“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.”
As we move into our postmodern future as the church, you may have noticed a lot of changes already. Gone are the days when the focus is on “great preachers” and their theological sermons, like we focused on in the second half of the 20th Century. “Next Church” focuses more on spiritual gifts of all the members, participation, spiritual renewal, and mission.
This has created anxiety – but mainly this is leftover anxiety about the decline of the Church in North America. Folks are often surprised to discover how little I care about shrinking numbers. Some get upset that my anxiety doesn’t match theirs. My token phrase: “It’s all fine. I would rather have 100 people who really care about Christ and his mission in the world, than a 1,000,000 people who don’t give a hoot about Christ.”
And in many ways, I am serious. The last thing we need is a rebirth of the “country club” mentality – that church was somehow a club for fun rather than a radical place assisting Christ as he changes the world. They were “consumers of fun” rather than “doers of good.” Thankfully that “church” has been in decline.
This mentality is what Paul is taking on with the people in Corinth. He is saying, “No. This is no country club. This is serious work. And you are part of that work. Furthermore, that work all filters in to one goal – the goal of Christ. Your spiritual gifts matter in building up the one Spirit, even though you individually have different gifts.”
And so, to those in the Church who are still counting membership rolls, or worship attendance, I say this: let’s start counting the number of people who are exploring and discovering their spiritual gifts. That will be a much more accurate thermometer for Church life and spiritual health. It will also assist us in growing up.
OK, time to get off my soap box.