It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up...Ephesians 4:11-12
Your gift may fall in one of the two major divisions within the body. There are certain gifts that might be called general support ministries, from which the whole body receives benefit. There are four of these. Then there is another division of gifts, which might be called working gifts.
The four support ministries exist for the equipment of the saints for the work of the ministry (that is contact with the world) and for the building up of the body of Christ (that is maintaining the health of the church). Who is to do these two things? The saints, the people! That is God's intention. It is not the job of the pastors. Their work is something different. They are to train and equip, undergird, and motivate the people to do this work. It is the people who are to do the work of the church. Anything less than this is a distortion of what God intended the church to be like.
A terrible failure has occurred in the life of the church right at this point. Through the centuries, the church gradually grew away from the simple system that made it such a powerful and impelling influence upon society in its early years, and there came in gradually a terrible distortion from which we are still suffering today. The church became identified with buildings, great massive cathedrals and imposing structures, and these were referred to as the church. The popular thinking fastened upon the building as the identifying symbol of the church, instead of the people. Along with that idea there came a gradual transfer of responsibility from the people to the clergy to do the work of the ministry. Soon Christianity became a spectator sport, very much akin to the definition I recently heard of football—eleven men down on the field, desperately in need of rest, and forty thousand people up in the grandstand desperately in need of exercise!
How do you find the gift that you have? The answer is you find spiritual gifts just as you find natural talents. You musicians, how do you know that you have the gift of music? You athletes, how did you ever discover that you had an unusual physical coordination? You discover spiritual gifts in the same way. Usually you are attracted by seeing certain people exercising a gift, and that draws you to them. Then you try a few different things. You soon discover you do not have a gift for some things at all. With others, you say to yourself,
Perhaps I can do this. You enjoy some activities more than others, and this is a possible indication. What you enjoy doing is usually what God gives you the privilege of doing, for the exercise of spiritual gifts is a joyful thing to do. People take great pleasure in exercising these gifts. One important indication is to see if others recognize the gift in you and encourage you to use it. It is important that others recognize your gift.
Father, what a magnificent plan and program for this world to be helped, changed, and delivered in its utter need. God, grant that I catch something of the excitement and the challenge of using my gift.
How many today think of their local church as a building or a place to go? How has this popular thinking weakened Christ's ministry in His Body as well as the world?