During Thursday morning's Laity Session held at First United Methodist Church in Shreveport, Rev. Mike Slaughter, lead pastor of Ginghamsburg UMC in Ohio, told Conference Laity that they are his "heroes" and "she-roes." "Clergy get paid. You do this because you love Jesus," he said, getting a laugh from the audience.
Slaughter, featured speaker for AC2016: Rooted and Grounded
, also told AC2016
delegates during Thursday evening worship in the Gold Dome, "Every miracle is part divine intervention and human responsibility. . . . Faith actions precede faith results. We have a part to play by acting on God's directive."
Followers of Christ are called to be “the hands and feet of the church,” said Slaughter. “Not to sit in meetings, not to serve on committees. And we are NOT saved to wait for heaven. We are saved to be put to work for heaven.”
It costs something to be a follower of Jesus, he explained.
To effectively serve in the church, Christians should know more about their “spiritual gifts,” said Slaughter, emphasizing that these gifts are not the same thing as a “talent.” “Lebron James is incredibly talented. Talents are God given, but we can use that talent independently of God,” he added.
Spiritual gifts, however, are “supernatural” gifts of the Holy Spirit, said Slaughter. “The reason you have these gifts is to equip God’s people for works of service so that the body of Christ can be built up.”
Often, churches make the mistake of expecting the pastor to possess every gift, counting on their church leader to excel at every function necessary to maintain a healthy church ministry. Slaughter reminded Louisiana Annual Conference members that the “pastor is not the head . . . Jesus is the head.” The spiritual gifts given to the laity are “equal” to the gifts given to their pastors.
“I don’t have the gift of pastoring—a supernatural gift of the Holy Spirit. I do have the gifts of teaching and evangelism,” said Slaughter.
If expected to excel at all church functions, laity will continually be disappointed in the performance of their clergy. “The pastor does not have all the gifts . . . we wonder why the sermons are bad; (pastors) don’t have time to do it all,” he added.
The pastor from Ginghamsburg UMC gave an example of how members of the church’s laity have assumed a function which falls into a category that does not align with his specific spiritual gifts—the function is the church’s “care pastoring” ministry.
Ginghamsburg, due to its worship attendance of more than 4,500 people, has a tremendous number of hospital and other visitation opportunities. Having enough staff to cover these calls and visits is unrealistic. The “care pastoring” team at the Ohio church is largely comprised of lay volunteers who possess the spiritual gifts needed to carry out this essential ministry.
“You have the anointing,” Slaughter told lay delegates to AC2016.
“(It is) activated by faith, demonstrated through works. We have all these anointings in the church, lying dormant because they have not been put to use. . . Life is short. Can you imagine dying without activating this resource?
When Mike Slaughter arrived at Ginghamsburg UMC more than 37 years ago, the church had only 58 members. “The town was a little, out of the way place with 22 houses,” said Slaughter, who had grown up in Cincinnati and was suffering from culture shock with the move to this tiny town.
Like most United Methodist churches, it was “functioning” in the traditional institutional way that church’s tend to be organized. The members, because their numbers were small, were stretched thin, serving on “every committee there was.”
The traditional structure is committee based, with those groups gathering repeatedly but with nothing happening “because we serve the structure of the local church. Most has to do with keeping the doors open.”
“Jesus did not die for buildings,” Slaughter reminded the audience.
Using the missional model at Ginghamsburg, the church no longer appoints committees. “There is no nomination report,” said Slaughter. Instead, the pastor identifies and invites leaders within the church to recruit, equip and empower ministry teams that are sent out to do the work of the church. Through this model, Ginghamsburg is equipping “missional leaders.”
When Slaughter approached one Ginghamsburg member and asked, “What is your dream or passion?,” this member replied said that he wanted to do something about the addiction problem in town and the nearby city of Dayton, Ohio. Once recruited by Slaughter, the volunteer found the financial resources and the people to start the Joshua Recovery Ministry. “There are now five men’s residences in Dayton focusing on this addiction recovery ministry,” he said.
Powerful ministry can come out of a small church. “If you think that nothing will happen in your little church, guess what will happen—nothing. Faith is the most under-utilized asset in our local churches. We have not redeemed what has already been paid for with a price,” said Slaughter.
Ginghamsburg is “just a little church; we don’t have the resources,” he added. But we are the “only hands and feet Jesus has. Why does God let people starve? God doesn’t, we do!”
Our local churches need to recognize that we are in many ways paralyzed, he emphasized. “We need a daily relationship with God. When we are not filled with the Spirit, we revert to the law—life is not in ‘the book,’ it is in ‘me.’”
Faith actions precede faith results, said Slaughter. Before the miracle of the fishes and the loaves, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where will we send these people for something to eat?” And, Jesus said, “You will give them something to eat.” “We are God’s bank account. Release it to increase it. They put (the fishes and the lovaes) in the hands of Jesus, Jesus blessed it and gave it back. They fed 5,000.”
At Ginghamsburg UMC, donors who have given $1,000 or more toward mission for the year are treated to a picnic and a video that captures all of the mission work that has been accomplished during the last 12 months. When people can see the results of their donations, they are inclined to give again and to give more, Slaughter said.