There is a discrepancy between the gifts that are needed by our organizational structure and the biblical gifts that God provides. In our churches, the gift that is needed the most by far numerically is the gift of service or helping. Greeters. Ushers. Nursery attendants. Sunday School assistants. Information kiosk and bookstore workers. Coffee bar servers (although this position wasn’t in this particular pastor’s list). Fewer teachers and leaders (mostly for small groups and Sunday School) are needed. The ministries of pastor/teacher/leader/speaker/evangelist as well as perhaps apostle, exhortation and administration, are usually resident in a very few paid positions. If God has given a person who is not on staff one of these pastoral/teaching gifts, he’ll probably be sitting on the sidelines, unused, unless he teaches in Sunday School, a small group or perhaps an adult class. What’s left for the “common folk” are giving, faith, mercy and service. There are very few opportunities—perhaps none—for the use of almost half of these biblical gifts in our church services. The gift of prophecy, mentioned four times, is absent altogether, as are discernment, word of wisdom, word of knowledge, tongues, miracles and healing—these last three being each mentioned twice.

Welcome to the weak and deficient Western Church.

May I ask a few honest questions? When we say everybody has a gift, are we really interested in seeing the gifts God has given 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?

Do we actually believe that these gifts, which we prohibit, are from our sovereign Lord and Redeemer Himself? If we do, why don’t we allow for the exercise of them in the context of our church gatherings, where many of them are designed by the Lord to be used?