Truth is Truth

"You, O LORD, will not withhold Your compassion from me; Your lovingkindness and Your truth will continually preserve me." - Psalm 40:11 This is a sometimes monthly column concerning the truth of Christ Jesus and the issues that face our world as published in various newspapers and journals by Pastor Dave Seaford. You can return to the home page of the church by going to:

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Location: Redway, California, United States

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Spiritual Gifts and Grand Blessings

For the next eight weeks I will be teaching a series of classes on Spiritual Gifts at 9:30 each Sunday morning in the sanctuary of Faith Bible Church. Anyone is welcome to attend.

For two thousand years Christians have been aware of the Holy Spirit giving one or more spiritual gifts to every Christian at salvation (Eph. 4, Rom. 12, 1 Cor. 12). About a decade ago it became somewhat of a fad in the Church to give spiritual gift surveys in order for a believer to discover their spiritual gift. The problem was that (as with many church programs) that this is where it ended.

In my mind it seemed that many of these survey programs had the potential to create pride in the life of some Christians, while it left others frustrated for knowing their gift and never seeming to have a place to apply it. It would appear that we have become very good in the church at teaching the “what” without every showing the way to the “how.” I don’t know if this is a matter of pastoral fear, congregational rigor mortis, or just plain apathy, but in many cases programs have become an end in themselves.

The truth is that the appropriate application of spiritual gifts in the context of the body of Christ is healing, fulfilling and unifying. But today it is a very rare church indeed that both teaches them and then assimilates believers into those gift areas by actually helping each individual into ministries where those gifts are used effectively and grown joyfully. So why do we fail so miserably?

For one thing it is easier to do programs than to do ministry. We have become so enamored doing things well ourselves that we have forgotten the great commission. Church growth clinics have replaced spiritual growth discipleship. Finally the office holders and power brokers in our churches have clung so tightly to what they have so generously given to, that they have failed to recognize the real reason others are on the sideline. In this turmoil of tradition we find a paradox. Those clinging typically are also complaining that they have to do all the work. Those that are doing nothing on the other hand are fasting from their gifting because there seems to be no place or help for them in finding their Godly service. It seems we have drug the 80/20 rule into the churches, written it into our policies, and then stamped it onto our communion tables right under “this do in remembrance of me.”

I confess, that as a pastor I have had a problem at times letting go of the things that I thought I could do better than others. But in so doing, I have been denying those that God has gifted and called, and will grow joyfully and mightily into those roles I have despised. The truth is that the things that drain me, due to my lack of calling and gifting, will invigorate the one God has called and gifted for that purpose. Church unity grows out of each part doing their God given part (Eph 4), and then jointly watching the ministry of the unified bride of Christ.

Recently I took a little time off. I read, rested and prayed a lot. The things I just shared with you became convictions in my life. When I came back, I challenged the people in our church to only do what God called and gifted them to do, and resign from everything else. Within 24 hours I had almost no teachers, church officers, multimedia operators, or praise team singers. While all those positions were held by just three or four people, NOW there are some 18 people (some very new Christians) that God has called into those positions. They are so excited and I for one am so relieved.

One fellow pastor called my move “courageous” another called it “foolish.” What ever it was, I think it was of God and that sometimes God uses the foolish to astound the wise.