People will support the church that meets the needs in their lives or touches the needs and lives of their loved ones. Not only must the church meet the needs, but it must also meet the needs when they occur.
The church that can meet a person’s specific need when it occurs will have the best chance of reaching that person for Christ.
There are two kinds of needs: felt needs and real needs. Sometimes the felt needs are not real needs, or the real needs are not felt by a person. The church must meet those needs, sometimes pointing out the real need in the person’s life so that it becomes a felt need. Other times the felt need must be met first in order to discover the real need. Therefore, the church must meet both felt and real needs.
How can that best be done? By encouraging church members to use their Spiritual Gifts to meet the needs of non-believers in the community.
For every need in the life of an unsaved person, there is a spiritual gift that helps reach that person for Christ.
When the lost receive Christ, there are still needs to meet. The people of your church can come to the rescue, meeting those needs through the spiritual gifts God gave for that purpose.
What I really want to explain here is how the balanced church meets all the needs that exist in the body. But first I must address the purpose of the church. For only a church that is effectively fulfilling its God-given purpose can effectively minister to the needs of its community and members (see the article, “Why God Gave Us His Church and His Book”).
When people talk of Team building in the church, much of the emphasis is put on “ministry teams.” This is good, but there is another larger “ministry Team” in the church with even greater potential—the local church itself.
A local church is a single congregation, made up of many members. The Body of Christ, some use the term “Universal Church,” is made up of many local churches. The references here are to the single congregation—the local church.
A healthy church meets the needs of its members and reaches out to the community it serves. A healthy church is balanced as Paul spells out in Ephesians 4:16, “From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” A healthy church grows (increases in numbers by reaching people for Christ) and edifies or builds itself up (ministers to the needs within its own body). A healthy church ministers outside the body and to the body from within the body. A healthy church balances its ministry with the gifts God has given it.
God has given us spiritual gifts to balance the church and to meet needs.
A number of years ago, I started teaching an adult Sunday school class. I was young and had never taught before, nor had I received any teacher training. I realized that if I was going to be successful, not only did I need to teach certain material, I had to meet definite needs in the lives of my students. My classes didn’t always go the way I had hoped. Whenever I bombed out, being an analytical person, I always asked the question, “Why didn’t it work?” I really wanted to do it right, so I would head to the Christian bookstore to buy a new book.
My studies reinforced the fact that if I was going to minister and reach people, I had to meet several needs in their lives—not just one or two needs—to effectively minister to the whole person.
Later, through an in-depth study of spiritual gifts, I was amazed as God pointed out to me the correlation between these needs and the spiritual gifts. The characteristics of each spiritual gift met a need that was evident. The more I studied, the more I could see how they dovetailed together perfectly. On one side were the people’s needs that had to be met, and on the other side were the spiritual gifts with dominant characteristics that would minister to the needs.
This chart is the result of that study. The left side lists the needs that the church must meet in a person’s life if the person is to mature as a Christian. The other side of the chart is the gift that predominantly ministers to that particular need.
In my book Team Ministry: Gifted to Serve, How Spiritual Gifts Can Unleash the Power of Everybody, we look at each of the needs on this chart one at a time and see how God has equipped the church to minister to them (see pages 72-82).
Everyone has needs. God has always used men and women to accomplish His plan. His plan is for everyone’s needs to be met; therefore, His plan is for His people to meet the needs of others.
Every person in the church should have a part in meeting the needs of people in the church and community.
Your responsibility then is to exercise the spiritual gifts God has given you in a Team effort with the rest of the diversely gifted Body of Christ to meet all the needs of every person possible.
The more individual church members minister in this manner, the more balanced the church will be. The more balanced the church is, the healthier it will be. The healthier the church is, the more it will grow numerically and spiritually. The more lasting numerical and spiritual growth takes place, the more God will be honored.
Dr. Larry Gilbert is founder and chairman of Ephesians Four Ministries, and founder of ChurchGrowth.org. For more on spiritual gifts, see Dr. Gilbert’s books: Team Ministry: Gifted to Serve (for pastors and group leaders, from which this article was excerpted) and Your Gifts: Discover God’s Unique Design for You (for individuals and groups).
Here are more free articles, one for each of the nine Team Ministry Spiritual Gifts…
- Do You Have the Spiritual Gift of Shepherding?
- Do You Have the Spiritual Gift of Administration?
Discover more about your spiritual gifts and each of the nine team gifts.
For individuals and groups.
Lead others to discover their spiritual gifts.
For pastors and group leaders.