Tuesday, May 4, 2010
I have gifts and I want to use them...
In a conversation at the Model Conference on Theology that dealt with matters of worship, a Pastor told me that he had people in his congregation who were gifted musicians and that they developed contemporary worship because they had people gifted in this area and they did not have anyone gifted as an organist. He was quite adamant that these gifts drove the direction of his worship leadership. They had gifted people and it was his belief that the congregation owed them a place to use their gifts in leading worship.
In a conversation about parish leaders, the same point was made. We have women gifted in the area of leadership and deeply spiritual and therefore it is our duty to utilize those gifts. His point was made with reference to women serving as Eucharistic ministers (during the distribution of Holy Communion), congregational Presidents, lectors, and elders.
When did the gifts drive the discussion? If a person is a good reader, does that mean the Church is obligated to find a place for that person to read (usually in worship)? If a person is a good tenor saxophonist, does that mean does that mean the Church is obligated to find a place for that person to play (usually in worship)? Has the Church become one huge spiritual gifts director whose job it is to give people a chance to use their gifts front and center (usually in worship)? Have gifts become the spiritual dollars burning a hole in our pockets so that we must find a way to spend them (usually in worship)?
I am not trying to be sarcastic here but am asking an honest question of the Church and those who lead her? Is ministry or leadership a gift that must be utilized or a privilege within the Church? Is the fact that someone CAN do something a requirement that they MUST do it within the Church? Is ministry or leadership a function or ability that we must recognize and utilize or is it a privilege bestowed?
There are many who have gifts but who do not have calls or places to exercise those gifts. Is this a failure of the Church to find a place for these gifts to be utilized? There are some who do not possess these gifts but who have been called, ordained, and installed. Is this a failure of the Church in choosing whom the Church will give the authority to act in Christ's name?
I am not trying to paint anyone into a corner but to ask when this shift was made and whether it was a faithful and good shift. If we keep to this course, we might well develop and office of gifts director to function in this way in the congregation or change the role and function of the seminaries and bishops from equipping and setting apart to the role of discerning, identifying, and making a place for those so gifted to utilize their gifts.
Though this does not seem to have been changed from the vantage point of doctrine, it is true that the way we talk about this -- both in the larger church and in the congregation -- have definitely changed. I just though it might be worth talking about...