Sunday, 22 April 2018

C Columns

Own Your Growth Are you aware of God's call on your life?

By Daniel Bobinski

 

In my 30+ years of being a born­ again Christian, I've lived in several places, and with that, I've served as a youth pastor, men’s pastor, worship leader, adult Sunday school teacher, and teaching pastor. And, because of what I do professionally, I’ve been contracted by churches to assist with their “strategic alignment.” There’s nothing grand about this. My focus has always been to be a servant, and my reason for pointing this out is merely to say that I’ve seen the modern American church from many different angles.

 

The Apostle Paul says the church is “a profound [great] mystery.” Biblically, we know he was referring to Christ’s reference in Matthew about things being hidden since the creation of the world. However, I sometimes joke that the modern church is, indeed, a great mystery — a puzzle that leaves people scratching their heads.

 

By no means am I saying that churches should be disregarded, but I do think that too often they become a collection of programs. Also, too many saints aren’t getting equipped with the tools necessary for them to exercise the gifts God gave them — or the ministries God has called them to.

 

If you’d like to ponder this idea a little more, I have two books to recommend. The firstis titled, “Blessed Are the Misfits,” by Brant Hansen. Some of you may recognize Hansen’s name from his syndicated Christian radio show. In his book, Hansen points out that the modern American church is not anywhere close to what is described in the  Scripture. He doesn't criticize anyone for missing that boat, he simply tells stories that make you think.

 

For example, there's the chapter talking about a guy who cleans up severely disabled kids who cannot make it to the bathroom. The man does this every day, and this is his ministry. This kind of ministry isn’t flashy or impressive, but it’s what God called the man to do, and I’m sure those children are very grateful that he listened to God’s leading.But that’s the key: It was something he felt called to do, so he followed God’s call and did it. At times, well­ intended programs get started and people get pushed or pulled into them, but they don’t always work as well as when someone steps into God’s calling organically.

 

I know ministry leaders have good intentions, but I also think they can miss some of the bigger picture. Francis Chan, formerly the teaching pastor of a 5,000 member church in California, realized this and made a change. Speaking about his congregation in a recorded interview, Chan said, “Every one of these people has a supernatural gift that’s meant to be used for the body. But 5,000 people show up every week to hear my gift; that’s a lot of waste.” He also said, “According to Scripture, [these people] have a miraculous gift that they could contribute to the body, but they’re just sitting there quietly.” He took this to the Lord in prayer, saying, “God, you wanted a church that was known for their love. You wanted a group of people where everyone was expressing their gifts. ... What would a body look like where everyone was using their gifts?”

 

As a result, Chan did away with large weekly gatherings and instead started a network of house churches. His organization now consists of more people stepping into leadership roles, exercising the gifts that God gave them. The result? People are “owning” their own spiritual growth.  

 

Please don’t think I’m suggesting that churches disband. What I am saying is that the institutionalized church, like any institution, has its shortcomings, and we, as the Body of Christ, should be intellectually honest and recognize those potential shortcomings for what they are.  

 

To help in that effort, I’d like to recommend another book, titled, “So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore,” by Wayne Jacobsen. Don’t let the title get in the way. Essentially, the book is a comprehensive Q & A about the inevitable shortcomings of institutionalized church, written in a “fable,” or story, format. The book doesn’t say don’tgo to church. It simply helps us see what things can get in the way of spiritual growth for those of us in the Body of Christ. I’ll warn you, the recurring chance meetings of the main characters are pretty far­fetched, but by using a fictional story the author is able to write a Q & A in a way that attracts more readers and helps them see what is possible for spiritual growth.

 

Those who are 'introverted' (or perhaps more “intellect­-heavy” rather than emotional) will gain hope from Hansen’s book. For example, those who can't pray the way we’re “supposed to” are still blessed. And yes, those of us who don't blend with the modern church's extraverted giftings are still blessed.

 

Those who feel like something is missing from their weekly church experience will gain insights from Jacobsen’s book.

 

Both books will restore hope for anyone who feels guilty for not fitting in, or feels like they are not doing what God has called them to do.

 

No matter what your own experience might be, God has called you to do what God has called YOU to do. Are you aware of what that is? If so, are you doing it? If yes, great! If not, I encourage you to seek God’s leading by spending some time alone with God. What does HE have to say about it? There’s no need to wait for someone else to say it’s okay. I firmly believe that if we are earnestly seeking God’s leading and guiding and start doing what we believe He has called us to do, He will open the way and bless us through the gifts He has given us, whatever they may be.

 

Daniel Bobinski, M.Ed., runs two businesses. One helps teams and individuals learn how to use Emotional Intelligence. The other helps companies improve their training programs. He’s also a homeschooling dad, a best­selling author, and a popular speaker at conferences and retreats. Reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 208­-375­-7606.

 

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