“3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members,  and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads,  with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.” (Romans 12:3-8 (ESV)
I read a frustrating article this morning. Something to the effect of “Ten Reasons Your Church Doesn’t Grow”. I read these things from time to time, I guess because I just need to depress myself. “It’s the numbers game, stupid.” That’s what I tell myself. It’s killing the church, and probably more so where the church looks the healthiest. We start treating people as if they are numbers. And we really aren’t worried about the growth we should be most concerned about. We want numbers because numbers translate into money and it all goes round and round. If all we are after is their money they will smell it. And yet we have these pressures on us, the mortgage on a building, the pastor’s salary, the electric bill etc. And all of that is enough to drive a man insane. It’s a lot of pressure to put on the pastor, and most likely, as long as that is the focus the congregation has given the pastor the pastor will spin wheels and get nowhere. Which is why I tell myself over and over again, I’m not going to worry about the numbers. But I have to tell myself that because I’m actually worried about the numbers. It isn’t something easily shaken. It’s why I begin my day with clickbait about growing a church.
So what does this have to do with what I am reading above in Rom. 12? Everything. I’m not here to do inventories on spiritual gifts, but I think it would be good to realize everyone is an individual with different gifts so that the church as a whole doesn’t give them guilt trips for not all looking and acting the same. The world puts enough guilt trips on our people. They don’t need another one Sunday morning. This is not going to help “grow” the church. But that is what the numbers game does. It guilt trips the pastor, who then guilt trips the people, who then are left with nothing but guilt to give their neighbor, and the devil wins. Yes, it all does roll downhill.
Members do not all have the same function, the hand isn’t a foot, the liver isn’t a kidney. These are the members Paul is talking about, the idea is more about different organs than it is an arm or a leg, but those concepts are there also. The point is, we all have different gifts. We all have different functions. We are all part of the same body. The church maybe the bride of Christ, but that doesn’t mean the members are a cadre of Stepford Wives that all have to conform and act the same. Not everyone is an evangelist. Of course, your pastor is, either that or he isn’t a pastor. His whole job is the gospel and teaching the gospel, and that is what the word evangelism means at its root.
Not everyone in the congregation has the same gifts, nor should they. And everyone is at a different place in their lives. For some, just getting there two weeks a month, is really and honestly all they can do. It helps when they are greeted with the gospel, the forgiveness of sins and a smile, and not a fake one either, the smile should have coffee stained teeth. I think this is part of the problem. If we as a congregation don’t appreciate each other, and the people we have in church there is a huge problem. If we can’t appreciate ourselves, how can we appreciate our community? And if we don’t appreciate our community, how in the world do we expect to communicate the gospel to them? Part of this is realizing that no matter what we think we see, these people perform a function in the congregation, they may not even be aware of it. Not everyone is a mouth, some are perhaps a toe nail, but toe nails are important or we wouldn’t have them to paint and look pretty. Let’s paint them red with the blood of Christ.