I was listening to the podcast of a nationally known pastor as he shared the need for volunteers in his church. Here’s what he listed, and for anyone who has either worked for or attended a large church, most of these ministries will be familiar.

Nursery           Sunday School            Bookstore                    Small group leaders

Ushers             ESL teachers               Media ministries          Greeting ministries

Mentors           Parking lot helpers      Life coaches for kids    Sunday night K-8

Library            Information booth       Disability ministries    Kiosk

Evangelism      Family ministries        Welcoming ministries

Worship and music ministries             Wednesday night Sunday School

After the pastor shared the list, he encouraged people to serve and said, “Everyone has a gift,” making reference, I assume, to this Scripture passage: “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:4–7).

The pastor was correct. The Bible does tell us that each one of us has a gift. Unfortunately, the “gifts” that are required in the list of needs he read fall almost exclusively into the area of service. A few of the positions require teachers and leaders. However, read the verses that follow 1 Corinthians 12:7 and see if you can determine which of the gifts that Paul lists sync up with the gifts that the pastor expressed a need for.

“For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:8–12).

Here are the other gift and ministry lists:

“And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? (1 Co 12:28–30).

“Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness” (Romans 12:6-8).

“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God…” (Eph 4:11–13).

“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” (1 Peter 4:10–11).

Here is a list of all these gifts and ministries. Some are given more than once in the scriptures above, so I have noted this in parentheses that follow each ministry.

Apostles (2)     Prophets (3)     Pastor/teachers (3)       Speaking Service/helping (3)

Miracles           Healing            Giving                         Administration

Tongues           Exhortation     Leadership                  Mercy              Evangelist

In our churches, the gift that is required the most by far is the gift of service or helping. Greeters. Ushers. Nursery attendants. Sunday School assistants. Information kiosks. Bookstore. Coffee bar—although this position wasn’t in this pastor’s list. Fewer teachers and leaders (mostly for small groups and Sunday School) are needed. The ministries of pastor/leader/speaker and other pastors are usually paid positions and as well as the ministry of administration, perhaps. I count three to four ministries that are predominant in our churches, depending on how we count pastor/teacher/leader/speaker. What about the other nine, two of which are listed more than once? We just simply ignore them.

May I ask a few honest questions? When we say everybody has a gift, are we really interested in seeing the gifts of people develop so that the body of Christ may be edified, or are we seeking volunteers so that the organizational wheels can be kept rolling? Are we really interested in the gifted maturity and strengthening of believers or are we just trying to fill slots in the ecclesiastical machinery?