I was thinking about ‘spiritual gifts’ this morning. Rolling around the idea that maybe our various church cultures (at least in the evangelical stream) do a great job of promoting the gifts of preaching and teaching… and the personalities that go along with them.

The trend I have seen is that ‘going into (the) ministry’ is equated with climbing the ‘preacher ladder’: start with a pulpit, start writing a book, get published, start speaking at conferences, write another one or two books, speak some more places, leave the pulpit and become a professional speaker.

(OK, maybe that is a bit of a caricature, but still…)

I wonder about the dynamic relationship between our thoughts on ‘ministry=talking’ and the expectation for good Christians to be able to teach.

In my reader this morning, I found Ed Stetzer’s post about Spiritual Gifts and the Church. He’s got some numbers up from the Barna group that suggests a real emphasis on teaching as the primary gift being developed in Churches.

Two thoughts I keep coming back to:

  • ‘Gifts of the Spirit’ can also be correctly translated as “Grace of the Spirit’. Should the way we see the grace of the Spirit of God manifested primary be through teaching/preaching? (And I ask thins as someone who is very comfortable with (maybe even spiritually gifted at) teaching and preaching.)
  • The emphasis on teaching a preaching seems to lead directly to the assumption that people need academic schooling as the primary form of training. But, are spiritual gifts suppose to be taught? Is that even possible? (Please understand, I believe training is necessary and Biblically mandated. But I don’t think training=schooling)

What would happen if Churches stopped hiring ‘professional pastors’? Would the percentage of those with ‘teaching gifts’ begin to decline as the other gifts started to rise? Would we fall into total disrepair, chaos and be nonfunctional as congregations? Would those truly gifted to teach be called upon by the congregation to teach them, and to also go and proclaim to word to those who haven’t heard? Would we begin to see God’s grace (his Gift) manifest it’s self in hospitality, serving, evangelism, healing, art, etc…?
Two questions to wrap up: What is the purpose of teaching/preaching (and are they the same)? Why does there seem to be a ‘spirit of fear’ at the thought of having gifts that don’t demand the limelight?