Eric and I were talking about the Village recently and we started to talk about spiritual gifts. Certain churches are dominated by certain gifts. Some churches are extremely type A and may be dominated by gifts of administration and leadership. Others are more laid back and service oriented and may have many who share the gifts of helps and giving. Still others may have lots of folks with gifts of prophecy, tongues, and miracles. As we thought about the Village and its primary giftedness, we realized that the dominant gifts are discernment, mercy, encouragement, wisdom, and knowledge. Those gifts seem to shape the ways in which we are together and the ways in which we do ministry.
We are a church of introverts. If you are extroverted you are probably frustrated by that reality. We are mostly people who think deeply about people and issues. We are quite laid back, not quick to make decisions or to act swiftly. We are mostly type B. Our introversion makes it difficult to get hyped up about evangelism or church growth or expanding our facility. We have difficulty managing new things and starting and finishing projects. These things don’t make us bad, just different.
Discernment is an interesting gift. It is often a ‘gut feeling’ about a person or a situation. It is sometimes about knowing something is wrong without necessarily knowing what to do about it. It can be about articulating that something is wrong without knowing how you ‘know’ it. Discernment is also being able to determine what is true in the middle of a lot of things that are misleading. Many of us seem to share the gift of discernment.
Many of us at the Village have the gift of mercy. We weep at the pain and suffering of others. Seeing the injustices and inhumanity in this world we sob and cry out to God. The strength of this gift is that it opens people’s eyes to the plight of others. There is a deep sensitivity in the Village to suffering. Our eyes fill with tears and we wring our hands when we sit with those who struggle. The gift of mercy listens to people. It cries out to God to make things right. In the call to the Village to be agents of healing, it helps to know that there are those who hear and weep.
Another beautiful shared gift in the Village is the gift of encouragement. Encouragement is the art of helping people in difficult circumstances to persevere in their relationship with God. It is also the ability to use words, gestures, smiles, and tears to help people turn their eyes to God. It is offering good advice and a caring heart to those who are struggling. Encouragement helps move us from despair to hope.
A fourth gift we see often in the Village is the gift of wisdom. Wisdom helps us make good choices and determine best ways to navigate our lives. Godly wisdom is the wisdom that calls us to abandon the ways of the world and to pursue his ways. Wise words encourage us to embrace a godly path. Simple, godly wisdom leads us into a healthier, more productive, better life.
Another gift we see in abundance is the gift of knowledge. Knowledge is knowing lots of things and that is certainly true, but it also is ‘knowing’ Scripture and theology and right doctrine. Many Villagers read and study the Bible and know what it says and what it means. There is also knowledge about how life works. We know how to do things and what is needed to make things happen like cooking a meal for a hundred and twenty people or teaching a group of Midkids about Noah or walking people through a ‘hot seat’ experience.
All the gifts are present in our community and they are to be used, not for the benefit of the individual, but for the benefit of the kingdom of God. If you have none of the aforementioned gifts, you are particularly valuable as you bring your gift to bear. The gifts of discernment, mercy, encouragement, wisdom, and knowledge do shape how we attempt to live out our calling to bring healing to the city, one person at a time.