Play to Your Strengths

For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us…

-Romans 12:4-6a

What are you good at? Or, to put it another way, what are you gifted at? Too often, I hear people answer this question in the negative: “Well, I’m not as good at this as so-and-so,” or “I wish I were better at this-and-that.” That’s no way to answer the question. Paul, in his letter to the Romans, insists that we do have a variety of different gifts. So what are your gifts?

This is a question to answer as individuals, and also to answer as congregations. What are our gifts within a particular congregation? What do we have going for us and our ministry?

Too often, I hear small churches bemoan that they don’t have the resources, the programs, the staff available at a big church. I’ve thought it myself on occasion: if only we had more people, or money, or, or…

I’ve realized that this is just the wrong attitude. All of these complaints are versions of one question: “What are we missing?” Instead, we should be asking: “What has God given us?”

Let me tell you what I see. In this pandemic, small churches might not have all the latest and greatest audiovisual equipment to produce professional-quality online worship, but we’ve got determined and creative people who are used to figuring out how to make do with what we have. Right now, we don’t have to figure out how to get hundreds or even thousands of people back to in-person worship; we’re talking about several dozen worshipers. We have a big enough lawn and plenty of street parking to make outdoor worship logistics a breeze. We can get feedback from everyone impacted by decisions in a matter of hours, not days or weeks. We can borrow a portable sound system. We can make a couple dozen spare masks and be sure that’s enough in case anyone forgets. We can borrow an electric keyboard for music. We can still livestream for worshipers who choose to remain at home. We live in a place with weather that we can stand sitting outdoors for 40 minutes on Sunday mornings in July.

These are gifts. These are strengths in a time of change. These are evidence of God’s grace given to us. These are the things we need to focus on in trouble– not what we think we need, but what we already have from God.

When we focus on our strengths, our gifts, we begin to see that those strengths are exactly what we need in adversity. We begin to see how to use our gifts to rise to the challenges ahead of us. We begin to see that we have had what we needed all along because God has provided all along.

Small churches, we’ve got this. God’s got this, and God’s got us, and God’s getting us through. God’s grace is enough to carry us through a pandemic to the life awaiting us on the other side.

God, in my life and in my congregation, help me see the gifts and strengths you give. Let those gifts be used in service you to and to my neighbors for the sake of the gospel. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

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