Having a challenging time moving your members from consumers to contributors?
Thinking it’s a lack of desire? Well think again.
Architecture teaches that function follows form. But in ministry, we believe the opposite is true – form follows function. A person’s ministry is determined by their makeup or their SHAPE.
When someone doesn’t understand their SHAPE, they can end up serving in ways God never intended or designed. When gifts aren’t in alignment with where we serve, it can create frustration, burnout and produce limited results and frankly can be a waste of time, talent and energy.
Here are five important factors that make up how God SHAPEs us for ministry.
The moment we become a believers, God gives us certain spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12; Romans 8; Ephesians 4). Every believer has a spiritual gift.
Most say, “Discover your spiritual gift and then you’ll know what ministry you’re called to serve.” That’s backwards. Instead, we should try out different ministries and when we find a fit, we’ll know we’ve engaged our SHAPE or found our sweet spot for service. That’s when gifts are discovered. Until we actually get involved in serving, we’re simply not going to know what we’re created to do.
The Bible uses the heart to represent the center of emotions, desires, interests, and inclinations. God has given every individual a unique physical heartbeat. This unique heartbeat is like a thumb print. It’s different from everyone else’s. God also gifts us with a certain emotional heartbeat. Certain things get us excited, while others not so much.
These passions help us better understand how God wants to use us in ministry. God has gifted certain people to teach, but if he also gives them a heart for children, then teaching children is their sweet spot. Our God-given motivational bent provides an internal guidance system for our life and will determine what will bring us the greatest fulfillment while serving.
These are the natural abilities God gives us from the moment we’re were born. Some people are natural athletes. Others were born with innate mathematical abilities. Others are great at working with people.
Just like spiritual gifts and heart, God gives us natural abilities so that we can use them to do his work in the world. There are people in your church who are gifted with all kinds of abilities. It’s your job to find out what they are. There is a tremendous amount of talent in your church waiting to be unleashed. All you have to do is ask, equip and release!
Our personality influences how we’ll use our gifts and abilities. Those who are extroverted will serve in ways that are different from those who are introverted. The same is true for people who like routines and people who like variety.
Our personality will affect how and where we use our spiritual gifts and abilities. There is no “right” or “wrong” temperament for ministry. We need all kinds of personalities to balance the church and give it flavor. The world would be a very bland and boring place if we were all the same.
God never wastes an experience. Specifically, He gives us four kinds of experiences that shape the ministry he wants for us: educational, vocational, spiritual, and painful.
That last one may surprise you, but it’s the most important. God never wastes a hurt. God takes us through painful experiences and comforts us so we can minister to others who are in pain. One of the best ways to help people discover their ministry is to ask them, “How can God use that?”
Because our SHAPE was sovereignly determined by God for his purpose, we shouldn’t resent it or reject it. Romans 9:20-21 says, “What right have you, a human being, to cross-examine God? The pot has no right to say to the potter: Why did you make me this shape? Surely a potter can do what he likes with the clay?” (JB).
Remember that fruitfulness will be the result of a good ministry fit!