January 22nd, 2013
Women Leaders Breakfast Devotional –
I Believe in the Body of Christ
Good morning Ladies! Thank you for taking the time out of your busy weekends to come here today. I know it’s a big sacrifice. And I so appreciate having you all here.
My name is Angela Van Lierop. I am a pastor here at EFC – I function mainly as the Women’s Ministries Coordinator, and an Individual Care Pastor. Outside of my work at EFC, I’m married (12 years to Paul), and a mom to 2 boys (12 and 9). I’m a very devoted mother and have a special interest in supporting our local school district through volunteerism and advocacy work.
I want to start off today by saying: I believe God is who He says He is. I believe we are who God says we are. And I believe in the Body of Christ. If you brought a Bible, feel free to open it with me. We are going to feast a little on scripture today. And we will start in Ephesians 4, there you will see that Paul has devoted a chapter of this letter explaining the Body of Christ. This chapter has so much meaning to me; I thought I’d pick out some highlight verses to share with you:
1 – I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us a grace has been given as Christ apportioned it….
11 – So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the Body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Let’s also take a look at Romans 12:
3 – For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members (parts), and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve, if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; it if is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
How about one more quick bite of God’s Word over in 1 Corinthians 12:
7 – Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit (the gifts of the Spirit) is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.
In these passages, we find Paul explaining to the churches what exactly it means to be a part of the Body of Christ. It’s a message of faith, of love, of listening, of generosity, and of obedience.
Who gives the gifts? And establishes these roles? The Spirit
What is the purpose of these gifts and/or roles? To equip and build up the Body of Christ, bring it to maturity, to establish unity within the Body of Christ as we come up under his “headship”, to benefit “the common good” in our church family and eventually in our communities!
So you might be asking – why eventually? Aren’t we supposed to be reaching out to our neighbors, to poor, and non-believers right now? It’s Missions Month!
My answer is yes, yes, yes, and yes it is Missions Month! But let me explain to you my thought process. I read a book by Bill Hybels a couple years ago, and in it he said one little phrase that will stick with me forever – “The local church is the hope of the world”. And I thought, that can’t be! It’s Jesus! And I’m beginning to understand, yes it is Jesus, but Jesus no longer walks with us on this earth as a man. He is in Heaven, and thankfully coming again soon! Right now, our neighbors are stuck walking through life with us. And so we had better make sure that the Body of Christ is representing Jesus well.
Paul’s words here should take a little of the pressure off, because what I hear him saying is that our role is to listen, receive, and obey. He is the one giving the gifts as He discerns they are needed. He is the one empowering us and equipping us. Our job is to receive with an open heart, and humbly obey. He even promises to help us. And I believe that if we will learn to listen and hear our calling, then work cooperatively with our other brothers and sisters in Christ, something AWESOME is going to happen. We will benefit our church – we will encourage, strengthen, teach, mentor, support, and empower others to grow in their faith and come to maturity. And, we will be unleashing a powerful force of love and truth out into our communities.
Remember this passage in Romans 10: 14 – How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in. And, how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!?
Developing our calling –
So maybe you are saying now – I’m just here because I wanted to help plan the retreat. Or maybe you were just invited her as a small group leader. Or you are working in another area of ministry? And I’m saying to you – PERFECT! Because the truth is that we all have different gifts and different ministry “burdens”. If you are truly listening to God, he will give you some insight as to where he can strategically place you, in this season of your life, for “the common good”. The important thing is that you are listening and obeying.
In a church the size of EFC, leadership has many different faces and tasks. It takes the shape of pastors, and teachers, mentors, administrators, and artists, those who cast vision, community group facilitators, youth workers, musicians, techno wizards, prayer team members…. I could go on and on. I think it’s almost easiest to say that leaders are those who are keeping a look-out for the needs in our community, those who will bring those needs to God in prayer, and then will obey when God decides to do something about those needs. And one of the nice things about being in a church this size, is that there are plenty of hands to share the load. We can accomplish great amounts of work when we do the things God has gifted us to do, while working on a team of individuals with a wide variety of spiritual gifts. So for those of you who are saying – I’m no pastor! I would say to you fine – just play your position! Our team will work together to get the job done.
Don’t be fooled, the Body of Christ STILL needs to hear the Good News –
Jesus said in Matthew – Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
He asks us to go out and share the good news – Jesus saves! He needs us to make disciples. And some of us have probably had the honor of sharing the gospel with a friend or family member, and maybe even been able to walk them into the Kingdom of God. But, I would say – especially now as a pastor – the Body of Christ still needs to hear the good news. In this church alone we have disciples who have definitely made a decision for Christ, but they aren’t following him. Sometimes they are lagging behind, sometimes their feet are tied-up, and sometimes they have broken legs…
I wish I could share with you all of the heartbreaking things I’ve heard from the many different women I have met with – most of them from our own church. But, to keep their confidentiality I can only say that many of our women are:
- Disconnected from other believers
- Grieving losses
- They are stuck in spiritual ruts
- They feel distant to God
- Fearful of the world we live in, and the sin that seems so rampant
- Some are even struggling in abusive relationships
And I’m asking you to please, step out of your comfort-zone and figure out your role in helping these women. It’s a burden that is too heavy for your pastors to bear. And building them up will lead to sweeping changes in their lives, their families, and our church.
There is a “saying” going around on Facebook that says something like this:
There comes a time in life when you have to let go of all the pointless drama and the people who create it and surround yourself with people who make you laugh so hard that you focus solely on the good. After all, life is too short to be anything but happy.
Now, this sounds like a reasonable, even “healthy” way to maintain positive relationships. But, I read this as a leader, and a servant of the gospel and I actually start to get a little mad. Because, you see, I believe that we are meant to bring God’s transformational love into people’s lives. And in order to do so, we have to accept that we are soldiers in the midst of “hand to hand” combat. The Body of Christ cannot afford to broadcast mass communications and hope that the people who need Jesus will hear it and respond. We have to be willing to make relationships with people who are a little “messy”. We have to be willing to sacrifice happiness sometimes – to grieve with those who grieve, and support those who are broken.
This is what it means to be a leader. While people are retreating from a difficult situation to their comfortable friendships, a leader will walk in with a healing word of truth, and they will patiently stay until the needy person reaches out and grasps it from their hands.
So, are you ready to join the team? And I promise, I’m not asking you to preach a sermon (though if you want to, let me know…) or do anything that you don’t feel comfortable doing. I’m just asking you to let God break your hearts for the needs of this church, and then asking Him to show you how you can put your gifts to use. I’m confident that He is raising up all the leaders we need to get our work done. So, you can join me, and some of the other ladies and help us put together this Spring Retreat. Or you can pray about putting together a community group. Or maybe you’d like to be a part of EFC’s Hospitality team, or Children’s Ministry, we are not lacking for opportunities. But, as the Women’s Pastor, I just want you to know that I’m here (not to mention Molly, Mel, Susie, Cheryl, and other EFC staff) to build you up in your ministry. And if there is any way I can help you with resources, or support, please let me know. It’s an honor and a privilege for me to play my part in building up the Body of Christ – because I believe in doing so – we can be who God says we are.
January 2nd, 2013
Finding our Place in Service
I’m writing today to start a discussion on leadership within the Body of Christ. Specifically this post is dedicated to the women I am so happy to serve with at Eastside Foursquare. Ladies, as you know we have a couple of events coming up, and I wanted to utilize my blog as a place to cast vision and host meaningful discussions on ministry and leadership. But, before I get to that, here is some basic info on the task we are about to embark on:
Save the Date!
Women Leaders Breakfast – Saturday, January 19th, 8:00 am to 11:30 am at Eastside Foursquare Church. Breakfast, Biblical Teaching on Leadership Development, and Spring Retreat Planning Meeting. Please RSVP through Evite, or by emailing me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Discuss Felt Needs of Women in Congregation, and choose which needs to address at the upcoming retreat
- Choose Retreat Theme
- Choose Teaching Topics
- Assign tasks to those wishing to join planning team
- Pray for the planning process and planning team
Spring Women’s Retreat – Friday, April 26th through Sunday, April 28th at Cascades Camp (Yelm, WA).
Getting down to Business
Okay, so now maybe your curiosity is peaked and you are thinking about joining our team. Maybe you’ve even prayed about it and you are wondering if God is “nudging” you to join. But you (like most the women I know) are pretty busy, and maybe you don’t really feel like you have much to offer, right? Well, before you start to talk yourself out of it, give me just a few moments to strengthen your resolve.
Top 5 reasons YOU should consider joining our planning team:
- You DO have something to give, because God equips those he calls. So, just take a day or two and ask the Lord if this team and this project is something He is calling you to. If you think it’s possible, but still need some affirmation, then read on.
- Your gifts were given to you, because God intended for you to use them to serve the Body of Christ (the Church). In fact, I would dare to say, He is depending on you to put those gifts to good use. We have the very lovely task of being Jesus’ hands and feet to one another and to our community!
- Maybe you are just looking for a way to get more connected with other women in the church? Well, I can say from experience that those who serve together, stick together. Working on a team with other women gives you plenty of opportunity to build connections, and will knit your hearts together around a common goal. And you know what, at the very least, I want to get to know YOU!
- Is your time limited? Joining the Retreat Planning team is a perfect outlet for busy women. We have 4 months to put this event together. If you join our team, we will prayerfully help you to find a specific task or role that takes into consideration the amount of time you have to invest. And I will personally make sure to provide you with the resources and support needed to get your job done. As we move along in our work, you will be amazed to see how God weaves together our efforts in such a way that our retreat will be a huge blessing to all the women who attend.
- God uses experiences like these to shape us and draw us to Himself. This is a great opportunity to step out of your comfort zone, and let God meet you in a new way. Come with an open heart ready to serve and learn alongside some wonderful women of our community. If you are like me, you’ll find yourself blessed by being a part of the group.
Okay, so those are just a few tidbits to whet your appetite. Please let me know if you have any questions. And please plan to attend our Women Leaders’ Breakfast. I have some more things to share on the topic, and I look forward to getting down to business!
With much affection and hope for the task ahead,
Angela Van Lierop