We are continuing the focus on gifts of the Spirit this week. But while last week was to emphasize the unity of the whole community of faith, this week shifts to the individuals who are gifted among the body. But even there we note that individual gifts serve the whole, even in ways that aren’t always seen so readily. In the preaching notes, there is a call to identify workers within the church who may have some of the “humbler” tasks and thank them during worship. Whether that be cleaners or nursery workers, or Sunday school teachers or office volunteers, find a way of recognizing their labors on behalf of the whole body. You wouldn’t be the church you are without them.
Perhaps even more difficult, or more unseen, would be to recognize those unofficial gifts that help the church be hospitable and energized. Who are the unofficial greeters or hosts, those who make even first timers feel like they belong? Who is always there to lend a hand when something needs done at church? Who drives the youth to the ball games or is first to sign up for vacation Bible school when the list goes out? Who always helps meet budget when things are tight or when something goes wrong with the HVAC system? Who wields a mean paintbrush or brings cookies for coffee hour? Who are the last ones out the door because they make sure that chairs are put back and lights turned off? There are many who share their gifts in ways that even they might not have recognized unless you point it out. There are many tasks that need doing and those who step up are sharing their gifts in a way that builds up the body. Spending time in recognition is time well spent.
But more than recognition, there could be the opportunity for some to give testimony to the joy of service and how relationships are grown through shared labor in service to others inside and outside the church. Maybe bring back the last group who went on a mission trip months ago or even longer, and ask what remains, what motivates them today from that service long ago.
Like Jesus told us, during worship we can pray for workers because the harvest is plentiful. This is not to guilt people into service, but a reminder that these individuals are not to carry the weight for everyone, but to be an example of service that invites others to share their gifts as well. There is no gift that cannot be used to build up the body.
Rev. Dr. Derek Weber, Director of Preaching Ministries, served churches in Indiana and Arkansas and the British Methodist Church. His PhD is from University of Edinburgh in preaching and media. He has taught preaching in seminary and conference settings for more than 20 years.