So lately I’ve been pondering the divide between vocational and marketplace ministry, specifically its relationship to spiritual gifts.
‘Cause I’ll be honest: I don’t get the chasm…the compartmentalization among these facets.
I mean…it’s not like the seven spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12) were ever meant to be exclusive to pastoral leaders or limited to “inside church use” only. Certainly the church would have the common sense to teach/preach the seven motivational gifts (the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit) as gifts designed for everyone to apply anywhere…right?
Oh snap, did I just stumble into a white elephant?
Eh, maybe I did. But still…this needs to be talked about. After all, if we desire to be the opposite of what Paul warned about in 1 Corinthians 12:1 (i.e. misinformed), it only makes sense to buckle up and dive into the issue.
But before we do, permit me to provide some context.
In my experience, the abuse of ‘spiritual gift teaching’ falls into two primary camps:
- The notion that spiritual gift development can only happen in the church.
- The notion that spiritual gift application can only happen in the church.
Granted, I know there are more categories, but for now, we’ll narrow our focus on these two criteria in hope to debunk some faulty doctrine.
Lie 1: Spiritual gift development can only happen in the church.
I’m not sure how this deception started, but no question, the legalistic undertones are evident considering it assumes a) life should be nothing more than the work of the ministry1, b) business matters are inherently evil because man is inherently evil, and c) the marketplace is a byproduct of the fall; however, when we look at Adam/Eve’s original design, we find the marketplace and the establishment of institutional order to be a byproduct of creation. After all, when God created man, He also created his role…and considered it good (Genesis 1:26-31)
Thus, it’s important to note how the garden was just as much marketplace as it was ministry…and why it’s dangerous to compare and contrast ministry and marketplace as segregated entities. ‘Cause truth is: we may experience spiritual gift activation in the church; however, this doesn’t mean development can’t happen outside it given God is a God of grace, has the loving power to ignite one’s heart anytime, anywhere, and intended pursuing love and earnestly desiring spiritual gifts to go hand in hand (1 Corinthians 14:1).
Bottom line: The reality of love and the truth of creation give credence to spiritual gift development happening anywhere, not just the church.
Lie 2: Spiritual gift application can only happen in the church.
Dare I say it…this one may be even more baffling than the first. Again, the church was meant to equip and mobilize, not centralize and maintain. So why anyone would think the church was designed to be an entertainment hub as opposed to a stewarding/dispersion center is beyond me, especially when you consider the purpose of church is to worship God through word and prayer, to love one another, partake of baptism and the Lord’s Supper…and oh, yeah…go therefore and make [disciple-makers] (Acts 2:42).
Yes, learning how to apply and mature our spiritual gifts in a koinonia (Greek for fellowship, sharing in common) setting is essential; however, if such demonstration is limited to “in-house”, can we honestly say the our faith is reaching where it needs to?
Bottom line: Spiritual gifts are meant to be shared as salt and light with the world, not stashed as inventory in the secret basements of what we call church. Thus, if what we believe reduces spiritual gifts to an iPhone and church as a charging port, I strongly encourage you: shift your paradigm…and dare to apply/extend what you experience in church to other places of influence.
Looking ahead to next month, expect a more intimate dig into what pastoral ministry in the marketplace looks like (with a more defined emphasis on how to rightfully use spiritual gifts in our areas of business)…with a subsequent series on what marketplace ministry looks like in the church later on.
For now, if any of this content resonates, feel free to comment below. And as always, if you have a prayer request/praise report, there’s a place for that on His Girl Fryday.
Blessings on your week,
1) More specifically…”ministry as ministry”
Photo creds: Shutterstock (edited by Cameron Fry)ly