So when we get together, what should our meetings look like as we use our differing motivational gift?
As a preliminary matter, this example assumes that there is a commitment by all to actively participate, and that everyone in fact has a vibrant walk with the Lord so that they have something to contribute.
Those are BIG, but indispensable, assumptions (but that’s a topic for another blog!).
An Example: Motivational Gifts In Fellowship Gatherings
It’s Sunday evening, and the church has gathered for their main weekly meeting over a shared, pot-luck meal in Betty and Bob’s house. They don’t believe a home is required as a place to meet, but like that environment because it creates a sense of friendship and intimacy. They have seen how a peaceful home helps people feel comfortable and secure enough to relate on a personal level and participate in sharing with each other.
They start by breaking and passing around a loaf of bread to represent the Lord’s body, broken for them. Bob offers up a prayer to bless the bread and the meal, and the ensuing conversation around the table is fun and lively. There’s some good-natured kidding, and lots of laughing, as folks recount the challenges and victories they faced over the prior week.
Exhorter Ellen loves the vibes as folks relate to each other, and helps keep the conversation light and lively because it’s building bonds of affection within the group – which is what Ellen loves to see.
But she also senses that Mercy Mike is unusually quiet and withdrawn. Looking for the right opening so as to not embarrass him, Ellen asks Mike how he’s doing. Mike, always sensitive to God’s presence, says he feels that the Lord is calling them to new depths, that it will involve some hard issues, and that they need to spend time interceding for each other.
Ruler Ron (who doesn’t “rule” in the sense of command and control or even being an elder, but simply has a natural ability to keep things on track and bring order), senses that although the time of good-natured banter was of God, the Lord is shifting the meeting’s agenda (as often happens in open, participatory meetings) through Mike.
Ron doesn’t have Mike’s natural empathy for the heart of God, but his spiritual antenna certainly picks up on the meeting’s change in direction and instinctively feels the need to help facilitate that shift. He does so by asking if Mike feels (wisely knowing that mercies are more feeling than analytical) anything specific about what those issues might be. Mike says no, he just feels God wooing them toward something more.
This gets Prophetic Patty thinking. Something has been troubling her spirit for a couple of weeks, but she hasn’t been able to put her finger on it. She’s been feeling that change was coming, and now it becomes clear.
Patty has been sensing that the group has become too settled, too content, and God wants them to get out of their comfort zones and begin experiencing a deeper faith and relationship with Him. She sees it all come together in a flash, and can barely contain herself. “Yes,” she speaks up, “we are going to be facing some challenging times as God teaches us to step out in faith in new areas.”
Ever transparent, Patty then shares some specifics about her own shortcomings and her need to trust God as her source of validation and purpose – while seeking ever increasing faith.
Because Patty shares about her own shortcomings so transparently, and challenges the group with raw clarity and passion, others catch the vision and see how they too have become a little too content. They become convicted, and sense that God is about to jar them out of their comfort zones. But they are not sure how, or what to do about it.
It just so happens that Teacher Tom was led by the Lord to do an in-depth study over the last couple of weeks, during his devotional times, on the relationship between faith and repentance. There’s a pause in the group, as everyone contemplates what’s been said by Mike and Patty. Quietly, Tom opens his Bible and starts to share how we find faith through repentance, which involves letting God change what we think, feel and perceive so we then naturally (or supernaturally!) act and respond differently.
Tom shares non-judgmentally and with wisdom for about 20 minutes, soliciting active participation as others ask questions and share their own understanding. By so doing, he opens up God’s word in ways the group hasn’t seen before.
Giver Gwen is taking it all in, and her creative impulses kick into overdrive.
As the group has been interacting with Tom’s teaching, she sees a pattern emerging from the various comments. It seems to her that everyone individually, in their own way and perhaps not having yet having figured it all out, feels challenged to evangelistically reach others. But they feel unprepared and ill-equipped, causing insecurity and anxiety and a tendency to fall back into their comfort zones.
Gwen isn’t daunted by the problem, but feels excited by the opportunities this presents to forge solutions and find common purpose.
Gwen shares what she sees, and it resonates with the group. People open up and talk about how they feel inadequate over sharing the Gospel in meaningful, authentic and relational ways.
One brother admits that he stopped reaching out during the week to those who had been seeking Christ, because he didn’t want to deal with the mess in their lives. He acknowledged that his life, when he first started seeking Christ, was just as messy as theirs (if not more so). He felt convicted, but in a liberating way, because he now saw how others had extended the grace to him that he needed to extend to others.
Another sister confesses that she’d been sharing her hurts, insecurities and concerns about others in the group to visitors as she drove them home after the meetings, which is why they eventually stopped coming.
She asks for forgiveness, while admitting that it was an incredibly self-centered thing to do and it may have pushed some eternally away from Christ. The group prays for her, asks the Lord to protect those who may have been harmed, and some of the other sisters embrace her as the underlying conflict between them melts away.
Ever the networker, Giver Gwen jumps back in and says she knows of another home church that faced the same challenges and learned how to effectively, and in very practical ways, become the attractive and enticing Body of Christ that drew others to the Lord. She suggests that their fellowship invite the other church to come meet with them, share how to got out of their funk, and show them how to attract others to Christ.
Listening to all this, something begins stirring in Helper Harry. At last, something practical to do! With excitement he offers to do the leg work needed to pull together a joint meeting of the two churches, and starts throwing out some concrete ideas. The group also becomes excited and joins in as Ruler Ron leads them in a quick brainstorming session on what needs to be done, under Harry’s lead, to make it happen.
In the meantime, Ralph (who is another mercy and recognized within the fellowship as an elder because of his spiritual maturity and humble dedication to mentoring others in the faith), has been quietly and without comment watching the meeting proceed.
He’s pleased with the flow of ministry in the meeting and how everything seems to be coming together. However, he realizes that Mercy Mike started the ball rolling with a call to intercession, and Teacher Tom responded by challenged the group towards repentance.
He turns to Mike and asks if he’d lead them into a time of intercessory prayer and corporate repentance. Mike shakes his head yes – and with tears and gentleness starts touching the heart of God in intimate prayer and confession over his own lack of faith and complacency regarding the lost.
There is electricity in the group as they sense Mike ushering them into God’s presence, and one by one everyone drops to their knees to seek forgiveness. They pray some more and commit to doing God’s will. God’s favor falls on the group in a precious way as genuine repentance takes place – both individually and corporately.
Towards the end, Exhorter Ellen starts a song of praise, glorifying God for His love and His mercy. A couple of others follow with some simple songs of praise as the meeting draws to a close. The group finds unity and is edified as they exult the Lord.
Ruler Ron, sensing that God has accomplished His agenda for the night, summarizes their joint decision to ask the other house church to help them, then asks Bob to say a closing prayer as the group pours a bottle of sparking grape juice into individual cups (some in the group are former alcoholics, so they avoid wine).
With joy over what God has accomplished among them that evening, Bob prays over the fruit of the vine – representing the blood of Christ shed for the remission of sins. As they drink it, he then gives a benediction as the meal, and their time of fellowship, comes to a close.
~ Jim Wright
See Part 1: The Motivational Gifts
See Part 2: The Imperative of Participation