Podcast Transcript

Reset

Part 11: Serving | March 18, 2018

 

JONATHAN

Hello, and thanks for joining us this morning. I’m Jonathan Deatherage. I’m here with Pete Briscoe after he preached his eleventh sermon on the Reset series on “Serving” from Acts chapter 6. Let’s dive in a little deeper with Pete to discuss this.

Pete, thanks for joining us this morning.

PETE

Thank you, Jonathan. Great to be here.

JONATHAN

Now, this is an interesting perspective as someone who’s in ministry myself. I have to admit, there’s something I really appreciated about this message today. Honestly, I think I’ve never even heard the idea of where the concept of the laity came from. So it was really enlightening to hear that. I really appreciated that message.

I love that you were challenging that paradigm of who does the work of the church. So, first question is: If you’re sitting across the table from someone who’s saying that paradigm of, “Oh the pastor does the work of the church,” what would you say to this person? How does that attitude tend to stunt their growth, or their opportunity to grow in their faith?

PETE

Oh, it stunts it incredibly. We’ve been around long enough, Jonathan, to know that so much spiritual growth happens in the foxholes, right?

JONATHAN

Mmhm.

PETE

It happens in the trenches. We’re stretched beyond our comfort zone, or the Spirit prompts us to do something that we don’t feel equipped to do, or we’re asked to teach on something that we don’t understand so we’ve got to learn it before we can teach it. There’s a hundred different examples of how serving is just one of the primary tools in God’s tool kit to form us, and to grow us, and to challenge us.

I think it’s a diabolical idea that the pastor does the work, and we sit and watch. If that seed takes full root in the Church, the Church will crumble. It’s that devastating, because the whole beauty of the Church is that it gathers and then it scatters.

Our church literally scatters to the four corners of the earth. What took Paul his whole life to travel, our people travel in a week. They’re having conversations with people that need Christ. If they have the idea, “Well, the ministry is Pete preaching,” then 99.9% of the ministry is never going to get done. It’s a devastating mindset that has to be routed out.

JONATHAN

I love that you brought out the New Covenant reality that it is because of the work of Christ that, as the New Testament clearly says, all believers have a priesthood, have a ministry that Christ has given to each one of us. I love that.

PETE

Yup. And the gifting commensurately. As my dad used to say, “If God made you (which he did), and if God has a plan for your life (which he does), and if God isn’t stupid (which, of course, he’s not), then he made you perfect for the plan that he has for you.” He’s wired you commensurate to the plan. If you can figure out how he’s wired you, you can figure out the gifts he’s given you, you’re going to have a pretty good feel for what he wants you to be about.

JONATHAN

So let’s talk about that a little bit. Maybe I’m somebody listening right now, and I’m thinking, “You know, I like what I’m hearing. I want to shift my perspective to see where I am as a place of service, a place of ministry to the Lord.” But maybe I’m struggling. Help me here. Help me get there. What are some practical things I could do to help shift my perspective?

PETE

You know what? I just had a conversation [about this]. In between services we have a meeting with all the people that are involved in all the different aspects of the service, and we debrief how first hour went and talk about second hour. Today I noticed that there was a young girl there, and she’s wearing the all-black outfit of the people that work behind the scenes of the stage. She’s one of my baristas at the local Starbucks that has been serving me. And I know she’s a Bent Tree-er, we’ve had conversations. So I just went over and said, “What are you doing here!” And she goes, “You know, I have a degree in tech. And I just thought, ‘Hey, I could probably help.’” [he laughs]

She [decided to] just raise her hand and say, “Do you need help?” So she’s being trained today. I mean, it could be something as simple as that.

Look at how you were trained. Were you trained in social services? Come talk to Michelle Harrell about helping with the Benevolence Ministry. Were you trained in psychology or counseling? Come talk to Michelle about helping people with counseling issues. Were you trained in the business community? Come ask at the church who needs help with the books. You’re an accountant. Whatever [it is], just look at how you’re trained. Look at how God’s poured into you. Look at your experiences, and your expertise, your gifting. Just say, “If God was looking at all this and wanted to employ this person in his kingdom work, what would be the logical place to start?” And then go volunteer.

You may find out that that’s not where he wants you, but that’s fine. In the course of that, you’ll probably figure out where it is. What I can tell you, is that if you’re just sitting watching, you’ll never figure it out. At some point you’ve got to take a prompting of the Spirit and step into something. It’s in that process that he’ll start to lead and correct you.

JONATHAN

Totally. Just for a clarifying question here, I noticed the examples you gave were a lot of “What are you doing professionally, and how can you use it in the church.” Are you talking about serving in the church specifically, or are you talking about both/and?

PETE

I think that’s the beauty of the Acts 6 passage, right? It started with them serving in the church, but at the end of the story Stephen is out debating in the synagogues, right? [he laughs] So I think there’s something to that. I think if we step into ministry in the church, we start to figure out who we are. We start to grow like crazy. And that starts to influence our impact in the world. If we’re not doing anything in the church, then it’s harder to get engaged in the world, I think, for a lot of people.

JONATHAN

Maybe it requires serving in the church to be able to recognize the holy vocation of what you’re actually gifted to do, like you said.

PETE

Yes, mmhmm.

JONATHAN

So maybe that begins the paradigm shift of saying, “I see how God can use this part of my life.”

PETE

Yes, yes! He has an avenue. He can now speak into you as you’re trying things and failing (or it’s working). It’s in that dialogue with him that he can lead you, and ultimately that will impact the way you impact the world.

JONATHAN

That’s so cool. That’s the Life in the Spirit we’ve been talking about.

PETE

Yes!

JONATHAN

It’s the risk. Being willing to fail, and being there as a family to encourage each other. Hey maybe this is where God’s calling you. Maybe this is what he’s doing in your life. That’s cool.

PETE

Libby and I were talking to our son, Cameron, and his wife, Megan, last night. Cam’s in the business community, and he’s being trained. One of the things he was taught recently was that the opposite of success is not failure. The opposite of success is apathy, because any successful person you’ve ever met has failed hundreds of times. Failure is actually a step towards success, right?

And the same is true in ministry. It’s not like you have an epiphany one day, he tells you what to do, you step into it, and it works. [they laugh]

JONATHAN

Stone tablets from the mountain.

PETE

Yeah! It just doesn’t work that way.

Try something. And if it doesn’t work, chalk that up to a learning, and [say], “I’m going to try this now.” And all of a sudden, one day you’ll be like, “Wait, this is clicking. This works.” And once you find that you’ll never turn back, because there’s such joy and fulfillment in being used by God in that way. The thought of not doing it anymore would be like, “Are you kidding? You’re going to have to wrestle this from me.” That’s what it’s like when you find it. It takes a little while to find it sometimes.

JONATHAN

I loved how you gave the example of somebody saying to you, “Tell me how you were called into ministry.” And then you gave some great examples at the end of people who are doing ministry where they are. [That’s] a lot of what we’re talking about here. I’d love to hear you take a minute and dream here. What could happen in our church if everyone recognized that they were called to the ministry of where they are?

PETE

That’s a great question. And the answer is [that] what we see in Acts could happen again. I mean, that’s how huge this is. If everyone in our church (if you’re talking Carrollton, and Frisco, Milwaukee, our online community--we’re talking thousands and thousands and thousands of people), if every single one of them understood this and stepped into it, entire communities would be changed. That’s the beauty of a large church like this, is that the potential impact is staggering. It all comes down to one person saying, “This is about me.” And then another person saying, ”This is about me.”

So it’s the stay-at-home mom looking at the play groups she’s got in her neighborhood with the little kids and thinking, “Okay, this isn’t just a relief for me to get my kids out of the house for a few hours once every few weeks. This is the community God’s entrusted to me. So what does he want to do through me in these women’s lives and in these kids’ lives?” And start taking those risks.

It’s the coach at the local, public high school who sees a kid who’s hurting and struggling, and he has to decide, “Am I going to pour into Christ or not?”

And that’s a scary thing. I mean, I get it. That’s hard. But if you see yourself as called to ministry in that place, that’s an easier decision (as opposed to this-is-my-job-ministry, something the pastor does). I mean, you can see the difference in the paradigm there. It’s a totally different experience. Your decisions are different.

JONATHAN

I think it flips the question from, “What am I here to get,” to “What am I here to give?”

PETE

Yup.

JONATHAN

I know [my wife] Erin and I have had many moments recently where we’re in this friendship to receive something from them. What is it we’re doing in this situation, or this group of people? And it’s easy to get in that receive mode. What are they giving me?

PETE

Yup.

JONATHAN

But then being able to flip the question to say, “Wait a minute. There’s a need that we’re seeing, and maybe God’s put us here in this context and these relationships to give to them something. What could God be trying to do through us?”

PETE

Yeah, and once again, we’re both (even though you’re much younger than me), we’re both old enough to know that true joy in life is found in pouring into other people. It’s not found in receiving from other people. There’s happiness that comes in receiving. I’m not going to say there’s not. But true, lasting joy comes from when you see someone that you’re pouring into growing and developing, stepping into things that they never would have. I mean, that’s life, man! That’s a blast!

And that’s the New Covenant mindset, isn’t it? Christ poured into me; I’m going to let him pour through me into others. I’m just a part of this conduit of his grace and Life in people’s lives. That’s the abundant Life right there.

JONATHAN

There’s so much purpose and meaning in that situation. I love it. I love it.

Well, would you pray for us, to that end?

PETE

Yeah, let’s pray.

Father, thank you for including us in your work. It’s so cool. I still am in awe that you love me the way you do, and you choose to use me the way you do. I know Jonathan feels the same way. It’s a beautiful thing. I long for all my people to experience this.

So do a work in our church. Do a work in us individually. I pray that this mindset would settle in, that, “This is about me. It’s not just about other people. It’s about me, and what God wants to do through me.” And I pray for great encouragement in people’s hearts as they contemplate these things. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

JONATHAN

Amen. [to audience] Thank you for listening today. As always, Bent Tree is a church that encourages everyone to experience the fullness and freedom of Jesus in everyday life. It’s our hope and prayer that through this time you are encouraged to grow and to live available to him this week. Thanks for listening.