When I list “service” as a separate category … I am emphasizing physical service, not the service of teaching or the service of encouraging others. A teacher is also a washer of feet, a person who illustrates the meaning of Christianity by doing what Jesus would do. Jesus took care of physical needs such as food and health. In a physical way, he gave his body and his life for us. The early church gave physical help, sharing their possessions with needy people, collecting offerings for hungry people.
Service should be done both inside and outside the church: “As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:10). Folks who isolate themselves from other believers are falling short in this aspect of Christianity. The concept of spiritual gifts is important here. God has placed each of us in the body “for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:7). Each of us has abilities that can help others.
Which spiritual gifts do you have? You can take a questionnaire to find out, but much of the questionnaire is based on your experience. What have you done in the past that turned out well? What do other people say you are good at? How have you helped others in the past? The best test of spiritual gifts is serving within the Christian community. Try a variety of roles in the church, and ask others what you do best. Volunteer. Every member should have at least one role in the church. Small groups provide many opportunities for involvement, and many opportunities for feedback on what you do well and what you enjoy doing.
The Christian community also serves the world around us, not only in word, but also in deeds that go with those words. God did not just speak – he also took action. Actions can demonstrate the love of God working in our hearts, as we help the poor, as we offer comfort to the discouraged, as we help victims make sense of their lives. It is those who need practical help who are often the most responsive to the gospel message.
Physical service may be seen as supporting the gospel. It is a method of supporting evangelism. But service should be done with no strings attached, no attempt to get something in return. We serve simply because God has given us some resources and has opened our eyes to see a need. Jesus fed and healed many people without any direct request for them to become his disciples. He did it because it needed to be done, and he saw a need that he could fill.
Excerpt from the article, Six Functions of the Church, by Joseph Tkach, past president of GCI.