Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant...There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all...For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ... For in fact the body is not one member but many... And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. (1 Cor. 12:1, 5-6, 12, 14, 21-22 NKJV)
I know, I know, I just condensed a whole chapter into a few sentences. And even worse, I skipped over the list of gifts and the whole debate on whether tongues are for today or not. Already many of you are preparing to defend your position on tongues. So I know that I will risk making everyone mad by saying that whether you speak in tongues or not really isn’t that big of a deal compared to the larger issue: Scripture clearly says that God has gifted all of his people with a variety of gifts and ministries and that we all need each other to function in the gifts that God has given to each one of us.
We can’t say to those who don’t have a ministerial license, “I have no need of you.” Nor can we say, “You are not good at preaching or leading worship so all you are good for is cleaning up the sanctuary or working in the kitchen.” On the contrary, a careful reading of 1 Corinthians Chapter 12, Romans Chapter 12, and Ephesians Chapter 4 (among others) makes it abundantly clear that God uses all of His people to encourage one another, exhort one another, teach one another, admonish one another, pray for one another, and a host of other things.
So when the people of God come together to worship and pray and read God’s Word, shouldn’t there be room for everyone to exercise the gift that God has given them? Doesn’t the Body become paralyzed and dysfunctional when only one or two or at the most a handful of people are allowed to share what God is doing in their hearts and lives?
Many gifts that God would have given the congregation are held back for the simple reason that those people leading the meeting have said, “I have no need of you.”
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not calling for chaotic disorganized meetings where everyone speaks at the same time or people compete for everyone’s attention. The New Testament, especially the chapters referenced above, are quite clear about the kinds of leaders a church should have.
But the Scriptures are also quite clear that those leaders (notice the plural, leaders, not leader nor senior pastor nor priest but a group of elders) are to see to it that the meetings are both orderly and yet Spirit-led enough that everyone has a chance to speak and share the gift that God has given them to share with the Body.
In fact, in 1 Cor. 14:26, the Apostle Paul writes that when we come together each person has a song, an encouraging word, a revelation, etc., and that all these things must be done so that the church can be strengthened and built up. However, in many church services and meetings today, the time is so tightly controlled and the agendas so strictly set that only a few people are allowed to participate while everyone else sits back and watches. Many gifts that God would have given the congregation are held back for the simple reason that those people leading the meeting have said, “I have no need of you.” And the church becomes weak as a result of people not exercising their God-given gifts.
Maybe you already know your spiritual gifts and you’re able to regularly use them to serve in your local church. Maybe you’re just beginning to discover your gifts. Maybe you know your gifts but haven’t been using them due to fear, frustration, or rejection. Wherever you are in the process, think about how your church can become stronger through becoming more Biblical. According to the New Testament, the strength of the church is in Spirit-led meetings where all the members of the Body participate under the leadership and direction of godly elders.
Let’s Pray Together: Lord, I confess that the way we do church is very different from what is described in the New Testament. Forgive us for ignoring the New Testament patterns and instructions as to how we do church. We have followed the wisdom of man and church traditions rather than looking to You and the New Testament for guidance on how to lead people and structure our churches and church meetings. Help me Lord, to know what to do about this….(continue praying as you feel led…)
Related Resources: Art for God's Sake,a book by Philip Graham Ryken What Is Simple Church -- Excellent video that explains simple church and the importance of relational ministry and making room for every person's gift. Must the Pastor Be a Superstar? -- Great article! The title says it all -- we need everyone exercising their God-given gift, not just a few superstars!