Although spiritual gifts are one of God’s ways to build a healthy Church, many Christians aren’t operating in them.
- They don’t know what a spiritual gift is.
- They don’t know what a spiritual gift is not.
- They don’t know what their spiritual gift is.
And consequently, the Church isn’t benefiting from their gift nor is the individual experiencing joy from operating in their gift. The Body is dismembered.
But the Bible exhorts us to pursue spiritual gifts because we form one body. My preferred definition of a spiritual gift is:
“A spiritual gift is a special attribute given by the Holy Spirit to every member of the Body of Christ, according to God’s grace, for use within the context of the Body.” (C. Peter Wagner)
Here are five reasons we don’t pursue them:
Gifts Not Part of Local Church Culture
If your local church has not incorporated spiritual gifts into its culture, the majority of members won’t embrace spiritual gifts. There may be a few “fringe” people who do, but the majority won’t. However, New Testament Church life involved the active use of spiritual gifts. For example, the Apostle Paul devoted three chapters to explain how gifts operated in the Church (1 Corinthians 12-14). I suggest a gifts-based church culture has vision, discovery, and operation of spiritual gifts.
Has our modern church changed so much that we ignore the example of the early Church?
Paid Church Staff Does All The Ministry
The belief that the paid church staff should do all the ministry paralyzes the use of spiritual gifts. If paid church staff members are the only ministers, then why should the “lay people” learn their gifts and operate in them? They should sit back and let the ministers do what they get paid to do, right? Wrong! This belief simply isn’t biblical—“to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:7). This verse doesn’t say “to each paid church staff member;” it says to each one—every Christian.
Is the responsibility to minister for every Christian in your church or to just the paid church staff?
1 Corinthians 14:26 says, “When you come together, everyone has a hymn or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.” When the believers gathered, every one expected to bring something to bless others. Everyone was a minister who used their gifts to strengthen the church. They didn’t expect to sit back and be served. They didn’t expect to be entertained--the sermon better tickle me, the songs better be my taste, the building better be comfortable. In short, the early believers didn’t have a consumer mentality, they had a servant mentality.
Do you operate as a consumer or as a servant in the Body?
Bad Experiences or Stereotypes
If you’ve had a bad experience with spiritual gifts, it may deter you from embracing them. Or maybe you view them as “a charismatic thing.” Those television preachers seem so fake and showy, why would you want to be anything like them? I understand—I’ve been there. But do we stop listening to all sermons if we hear one bad teaching? Of course not. Do we abandon Christ if we encounter one messed up Christian? No. We press into the things—maybe a little wiser—that God says to press into.
Are bad experiences or stereotypes keeping you from pursuing spiritual gifts?
Since spiritual gifts are vital to the health of the Church, it’s reasonable to assume that Satan will interfere with them. Satan, after all, wants to steal, kill, and destroy from the Kingdom of God. Believers who encourage one another through the gifts God has given them are to Satan like nails clawing the chalkboard—he can’t stand them. A stronger Church means a weaker kingdom of darkness. A believer full of joy because she has discovered her gifts and is using them, is harder to pull away than a believer who doubts her place and worth.
Has Satan tried to interfere with your spiritual gifts?
If you're not pursuing spiritual gifts, you're handicapping yourself and the Body of Christ. For God's sake, figure out what's holding you back so you can begin moving forward. The Church needs you.