We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is preaching, then preach 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; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. – Romans 12
Fact: Rebekah really is an inspiration for me. I love the way she “lives faith out loud.” I am constantly lifted by the genuine passion she brings to everything she believes in.
- She’s 100% genuine;
- she never “presents” herself, because she’s not interested in playing those kinds of games;
- she doesn’t have to dial in her preacher persona because she doesn’t have one;
- and there’s no discontinuity between Rebekah in conversation, Rebekah at the grocery store, Rebekah in the pulpit, or Rebekah in her office.
My wife, in the words of a gracious gentleman who wanted to share some encouragement to me after I spoke at a Baptist men’s conference in Atlanta, “Has it going on!”
EVIDENCE: Anyway, all this was in evidence yesterday morning when she spent an hour doing an interview (that’s the picture at the top of this page) for a web-based resource known as “ChurchNext: Building Healthy Congregations.” Here’s the link at churchnext.tv (they expect to post her interview sometime mid-July).
ChurchNext had heard about Rebekah’s work in ministry and wanted to do a story that explores what makes a church like ours tick. We’re a mid-sized church (around 530 members) that acts like a large church. We’re vibrant and alive at a time when many congregations from our tradition are convalescing or on life-support.
So Rebekah set up her laptop on the dining room table while I corralled Scout in my office. I couldn’t hear Chris Yaw’s questions, but I did pick up most of Rebekah’s end of the dialogue. It turned out to be the same thing that happens anywhere/anytime we get into a conversation about ministry. It was no different from sitting at a conference table, leaning in around a dinner table, chatting around the coffee pot at a conference, eating lunch with other pastors at a Presbytery event, or interacting with a group of church leaders from out of town who are looking for some consultation/encouragement.
PASSION ROOTED IN JOY: I don’t want to take the magic out of Rebekah’s mojo by attempting to boil it down to its essential ingredients. But I can say that her vivid enthusiasm for ministry is rooted in joy. Rebekah is passionate about connecting people with Jesus in meaningful ways, simply because the truth of the Gospel is so real in her own experience; you just don’t ignore something like that, so the fact of vibrant faith necessarily spills over into everything that she does.
One reason this genuine enthusiasm resonates throughout our entire church is Rebekah’s calling to train and equip leaders. First Presbyterian Church of Brandon belongs to the people, the elders, and the other leaders who actually do the day-to-day work of ministry here. Rebekah’s gift is giving ministry away.
Consequently it’s not a matter of persuading people to be more involved, boosting attendance via gimmicks or guilt, or making Sunday mornings such an eye-popping show that people show up for the theater of it all. No, what works at our church is this sense of participation in the ongoing Gospel Story. People here do ministry because they are genuinely connected to God, and they worship Sunday mornings because they are with the people they love in the presence of the Savior we adore.
SALVATION: My personal theology of salvation – and you’ve read this here before – is that we are invited to participate in the ongoing work that God is “up to” in this world. Rebekah keeps the Gospel of Love so actively front and center that I can’t help but be encouraged and inspired to follow Jesus more closely.
All that (and more) seemed to be articulated very clearly in the ChurchNext interview. It just happens to be my special privilege to live with such joy and passion and encouragement every day….
“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” – Romans 12