Sunday, November 15, 2009

Spiritual Gifts Fair?

It has been several months since I last posted to this blog. I have had some writer's block. I have needed some time to rethink some positions. I have also really wanted to examine my own reasons for writing. I have decided to not only ask my own questions, but entertain some from others. I have also decided to blog about the oddities of faith.

Today, the community of faith which I belong to hosted a "spiritual gifts fair." My friend, Matt, who is staying with Janet and me for a couple of days and I got goofy as we discussed what this might be. Perhaps we thought that one would get the gift of prophecy if you guessed the amount of candy in the jar. Maybe you would get the gift of healing if you won the "whack a mole" contest. Possibly, you would get the gift of tongues if you putted a golf ball into the clowns mouth. An immature mind is a terrible thing to waste.

Seriously, this event was held for people who have identified and are developing their spiritual gifts. It was an opportunity for those in the community and those just entering into it to see opportunities for service and put their gifts to use in the various ministries in the community. It is quite a unique idea.

This community has had its ups and downs. It has begun to grow quickly over the last few months. The community has done the right thing. It has reached out to the poor and sacrificed in order to make them part of the community. As a result, people from all walks of life have turned up and wanted to become part of this family of faith. Some of the leadership is very comfortable with their spots in the community. The newer members are not being squeezed out, they are just trying to figure out where it is they fit in all of this.

It was years ago when people showed up to our movement (which I believe is the church of and for the poor) and they were given a "job" as soon as they joined. That strategy implemented by William Booth, was sheer brilliance. It was also a spiritually sound principle at work. All people have gifts to add to the family of faith, uniquely given to them by the Holy Spirit.

Sadly, over the years, it has appeared to me that many long timers in our movement, think that prior to getting a job, that you need to "know" what our army is all about. We have also seemingly become more officer-centric, as our operations have become more complex. Pastoral authority and responsibility is often not shared and as a result, we have a ton of gifted people who find another place to use their gifts.

You know my thoughts on sharing authority and allowing people to carry out their responsibilities with little interference unless there is something completely unscriptural going on with them. Allowing people to be free is something that will cause the community of faith to grow.

I continue to wonder how we can flatten authority structures and allow for input on all levels. I admit, it can be challenging and sometimes intimidating, even for people like me who are proponents of this way of working. It may just be a matter of us trusting that the Spirit has the right idea and that we need to know how to work in concert with what He is already doing in the world.

So my questions are simple. Do you think we will ever really let people put their gifts to use? Is there a need for us to "pay our dues" in order to have a certain position? Why is it that it is intimidating for some leaders to let people do their thing?

So after months of being off this medium, I want to know, what do you think?


Blogger Eleanor Burne-Jones said...

What you are asking is 'What comes after Christendom-shaped church?' In other words professionalised clergy and sheep-like laity.

I suspect the answer is 'pre-Christendom shaped church'.

12:11 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Thanks for sharing the information on Spiritual gifts fair. I completely agree with you that it's a matter of us trusting that the Spirit has the right idea and that we need to know how to work in concert with what He is already doing in the world.

12:37 AM  

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