove immediately over to the church. The pastor just happened to be available. Brenda shared with the pastor that the church had helped her identify Administration as a spiritual gift. That had led her to talk to the counselor about helping kids with autism and now they needed a place to host a program. Would Spiritual Gifts Presbyterian Church do it.

The pastor smiled. Of course they would do it.

Soon Brenda ran an one-day after school program for kids with at Spiritual gifts Presbyterian Church. Her gifts and passions had intersected. The program made a difference.

About two months later someone called her from Recruitment Presbyterian Church. Brenda hadn’t been to worship there for those two months. “We’re filling out the greeter schedule for the next three months,” the person said on the phone. “We have some slots to fill. Would you be a greeter?” Brenda thought to herself. She liked the people at Recruitment Presbyterian Church. She didn’t mind being a greeter; it wasn’t that hard. But she was having such a blast living out her spiritual gifts of administration and living out her dream of helping kids with autism. She felt guilty saying no, but there was no way she could say no to her gifts.

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