This is written by Steve Sjogren -Senior Leader at Coastland Tampa. This and other articles can be found at www.juststartchurch.com.
All of us have gifts, whether we know Christ or not.
I have found that one of the most powerful ways to lead people toward Christ is to give them a chance to use their gifts in serving others. In using their gifts they will experience, to borrow a famous idea from the film Chariots of Fire, “the pleasure of God.”
We would generally agree that leading people away from strange views and perspectives to a scriptural view of Jesus is extremely difficult. Once people have given themselves to a “cultic” view of Jesus, it is difficult to find their way back to a clear-cut biblical view of him.
Yet I have seen a number of Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, both of those groups believe in the Arian view of Christ that he was only man and not God, come to a saving relationship with Christ through using their gifts to serve others.
Early on in my stint as a leader there was no way that I would have allowed a non-believer any shot at serving along side of other believers. But then along came a handful of Mormons who initially said they were interested in caring for those in need. Could they help in giving groceries and clothes away? After thinking it through we said they could, but they had to be paired up with older, mature believers who were grounded in the faith.
Take a guess at what happened. Within a month, as these theologically-confused people experienced the presence of God flowing through them, the very touch of the Holy Spirit for the first time in their lives, they asked dozens of questions of us, clarifying questions about who Jesus was, his power, who he really was. It was only a matter of a few weeks until they all came to Christ. That’s how powerful this sense of God’s pleasure is! Hebrews 11:6 makes it clear that faith please God. Essentially, we are allowing people to "play" at even the most basic levels of their faith. Stepping out and making that "dormant" faith kinetic causes them to sense the pleasure of God - perhaps for the very first time. People begin to grow from faith to faith. We get hooked on making Jesus smile and we just don’t want to quit!
The moral of the story is: Encourage your people to step out into the realm of risk with their unique gifts. God will use them. They will no doubt feel and see the results of God’s kingdom in the wake of stepping out of their zone of safety. Their great desire is to change lives around them. The good news is this is God’s goal as well.