Friday, April 22, 2011

Adult Sunday School

I will likely be teaching again. Team-teaching this time, if we can work it out, which is something I'm less used to.

The topic is identifying and using one's gifts, so that new people can integrate into the life of the church, and others can look at their possibilities with fresh eyes. Exactly what we should be doing, really.

Here's my long-standing worry: I have a peculiar horror of Christians attributing the direct action of God to entirely natural talents. Oh, he's really an anointed speaker...she has a gift of discernment... and the like. I likely object because I saw too many cases where it was claimed, but clearly untrue. Discernment turned out to be nothing more than an awareness of current evangelical fads; anointing which was nothing more than cliches delivered with energy. I could blame it on having been in a 1970's Jesus Freak culture, but I think I had that discomfort right from the start. Natural abilities are perfectly good things, also given by God, and talents we are responsible for. Acts 6 seems a good model for assigning responsibilities. You will notice that the requirement is that they are generally "full of the Spirit and wisdom." No one is testing them whether they have "gifts of administration," nor whether they have experience in administration. Either/both seems fine.

I believe in directly bestowed spiritual gifts. I am now unsure whether such gifts are given permanently, though I was originally taught this was the case. But I accept that they can be given for an occasion, because I have seen them, and even displayed them in specific situations. I don't know that I can identify a spiritual gift that has been enduring in me. I have nominations, but not entire confidence.

I suppose my worry is that we will encourage chuckleheads to be even more chuckleheaded. But in our congregation, the opposite is more likely to be the problem. Suburban congregations are more in danger of being spiritually tentative than of suddenly deciding they should be "totally changed into fire," as the Desert Father Abba Joseph said. Instead of worrying about this, perhaps I should encourage it.


Sponge-headed ScienceMan said...

I'd be in favor of Chuckleheads for Christ over Pirates for Christ, at least in the church I attend.

Dubbahdee said...

Why oh why oh why are we still doing classes on finding your spiritual gifts? As if it could (or should) be determined like some kind of personality test?

If we MUST go there, rather than approaching it as a matter of introspection (godly or not so much)I would rather people who know me tell ME what my gifts are. This approach seems theologically more sound than concocting a jesus+meyers-briggs instrument out of thin air, laden with all manner of preconception that has nothing to do with scriptural teaching.

Now that would be a class wouldn't it.

Shirley: You know Bill, after much prayer and fasting, I think your gift is Giving.

Bill: Shirley, not eating the cake at the coffee hour doesn't count as fasting, and I'm not the only one who can write a check around here.