Under the Christmas tree sat a beautifully wrapped box, waiting to be opened. I thought I knew what was inside, but I wouldn’t know for sure until I tore through the wrapping paper to find out. Sure enough, when I opened the box, I found a new backpack, one to replace the NorthFace backpack I had used the previous 14 years, and taken all over the world.
But let me ask, could I use my new backpack if I had not taken it out of the box? Could Shellie and our kids benefit from it, when we go day hiking, if I simply tied the unopened box around my back? Of course not!
For me and my family to benefit from this gift, I needed to unwrap it and use it for it’s intended purpose. The same holds true for the special gifts Jesus gives everyone of His followers.
We find in a New Testament book called Ephesians that Jesus gives each one of His followers a gift for use in the local church.
He gave people gifts of apostolic and/or prophetic functions, of evangelistic, pastoral and/or teaching roles (Ephesians 4:11). People can have one of these or a combination of them. But everyone gets a gift.
Dr. Carolyn Tennant, author of Catching the Wind of the Spirit, visited with Connection Point several years ago and shared that these gifts are not just reserved for church leaders. Some may use these gifts as overseers, but everyone is given a gift for their sake and for the sake of the church body they are a part of.
Every believer is an important part of the local body they attend. Every believer has a unique place in the Kingdom of God.
What we have found is a person’s gifts, passions and story, converge in a way that uniquely qualifies them for special service in God’s Kingdom.
(GIFTS) I, Zach, have giftings in the areas of apostolic (pioneering, bringing the light of the Gospel where it doesn’t exist) and prophetic (vision and truth) functions, and teaching/pastoral gifts (teaching God’s Word and bringing others along in their journey with Jesus). Shellie has giftings in evangelism (deep compassion and the ability to share Good News in effective ways), along with apostolic (pioneering) and prophetic (truth and discernment) functions.
(PASSIONS) We are both passionate about reaching lost people (Luke 19:10). We are both passionate about reaching the nations. We are both passionate about seeing American Christians embrace their God-given potential as everyday disciple makers of Jesus (Matthew 28:19). We have a desire to see kids whole and receive an education. We have a heart to see those affected by poverty, prison, and sickness experience the freedom and healing offered in Jesus (Matthew 25:35-36). We long to see people in healthy families and marriages. In short, we are passionate about proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom together in word and action (Matthew 9:35).
(STORY) Shellie and I have shared our stories in previous articles. We are both from minister’s homes. We grew up with a love for the American church. We both spent our childhoods in rural settings, in farm communities. My first job as a 12-year old was picking rocks out of a soon-to-be planted wheat field in North Dakota. In middle school, I moved to the Chicago area and this is where we spent some of the early years of our marriage. We spent a decade overseas, redefining our definition of what the church is and how it is meant to function. God put a desire in our heart to return to the U.S., to serve in the role of lead pastors of a local church in order to more fully activate our gifts, passions and collective stories.
Shellie’s and my gifts, passions, and stories converged in such a way to uniquely serve in God’s Kingdom as lead pastors of Connection Point Church. Our rural upbringing and love of cities come together in a special way in West Lafayette, an area surrounded by farms but containing Purdue University, which creates a metropolitan feel. Our heart for the nations, the lost, kids, those facing hardship, and the American church come together in a unique way with Shellie teaching in a public school setting and with us serving as ministers in a local church.
Although our gifts, passions and stories are unique to us, the experience of these three things converging in a special way is something meant for all of Christ’s followers.
What are these gifts and passions for? To help a church body become mature, no longer tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. As these gifts are put to use, the promise is that believers will not be influenced when people try to trick them with lies so clever they sound like the truth (Ephesians 4:14).
In a previous article we talked about how everyone in North America has been influenced by secularism. It has deceptively influenced the way we view life and has created the need for us to more intentionally pursue the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2), with the help of the Holy Spirit.
We intend to do this as a church body, to pursue wholeness while at the same time activate the spiritual gifts of all those a part of Connection Point in order to guard against future obstacles. The joyful outcome of this is a congregation that is healthy and full of love (Ephesians 4:16). As the gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher are put to use, the whole church will move rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to Jesus, fully alive like Christ (Ephesians 4:12-13, MSG).
We intend to help everyone identify their gifts, passions and story so that everyone can enter into their life purpose in the Kingdom of God.
We plan to use a gift assessment from giftpassionstory.com, input from those who know you best, and sample-to-serve opportunities to discover everyone’s unique Kingdom contribution. In so doing, the promise of scripture is we will all grow healthy and full of love. We will measure up to the full and complete standard of Jesus (Ephesians 4:13). We will discover our life purpose and advance the Kingdom of God in the Greater Lafayette area and around the world!
We’d Love to hear from you!
What gift or gifts do you think Jesus has given you? What are your passions and story? Share your comments below.
1 You can also find a video message of this content here.