Recently I experienced something that I have not seen…well….ever. I attended a service where people were allowed to come up and take the microphone for a limited time and express whatever was on their heart. Some spoke of what the Lord was dealing with them about. Some declared favor over the crowd. Some thoughts were deep and some were rather simple. Some taught and some preached. In the end many got to say something and excercise a gift that is in all of us.
“Lay people”which is a religious word for those who do a lot of work and don’t get paid….well lay people are told they too are ministers and that they need to speak and preach and share with those around them in their communities, at their jobs, and in their families. Unfortunately beyond the admonition to do this there is seldom any training. So as I watched…..I thought…. the best way to learn how to share the gospel is to ….share the gospel. These folks were being allowed to do something that was not normally permitted and at the same time they were being taught to share by being allowed to share. What a concept!!
As I have thought about this more I remembered seeing a Marvel superhero movie, one of the many in the gendra, where young mutants were encouraged to practice the gifting’s that they had inside of them. Not all of their practice was good. Some of them were blowing things up and catching things on fire but in the end how else were they to learn to use the power that was inside of them? Practice was essential and they were practicing in safe places and environments that were suited to learning how to use the power.
This is precisely what these folks were doing in church that day. They were practicing in a safe environment a place where people love them and their Pastor could minister to or direct them if necessary….and I thought….this should be happening everywhere. The gifts need to be in operation in the church but how does one learn to operate in the gifts if never allowed to practice. Church is supposed to be a safe place and if so then it’s the perfect place to practice and learn. Paul tells us in 1 Cor 12 that we should want the best gifts and then shows us an awesome gift or as he calls it a more excellent way and in chapter 13 unfolds the gift of love. But the easiest place to practice these gifts is in the church among people who know you and love you and have only your best interest at heart. And the more you practice the better you will become at operating in the gifts and the more likely you will be to operate in those gifts outside of the church where they can do even greater good.
The fact is as we practice it’s not always perfect… it’s not always what we want it to be….we don’t say it just right …..it doesn’t look just right….it doesn’t sound just right, but there’s only one way to get it right and that is to keep on trying. I know what this means. I’m talking to those of us who spend a lot of time in control. Preachers, pastors, and leaders we are going to have to relinquish a little control and allow the gifts to be practiced. We might have to relinquish more than a little control but I believe the results will be awesome. And because I know it will come up let me address 1 Corinthians 14. Paul was speaking to issues of confusion where the operation of the gifts were concerned but he was not discouraging the operation of the gifts. We have used this scripture incorrectly and discouraged the gifts unwittingly. They clearly felt comfortable operating in the gifts and Paul was comfortable teaching them how to do so more effectively.
Those that are watching us from the outside should marvel(puny huh) at the gifts that are at work in us not wonder why there are no signs following us that believe. When we as leaders encourage the gifts…. they will not always look the way we think they should….fortunately we have the wisdom of Paul in 1 Corinthians and the guidance of the Holy Ghost to help us teach and encourage those we lead. I doubt any of us preached all that great the first time even though we practiced. So….let’s give a little room to those we lead and let them learn. We keep telling them that they are powerful and full of His spirit. We keep wondering when they are going to stop just sitting there. Well the alternative is not comfortable but it is extremely necessary. Let them practice what you preach.