Are you thinking about how to approach life and discipleship in the New Year? Our resolutions can’t all be about weight loss, can they?! If you are giving thought about how to integrate your faith into all of life, maybe this short talk I gave during a Flourish San Diego learning community session this last year could help spur on your thinking and pursuing:
We set out to build a church, and we come across the promise of gifting for the benefit of the church and the kingdom…
“For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function,  so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.  Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them:..” Romans 12:4–6(ESV)
“There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism,  one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.  But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” Ephesians 4:4–7 (ESV)
Then over time, we adapt this list to the programmatic needs of the church. We focus on hospitality, who will welcome and serve those that attend our church? Musical gifting, who can we train to lead musical worship in the church? Teaching Children, who will tackle the ever-present need to serve in ministry to kiddos? On and on it goes. Practical needs surrounding the weekly gathering of the church take precedent.
We tend then to not recognize gifting but need and pigeonhole people into meeting them. We might see vocational expertise but we see them through a lens of what they can do for the church. So we tap the graphic designers or electricians to do the work of the church and trust that the successful entrepreneurs will give lots of money to the church.
What then develops over time is perhaps a big machine. The only thing that matters is the machine and our sense of mission, place, and vocation are sacrificed on the altar of church success. But this is not the church we find being built in the New Testament…
There is another way, yes gifts are given by the Spirit for the health and flourishing of the body, but that is not exclusive to within the walls of the church, because the church flourishes when all of its parts, all of its members recognize and use the passions, talents, opportunities for kingdom good.
This is discovering and stewarding our vocational power.
This is seeing people as individuals with various gifts, called to be a redemptive, renewing force in our world, that others may experience the renewal that is found in Christ.
This is the equipping for ministry the church is called to, laboring to expose and give examples of how vocation is sacred and our place has a purpose. Shall we be about this work? Let’s.