Ask a pastor to name his greatest frustration as a church leader, and typically the answer will be people who complain but never step up to make a difference. One woman blogged that her father pastored a church in which a member approached her mother, saying that the pastor and his wife should put curtains in the nursery. The writer’s mother, knowing the complainer was a seamstress, said, “That sounds like a great idea. Why don’t you get on that right away?” The windows never got curtains.
As the body of Christ, we all have a role in the church. Tithing is necessary to keep the church functioning, but Scripture makes it clear we all have been created for different purposes beyond that. Look at what 1 Corinthians 12: 14-20 says about our giftedness: … the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. In verse 27, Paul summarizes what he has just written: Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. Last year when I pulled up to the front of the church I attend in Fort Scott, a middle-aged couple was re-landscaping the area around the entryway fountain. The day was hot, the work laborious, but when I thanked them for volunteering to take on such a task, they shared that it was their gift and they were glad to help. I was grateful for their generosity, knowing that it definitely is not my gift, since anything green, flowering and of the plant kingdom dies rapidly when I add my black thumb to help. Unfortunately, there are those who never volunteer. Too many times the comment “Don’t you think we ought to…?” really means, “Don’t you think YOU ought to…?” (You know, too many chiefs, not enough Indians.) There was a time I volunteered for everything…even gardening. “No” was not in my vocabulary because I was all about earning grace points, pleasing God, no matter how out-of-my-area-of-expertise the task was. Dave, my husband, constantly asked me to put on the volunteer brakes, but, for goodness sakes, there was a need, and SOMEBODY had to meet it. When I really began to understand the meaning of the verses in 1 Corinthians, I realized that I was denying someone else the opportunity to use his/her gift instead of focusing on where I should be utilizing my talents. For most people, that is not the issue. Churches are full of Sunday-only pew-sitters who never volunteer. Here in Florida where I will live for the next few months, the church I attend is determined to “plug in” all of its 14,000 members somewhere. Four classes are scheduled each month to introduce newcomers to the church dogma, to test people’ spiritual gifts, and to offer places where those gifts can be used. From parking lot attendants to equestrian experts to members of the sex-trafficking team to prayer warriors, the seemingly endless list recognizes the need for everyone to contribute. If you are curious as to where you have been spiritually gifted, there are dozens of tests on line. And here’s the cool part: where God has equipped you is probably something you love to do…which is why, not surprisingly, gardening was found nowhere on my list.