According to the Bible, every Christian has been given at least one spiritual gift to use in service to the body of Christ. “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 4:10–11; compare Ephesians 4:11–16). So, ideally, the first step in determining how to serve in the church is for every believer to discover what his/her spiritual gifts are. Usually, the gifts are related to areas in our lives which unmask our greatest strengths—administration, teaching, hospitality, etc. (see Romans 12:6–8; 1 Corinthians 12:4–11, 28).
There is a difference between the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12–13) and the local church Christians attend for corporate worship (Hebrews 10:25). But there is no difference in how Christians ought to use their spiritual gifts, because serving God is a twenty-four-hour proposition, not a Sunday-only enterprise. For example, if one has the gift of exhortation (encouraging people to be all God desires), the blessing of the gift should not be limited to the local body of believers. All Christians everywhere should be serving God in their local churches and looking for opportunities to serve outside the walls of a church building (2 Corinthians 9:12–13). It may be difficult to discover which spiritual gift(s) God has bestowed, but it’s better to serve anywhere there is a need than nowhere at all (Romans 12:11). Often, the discovery of gifts becomes more clear in the doing—as we serve in various jobs, we learn what we are good at and what we have a heart for (1 Chronicles 28:9).
Every local congregation has more needs than willing workers; this was true in Christ’s day and is still true today (Matthew 9:37). It’s never a problem to find a need in the local church. From evangelizing the community (which all Christians are called to do, Mark 16:15) to cleaning the bathrooms, there is always plenty of work to be done. It is good to inquire of the church leadership. Have a conversation with the pastor and elders about what jobs are open and how they may or may not be suited for you.
Here are a few examples of positions of service in local congregations:
• Sunday School and Bible study teachers (once vetted)
• Children and youth leaders
• Janitors and maintenance workers to upkeep the building and grounds
• Transportation workers for those unable to drive or for children
• Outreach workers
• Choir members and/or gifted vocalists
• Music directors, song leaders, etc.
Every member of every church should be serving in some way, and every member of every church should also not forget the most important way to serve one another, which is by love (Galatians 5:14). Serving one another by love may mean offering to babysit while a young couple has a night out, preparing a meal for a family struck by illness, visiting an elderly widow who can’t get out of the house, or just taking time to pick up a phone and say, “I was thinking about you today.” Christians may busy themselves in tasks of service like the ones listed above, but endless performing, if there is no love involved, is meaningless (1 Corinthians 13:1–3). As we go about serving God and others, let us do so with a spirit of humbleness and brotherly love (Philippians 2:1–4).