I went to my parents’ church yesterday. It was interesting…yeah, interesting is a good word for it. As in many churches these days, there was someone from the ‘welcoming committee’ at the door to shake my hand as I walked in. By the time my hand was in her’s, her eyes had already strayed from mine to the person walking in behind me. I’m sure this goes without saying, but I felt really welcome.
We were being preached at about spiritual gifts. The ultimate question we were left with was, “What kind of church could we be if we would ever get it right in the area of spiritual gifts and combine it with love and all work together for the church?” Ultimately a very valid thought…if it weren’t for the fact that every time the word ‘church’ was used it was referring to the 200 people in the room, and not the rest of Christ’s body around the world as well. The sermon notes said: “Whatever your gift is, use it for the strengthening of the church (local body).” Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the church the entire body of believers? We are, as Paul calls us numerous times, the church of God(for example: 1 Cor 10:32, 1Cor15:9, Gal1:13). We should not be associating ourselves with one particular “church” or denomination. Rather, we should be associating ourselves with Christ. We have only one Master, one Teacher, and that is Christ (Matthew 23:8-12)
When the sermon was over there was a short skit about discerning your spiritual giftings and how you can put them to service. Included in the suggested possible ministry opportunities were: singing in the choir, playing in the praise band, ushering, being on the drama team, and yes, even setting tables for a potluck dinner. Perhaps you can help me. You see, I’m having trouble seeing how participating in any of these activities can actually be classified as ministry. I fail to see how the church is showing the world Christ’s radical upside-down love when we minister by being on the church’s decorating committee or by baking cookies for VBS. In this, how is the church reaching out to the lost? Clothing the naked? Feeding the hungry? Looking after the sick?(Matt25:31-46)
While it’s incredibly important to build community and build relationships with fellow believers, I don’t think those things can really be classified as ministry. These are integral parts of strengthening the church, but ministry requires something different from us.