Discerning gifts

Last evening the Gifts Discernment Committee met at church.  This is the group charged with inviting members to serve on various Commissions each year.  This is the group thankful for the strong response received from the Gifts Discernment forms in which you named people you felt were gifted to lead us in areas such as Worship, Christian Education, Community Life, and Mission.  This is the group that could very likely be giving you a phone call in the next few weeks.

Columbus Mennonite is what you might call a “highly participatory community.”  “Shared ministry” is another way this has been described.  We believe all people have gifts and that we are enriched by the sharing of those gifts.  We value collaboration and fresh input.  Although some folks’ gifts are practiced and polished, we also want to be a place where gifts are tested and developed.  We are not simply consumers of religious goods and services, but rather a fellowship of giving and receiving.

During the meeting last night I was struck with the group’s awareness of the full (um….busy!) lives so many of us lead.  When considering who to ask for various roles, common comments were: “She’s about the begin grad school,” “They have young children,” “He might be moving in the next year,” “She has a very demanding job,” “He is already doing so much for the church.”  These comments weren’t spoken out of discouragement, but rather were seeking to take into account life circumstances.  Overall we are deciding to not say “No” for anyone and to let them do that themselves if they feel so led!

This highlights the creative tension we live with as a faith community and that I feel as a pastor.  I feel drawn to both encouraging people to share their gifts, and encouraging people to take good care of themselves and practice Sabbath keeping.  I want this to be a congregation of lively energetic activity which leads to the transformation of individuals and our community, as well as a place of rest and refuge from the flurry of activity that surrounds us every day.  I see that each person’s calling is not merely contained within the life of the congregation but includes professional vocations, raising children and grandchildren, and serving through various other organizations.

We are all discerning – daily it seems – how and where to use our time and which gifts to develop to what end.  Where and to what to say “No” –   when and to whom to say “Yes.”  I trust that the world is a richer place because of this ongoing discernment, and that the Spirit is leading the way.