Where do Spiritual Gifts fit into Simple Church?

  Saturday 15th July, 2017
  Author: Phil Brown

In simple churches, who does what? To be honest, it's fairly simple!

People tend to serve as they feel led and in ways that fit them as there are few if any appointed positions to aspire to. The motto is “if it needs doing – do it.” If you want to coordinate a group, pray and invite friends and go for it. Of course, some guidance, equipping and support are needed and healthy but I guess you see the picture. Many denominations and individuals have various theologies of spiritual gifts so this isn’t a theological treatise but observations of what actually tends to happen with followers of Jesus who gather in simple church groups

Every believer has a responsibility to reach out and to love others and to share Jesus and the gospel of the Kingdom with new people. We all do it in the capacity that the Lord gives us. As I have observed missional communities I’ve reflected on how the New Testament teaching of spiritual gifts applies to them. (See E 4:1-16, 1Cor 12, Romans 12:3-8 etc). Obviously, it still does, and finding and expressing ones particular gift is important.

Indeed some believe that each believer can be used by the Holy Spirit with a particular gift as the occasion requires. For example, one may not generally exercise the gift of healing, but be called to pray for a sick person who is present and the Lord heals them. Our youngest son Kieran recently in a men’s prayer time felt led to ask if anyone had pain in their knee. An 84-year-old man responded that he did and that it was bandaged up. Kieran prayed for him and the man reported the next day that the pain had gone and his knee was feeling fine! Our second youngest son Jamison was overseas and saw a man with double up feet and twisted toes shuffling and walking with difficulty. He prayed for him and the mans' feet and toes straightened – praise God! At this point, I wouldn’t say that Kieran ar Jamison had the "Gift of healing” (although they may do,) but God used them when he chose to work through them at that point because they were available.

However, it is also true that God does give people certain gifts which remain with them and are exercised frequently and seem so “natural to that person” or more correctly - “supernatural operating” in that follower of Jesus.

Mature spiritual “fathers and mothers” need to be encouraging each member to use the gifts and passion areas for the Kingdom and to exercise their spiritual gifts. Regional Coordinators should be aware of those hosting simple churches and engage in supporting their growth and development.

We also need to be looking for and affirming those who do the apostolic work of raising up new networks of missional communities and simple churches movements (apostles) and for those who are especially gifted in leading people to make decisions to follow Jesus (evangelists) (see Phil Walters excellent article on Apostles in the previous Oikos Magazine)

At present in Oikos, I see God raising up people who can serve in various ways - visiting, encouraging, shepherding. We also need to identify and work with those who exercise the gift (or office) of Apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teachers whose function is “ to prepare Gods people for works of service , so the body of Christ may be built up, and reach unity and become mature attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ (Eph 4:11-13).

I have a growing conviction that teams of people with these gifts need to visit amongst our missional communities and equip them to better serve, be united and to grow in maturity in Christ. These are “anointed not appointed” functions and giftings, and no one in simples church circles wears a title of an office or asserts positional power – “I’m apostle or prophet X,” but rather under the Spirits guidance we would see and recognise those who carry that gift with a heart of humility, service, and effectiveness. Those who are most effective bring new networks and movements into existence through the work of the Spirit probably are gifted in these ways. Those who consistently give prophetic word that proves accurate and true are gifted in as prophets, and those who train believers or shepherds and care for them best, are teachers and “pastors.” In simple church, we find that titles are absent and unnecessary, when serving, ministering and equipping others is the priority.

As we serve together under the head of the Church (Christ), and are guided by the Holy Spirit; you'll find the spiritual Body is healthy and working! We need to affirm and work effectively with these gifts and people.