We believe the following verses. We like them. They sound inclusive, and we want to be lovingly inclusive—at least theoretically.
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.
Are there any more scriptures that we fail to obey?
Unfortunately, yes—the verses that were referenced at the opening of this chapter.
“To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 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” (1 Corinthians 12:7-11).