Summary: If we want a growing church that builds itself up in love, then we must accept our spiritual gifts, develop them and use them wherever and whenever we can.
When a local church broke ground for a new 500-seat sanctuary, an inventive church member made sure everyone could participate in the experience. The man attached a 145-foot handle to a stainless steel spade so that all 300 members could squeeze together to turn the first shovel full of dirt.
A few days later, when a construction worker spotted the odd shovel and asked what it was for, the minister replied, “We bury 'em deep here.” (Rhonda Reese, Jacksonville, Florida, Christian Reader, “Lite Fare”)
I like that pastor’s sense of humor, and I like the symbolism of that ground-breaking ceremony.
We did a similar thing in Ellsworth, Kansas, when we got ready to build our new church facility there. We tied a rope to an old hand plow. Then the entire congregation grabbed a hold of that rope, and together we pulled that little plow to break the ground. We ended up breaking the rope, but not before we had a nice little furrow in the ground. We were trying to communicate the fact that it takes everybody working together to build a strong church.
You say, “Phil, that’s a nice sentiment, but it doesn’t seem very practical. How can we get EVERYBODY working together? How can we get EVERY member to do his or her work, so we can have a strong church right here in Lyons, Kansas. Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Ephesians 4, Ephesians 4, where the Bible shows us how.
Ephesians 4:7-10 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) –ESV
After Christ died, was buried and rose again, he ascended to the place of all authority. Our King, victorious over death and hell, is now above all other rulers in this world and in the heavenly realms as well. He is King of kings and Lord or lords, and from that position he has determined to bless all His subjects with special gifts.
In ancient Rome, when a victorious military general returned home victorious from battle, he would lead a big victory parade down Main Street. It was quite a spectacle, with the General and his army carrying the spoils of war and the prisoners of war following behind. In other words, “He led a host of captives and gave gifts to men”. The general gave the spoils of war to the soldiers in his army.
Well, that’s exactly what Jesus did for us after he died and rose again. He returned home victorious, and now He is passing out the spoils of war to all his followers. He is distributing gifts to all those who believe in Him. Only, they are NOT gifts of gold and silver. They are SPIRITUAL gifts. They are SUPERNATURAL abilities to serve Him and His people.