We have all heard pastors say, “The church is like a body, and every part is important.”
This statement is a well-meaning reference to 1 Corinthians 12:12 “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.” In this passage, Paul is using a human body as a metaphor to essentially say that we all have a role in the church.
What does that even mean? Can we all agree that not every body part is equally important? No one is standing up in a church and saying, “I really hope I get to be the spleen.” Sure, your spleen is important, but you can take it out and go on with your life like it was never even there. We want more than that for ourselves and hopefully for our churches too.
So, if we can assume this is true and we are all important parts of the body of Christ, and nobody gets to be the spleen, churches should be busting at the seams with leaders! Everyone should be jumping up to volunteer, run a program, teach a class… but this is not the case. Often, leaders have to be told that is what they are.
So, if we can assume this is true and we are all important parts of the body of Christ, and nobody gets to be the spleen, churches should be busting at the seams with leaders!
Sometimes, we just need someone to tell us we are great at something! It is hard for most humans to truly see their own gifts. That is why we have each other. God gave us all unique gifts, and He surrounded us with people who need them.
For me, this process of identifying my God-given gifts required a close friend of mine (and incredible leader) pushing me to step outside what I thought I was capable of. Several years ago, she came to me and said, “Hey, I need you to lead the high school girls in a Bible study. They need you, and I think you will love it!” This was not something I wanted to do, or something I had ever considered. In fact, my immediate response was “no thanks”. But my friend needed help and she was not going to take “NO” for an answer.
Turns out, I was good at working with teenage girls, really good. I was able to see the impact my experiences and my faith was having on the lives of the girls. It made me feel needed and valuable during a very difficult time in my life. My friend knew I needed an opportunity to see myself as God saw me, so she pushed. That push impacted my life in ways I was not even aware of at the time. I am eternally grateful that God put this friend in my life, and she believed in me as a leader enough to put me in roles I did not know I wanted.
I am eternally grateful that God put this friend in my life, and she believed in me as a leader enough to put me in roles I did not know I wanted.
I will not profess to be an expert in this area, but I have had the opportunity to identify hidden leaders in my church. It is not always the people that stand on stage that make an impact.
I am a member of a small neighborhood church. We meet in a school, so that means we are responsible for setting up the church each week and packing it all back up before we leave. This can get hard. It is tedious, and it is time consuming. It also happens while our regular attenders, members, and guests are exiting. This means that the team that is working to pack up does not get as much opportunity to chat and connect with families as they leave.
The converse is also true. I am a talker – I love to spend time connecting with old and new friends at the end of the service, but it prevents me from helping to get things packed up. I am using my gifts, and I feel like I am serving my church, but I do not want my gift to make me appear unwilling to help other members of the team.
I have a close friend who is my opposite in almost every way. She is amazing and fantastic, but she is not interested in the post-service chatter. She is very content with getting all the church items packed up and ensuring that things are all in their proper place and ready for use the following week. She serves me and our church family by doing this work. I serve her by doing the chatting. I think I win in this scenario, but she promises me she likes it this way.
Allowing leaders to activate the individual gifts God gave them in ways that feel genuine and useful to them advances the kingdom. It also prevents burnout, which nobody wants in a small church.
Allowing leaders to activate the individual gifts God gave them in ways that feel genuine and useful to them advances the kingdom.
Creating Teams that Impact Lives
Let’s get back to this whole “we are all parts of a body” thing. This is where individual leaders become leadership teams.
Recently, our small church went through a pastor transition. This was hard! My family was very close with the pastor’s family, and we did not want to see them go. But God had plans for them and for our church. It was our job to trust and to lead. My husband and I, along with a handful of others within the church, were asked to take on the task of searching for a new pastor. This meant putting the church before ourselves. It also meant asking people to commit significant time to reviewing resumes, conducting interviews, meeting as a group, and really praying though what God had in store for the future of our church.
The process was emotional and rewarding. Church members stepped into leaderships roles they did not think they were ready for, and they thrived. This team consisted of church staff, long time members, and newer members. The variety of voices at the table forced hard conversations and created a family-like bond.
We have seen families leave during the transition and new families join us. As our church continues to grow and change, it brings me peace to know that God has put the leadership team we have in place at this time and for this church. We truly are the body of Christ – we can’t all be the head, but the feet are really important too. The work is hard, but it changes lives. We all have a job to do, and I do not see any spleens among us!
We truly are the body of Christ – we can’t all be the head, but the feet are really important too. The work is hard, but it changes lives. We all have a job to do, and I do not see any spleens among us!
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