By Mark A. Taylor
You might say the idea for posts at our site this month began with a blog entry that appeared in December 2014. Sandra Crawford Williamson asked, “Why Are Working Women Starting to Unplug from Their Churches?” in a piece posted at the Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics.*
One of her answers centered on the contrast between the work responsibilities of many women and the service opportunities the church offers them. A woman “may run a multibillion-dollar firm, argue a legal case, or manage a $500 million investment portfolio,” Williams said. But at church, women “are often only asked to make casseroles and work in the church nursery.”
Something similar can be said about men in the church too. Male professionals attending our congregations may also be overlooked—asked only to usher or help mow the church lawn—in spite of the wide range of gifts and abilities they possess. I wrote about this in my online column at christianstandard.com.* It’s possible that a wealth of potential among church members, both men and women, lies untapped and unused in the ministry of many congregations.
Part of this, as more than one post this month points out, is the tendency to limit our talk about spiritual gifts to discussions about staffing the church program. Granted, it’s a good thing for a person with the gift of administration to organize the church picnic, for a person with the gift of mercy to participate in benevolence. But even more, as my blog post last year said, churches do well to tap other gifts of members beyond “the smaller circle of church leaders” who may insist on making every decision to determine and direct the church’s mission.
And that mission extends well past the list of activities posted in the church newsletter and announced on Sunday. This month’s articles point out the beauty and potential in gifted Christians “serving in every setting.”
Here, then, is the challenge for the local church.
On the one hand, are we fully tapping the gifts of our members to shape and lead the church’s ministry, as well as to fill the slots that keep its program running?
And, on the other, are we encouraging and releasing members to see all their activity—in their workplaces, in their neighborhoods, in their community activities—as part of the church’s ministry and their own Christian service?
Answering both questions “yes” may bring our church gifts we’ve never seen before.
*Find Sandra Crawford Williamson’s blog post at https://tifwe.org/working-women-unplugging-from-church/. Mark Taylor’s response appears at https://christianstandard.com/2015/01/its-not-just-a-womans-issue/