Wednesday, September 03, 2008

spiritual gifts 2

Does it bother me that, though more than twenty-five people a day read this blog, only one person responded to my post on spiritual gifts? Yes. It does. It concerns me a great deal and confirms my biggest fears but also what I know about a large portion of the church. People don’t even know that they’re UNAWARE of their spiritual gifts!
I’ve been preaching this sermon a lot over the past year or so. In fact, in one case, I preached the identical sermon twice, within the same church, within the course of the same year! It’s something that I’ve never done before. In fact, though I’ve been touching on this same theme a lot over the past year or so, I’ve never even preached the same sermon in two separate churches before. But in this case I really felt led to do it. It’s a church full of people who should be great leaders, but hardly any of them are actually involved in the ministry of the church. After the first time I preached it, the pastor came up to me and asked me why I didn’t stick to the subject he had given me to preach on (for the record, I thought I had). After the second time, he came up to me and suggested that it was exactly what the congregation needed to hear, with no mention of the fact that I had already preached the same exact sermon there less than a year before.

What is it about spiritual gifts that have us all jumpy and/or apathetic? I’ve heard many stories about modern non-charismatic churches who once enthusiastically embraced spiritual gifts, even the “crazy ones”. I’ve heard these stories about the Salvation Army AND the Baptist church, for the record. So what happened? When did these gifts cease to be recognized in our churches and for what reason?

This is one of those topics where people nod along and think to themselves, “yes, that is exactly right”, all while they sit there not having any idea what their gifts are and, it goes without saying, not putting any of their gifts into practice.

I think a lot of people think of “talents” when the word “gifts” comes up. Some people sit there thinking, “I sing. Therefore I use my spiritual gift.” But singing isn’t actually listed among the spiritual gifts. So WHAT DO YOU DO??? WHAT ARE YOUR GIFTS??? AND HOW DO YOU USE THEM IN YOUR LOCAL CHURCH???

I ask the question again; does it bother you that so many of our churches seem completely void of so many of the gifts? Does it bother you that many of us NEVER see the gift of tongues, or interpretation, or prophecy in our churches? Do you believe that these gifts have gone away? (and if you do, can you in any way back that up with scripture?) And if you don’t believe they’ve gone away, then what is your explanation for their absence in your congregation?

Believe me, I’m including myself in that question. Tongues, for example, isn’t a gift that’s been looked upon too kindly in most of the congregations that I’ve been a part of. Admittedly, I tend to stick to “non-charismatic congregations” when it comes to leadership. And I don’t profess to have the gift of tongues myself. But it does bother me that I’ve served in so many churches where spiritual gifts are barely touched upon. Shouldn’t spiritual gifts pretty much be a monthly topic? Whether it be through the sermon, Sunday school, or some other Bible study? Don’t spiritual gifts pretty much sit near top the priority list of topics??? Somewhere just below “salvation”? Yet when is the last time you heard it spoke on? And when is the last time that speaker touched on specific gifts and included tongues and prophecy?

I’m beginning to sound charismatic. Let me be clear. Like Paul, I believe that tongues is the least of the gifts. But I do believe it exists! Yet I rarely ever see it used and hardly ever in the congregations where I serve? Why is that? How can that be???

Comments on "spiritual gifts 2"


Blogger shaunespencer said ... (8:45 PM) : 

Calm down big guy...My guess is that (if people are anything like me) a lack of response has more to do with thinking that it deserves more discussion than a quick blog response. There are relatively significant theological issues attached to the question so I'd hate to give a bullet-point response to a question that actually deserves some thoughtfulness (nor do I want to be the spark for a fruitless rabbit trail...). I suppose though that you are right that some folks don't think much about it.

To answer the poll portion of your question (while you take a deep breath), mine tend to fall in the arena of prophecy, utterances of knowledge and discernment of spirits (given a particular definition of each of those terms to be sure). The church I serve has just finished a class on Spiritual gifts in which we try to help people understand the gifts, discern what theirs are and then find ways to participate in them. My plan is to have that class occur regularly so that as new people make their way into our fellowship they'll have the oopportunity to grow in that area.


Blogger shaunespencer said ... (8:47 PM) : 

By the way, this is the most blog responses I have ever made in one day (without forgetting my password). Maybe my new spiritual gift is "working of miracles" (1 Cor 12:10)


Blogger jsi said ... (4:35 AM) : 

Sorry Tim, I haven't been by in what feels like weeks...and didn't respond because, well, i didn't read your blog. (And candidly speaking, I never get any comments on my site. I think I have had 2 in a month. Comment participation doesn't take away from a well-written post...don't be dismayed.)

Spiritual gifts are exceptionally important within the maturation of a Christian spiritual walk. Some very important gifts include faith, forgiveness, service - striking responses to this word, the people around us and the circumstances which are interwoven into our lives.

It seems slightly discouraging to preach the same sermon twice and not have registered a recognition, "Hey, wait a minute..."

Have a great night.


Blogger Cari said ... (8:10 AM) : 

I took a class about spiritual gifts and was shocked. My top ones were prophecy and teaching, and I got a big fat zero on giving. I am a selfish big mouth, that's what I am. I'm not bossy. I just know what you're supposed to be doin'.

And what's the deal, are you in hyper-post? Months go by, we get nothing, and now you got something to say? I have to catch up with you, brother.

Yes, we need to be learning about our spiritual gifts and honoring God in them. It isn't easy, though. There's this awakening, this sudden knowledge that your reasonable service is OH so much more than belting out a Sunday morning special, and a fear that comes along with it, like when you become a parent and realize that you are so not ready to take care of a human and wish you could go back and get a trainer puppy.

People who used their gifts in the Bible were very lonely people. Blessed, yes, but very lonely. Do we maybe fear being that person? I mean, I have never felt I could measure up to Esther, the queen all the girls are supposed to want to be-in fact, I most relate to Peter: making grand but empty promises, cutting off ears, falling in the water. OH, to be a David or a Daniel or Esther!

I think we're just showing up most of the time. Shaun's right. Most people probably don't think much about it.


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