where are all the spiritual gifts in your church?
There doesn’t seem to be much balance where spiritual gifts are concerned. Either a church doesn’t practice them at all (outside of preaching, teaching, evangelism, and pastoring) or, in my opinion, they manufacture them and throw in a couple of extra gifts to boot.
But let me pick on the churches that I'm most closely associated.
If you’re in a church which does not see outward manifestations of spiritual gifts much, does that alarm you? Does it alarm you that nobody in your congregation speaks in tongues? Does it alarm you that nobody in your congregation has ever spoken a word of prophecy? It should. The New Testament tells us that those gifts exist and that they’re to be used to make the church effective. So how is it that so many churches continue to exist without so many of the spiritual gifts? Again, it isn’t as if those gifts don’t exist. In fact, it isn’t even likely that those gifts don’t exist within your congregation! It’s just that they’re not being used. In fact, the people in your congregation who have those gifts may not even know it! And that should bother you.
To be clear, I am not a “charismatic”. At least not in the traditional sense. I have never spoken in tongues, nor have I ever translated a message that was delivered in tongues. But I do believe in the gifts of the Spirit and I find it alarming that so many churches seem to be completely void of so many of the gifts. How can that be and why aren’t more of us questioning that fact? No wonder so many of our churches are ineffective. Without the gifts to make us effective, what did we think would happen?
These questions have been on my mind a lot over the past couple of years. In fact, it all started when I moved to London and began following the resurgence of the Anglican Church (The Church of England). Mind you, the Anglican Church is a traditional and liturgical church. They like robes, collars, incense, and weekly communion. In fact, I’ve always described the Anglican church as existing somewhere between Protestants and Catholics (kind of like a group of people who loved the traditions of the Catholic Church, but not the doctrine). With that in mind, you’d think that the Anglican Church would be fading fast. But not so fast! Over the last ten to fifteen years, the Church of England (in particular) has been experiencing a huge resurgence in membership and attendance. In fact, it’s become a young people’s movement. But what I found most remarkable as I began to pay more attention to the movement was that it is almost exclusively charismatic in nature! Imagine that! A former high brow, very traditional and “orderly” denomination is becoming increasingly charismatic. And to be clear, it’s largely only the charismatic congregations of the Church of England which are experiencing this revival!
What does that say? Again, I would not consider myself a charismatic nor would most people who know me, but as somebody who is deeply passionate about the local church and its mission to the lost, how can I ignore this movement that is not only sweeping across England, but also the world. In fact, many church statistics suggest that the only denominations still growing across the world are charismatic in nature. The rest of the church growth is happening through non-denominational churches (especially in the West).
Those of us who stand strong in our effort to not be charismatic must take note of this. Ignorance is not a good excuse. What gifts are present in your church but are not being used? Do you regularly see manifestations of the Holy Spirit through the spiritual gifts of your congregation. If not, why not?
In my right hand column are links to a couple of files on spiritual gifts. One is an assessment quiz which allows you to identify what your gifts are. The other is a sheet that helps explain the gifts and also gives you some scriptural warnings concerning each of those gifts. Those who have taken the time to fill out this assessment all come back with the same response; it is very affirming and encouraging.
One little disclaimer, however. As gifts like tongues and healing tend to be pretty obvious, they are not included in the assessment. The people who wrote up the quiz figured that anybody who had those gifts wouldn’t need a quiz to tell them so. The problem is that, with congregations of hundreds and even thousands who are not open to these gifts, it is possible that you may have one of them and simply not know it. And I must confess that, as one who has neither of these gifts, I have no good advice on how to figure out if the gifts lay dormant in you.
Still, at the very least, I pray that study and assessments like these will begin to open our minds to the gifts that God has provided for the church. Gifts meant to make us incredibly effective in our mission and gifts that, if left unused, will leave us incredibly ineffective!
Btw, the picture above is of the best church marquee I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s in the Stepney area of London and this is the front door of a church located in a community that has a very high population of Muslims.