Perhaps the Greatest Tragedy of the SBC
I have no idea how long this post will be, but I sure do need to write it. It was sparked by a conversation on Facebook. In no particular order:
- The church is a BODY. It's made up of lots of different parts, each one of which has a duty. Perhaps a unique duty within the body.
- All the parts are equally important. Some are more high-profile than other, but all are equally important.
- Example of previous point: if there's not the right kind of gifted person watching children in the nursery, mom & dad are not going to be upstairs in Worship Service, or over there in Sunday School. Asking which is more important is like asking the pilot of an airliner which wing is more important.
- Every person in the Body of Christ is gifted by God, for the task God has in mind for that person.
- Those gifts are for the good of the body, not for the good of the individual.
- In the churches with which I am familiar, only a small percentage of the members are even in the church on any given Sunday.
- Of the members who do attend, only a small percentage of them are involved in the actual work of the church.
- 100% of the members on the rolls are gifted for the common good of the body, yet pitifully few of them are doing what they are gifted to do within the body.
Universality of giftedness: Speaking of gifts in 1 Corinthians Chapter 12, verse 7, God says: "now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good". This follows on the heels of an explanation that there are different kinds of gifts and different kinds of service and workings, but there is one God who works in them all. Can you imagine what the majority of church members are missing, by not using their giftedness for the common good?
In my experience, not many members can respond logically and knowledgeably to the question "In what ways has God gifted you Spiritually, for the work of service?" And how can a local church know what task God has in mind for that Body, if it doesn't know the giftedness of the people God has placed in their midst, to carry on that Kingdom work?
I think it significant that the first mention of spiritual giftedness is found in Exodus, in the story of Bezalel. One could probably figure out that their task was something like building the Tabernacle, just by the fact that God had place a guy in their midst who was skilled ... gifted ... in working with gold, silver, bronze, gems and wood.
If every single task needed within the local body were not equally important, how could the same recognition be given to offering a cup of cold water as is given to more grandiose things to which we aspire?
Percentage of involvement: In the latest membership and attendance numbers published by The Alabama Baptist, attendance in the 6 largest population centers in Alabama was 33.28% among SBC churches, compared to 53.97% among the other reporting denominations. When we consider that attendance includes visitors and children too young to be members, those percentages surely err on the high side. And they're pitiful.
Our church looks something like 3,000 members, 750 attending, and perhaps 100-150 actually involved in the work of the church, most particularly on Sunday morning.
You get the idea. Most of what can be observed by driving past and looking is an imitation of the real thing ... people assembled in unity, using their giftedness to build up the Body.
Kind of like in the book of Acts.
To me, the abundant life consists of doing what God has instructed, and gifted, us to do. Can you imagine.....
- The abundance that is being missed within the Church Body, by people failing to realize and utilize their abilities and gifts in the building up of the Body of Christ, and....
- The good work of the Body that's not being done by folks who don't know what their purpose in the church is, or are unwilling to step up, learn, and get involved?