What good is a gift if you never unwrap it?
Bill Hybels, founding pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, is famous for saying that the local church is the hope of the world. He has championed the investment in the gift of leadership found in Romans 12:8 through development of the Global Leadership Summit. Why? Because all of us received gifts of the Holy Spirit when we invited Christ to lead our lives. The development of these gifts is our responsibility. It is our privilege to use them to grow the local church, the hope of the world. We will be asked how we used all the gifts God gave us when we get to heaven.
When I became a Christian, I was able to build on a great foundation I received from the church of my childhood. As I hungered for more of God, I looked for people who could help me grow closer to him. I found two women who mentored me, especially in prayer. As we prayed together, we became part of the prayer team who prayed for CedarCreek when it was still in the idea phase. We dreamed about the church God wanted us to plant. I learned and grew in my trust, obedience, and courage as we believed in God’s plans for our baby church.
Planting a new church was difficult. It required a faith that was challenged, often daily, as we tried to discern God’s will and receive his provision. We had no money. I remember Founding Pastor Lee Powell and Elder Steve Hutmacher (“Hooty”) trying to find people with the means to resource our young church. That big payday never happened. What did happen was that as a core group, we did all we could with the gifts we had. God made it be enough (Ephesians 3:20-21). We grew as individuals and as members of the body of Christ that became CedarCreek Church. God developed in us a resiliency and a never-give-up attitude that saw our young church through many, many challenges that became opportunities, to the place where we are today, 5 (soon to be 6!) campuses, and 8,000-9,000 people in attendance weekly.
As we grew as a church, God brought new people to the work. One of those, while we were still at the Perrysburg Junior High in 1998, was a college student named Ben Snyder. He showed up and began getting involved, praying, serving, and singing (yes, he was part of the worship team for a time!). Then he brought a beautiful young woman, Lauren, who was ‘all in’ as well! God gave us the opportunity to watch as they grew in their relationship with him and each other. Over time, their faithfulness and devotion to God’s mission for CedarCreek Church paid off in marriage, full-time ministry, and leadership. Today, they are our senior leaders. But their story is only one of thousands of those who came, connected, committed, and now serve.
Why does it matter? What if we said it was too much trouble to use the gifts God gave us? What if we had said, “I can’t afford to give, I don’t have time to pray, I don’t have the courage to lead”? The miracle that is CedarCreek Church was built using the gifts God gave to those who were willing to use them. We will have an opportunity in heaven to celebrate the way we allowed God to use our gifts to build his church. Our joy is to join with the people God brings to help all of us grow in love, faith, compassion, and grace. You can be part of the next chapter of the mission God has given our church. That’s why it matters. Matthew West has a song that says, “If not now, then when? If not us, then who? If not me and you, right now! It’s time for us to do something!”
Do you know what your spiritual gifts are?
Is there someone you can encourage to use their gifts in our church?
Attend week 3 of GrowthTrack and take the spiritual gifts test. Week 3 of GrowthTrack takes place the third week of every month.
Talk to someone about how to use your gifts, like your serve team leader or your Group Leader.
Take the next step in developing and using your spiritual gifts by joining a DreamTeam.
O Lord, I am so grateful for the gifts you have given me and for the opportunities you have given to develop and use them. I pray that you continue to give me opportunities to invest in these gifts and in your church. I pray that you give us all the desire and the courage to develop our gifts and use them to further your church here on earth, so that we can celebrate the beauty of your bride, the church, in heaven! Amen.
This post was written by Lauri White. Lauri is one of the 25 people who God used to start CedarCreek 21 years ago, and was on staff until 2013. She and her husband Mike love to travel the country in their motor home with their kitties Jane & Mary. Lauri is passionate about prayer, and about helping women discover who they are in Christ. She doesn’t tweet but you can follow her and Mike’s adventures on Facebook.
Want to be a part of the LivingItOut team?
We are always looking for people who are passionate about writing and proofing to serve on the LivingItOut team. If you are interested, email LIO@cedarcreek.tv today!