By Published On: July 6th, 2022Categories: Leader Blog, Meditation for Preparation0 Comments

In the 1964 book Notes on the Synthesis of Form, architect Christopher Alexander describes how good designs are made of self-contained systems; you don’t want interdependence for everything in a building. For example, the structure of the kitchen shouldn’t determine the layout of the bathroom above it. Instead, the kitchen and the bathroom should be independent. The shape of the front door is unrelated to the layout of the living room: they are independent of one another.  This book that encourages independent design elements has been influential on generations of designers and engineers. 

As individual humans and Christians, we love our independence as well. The vocational work you do doesn’t directly affect me. We can spend our days doing different things or even change jobs at will. You could give up a hobby, or I could start a new one. In actuality, God intended us to have lots of freedom as Christians in our ordinary lives.

Yet, as God is accomplishing His mission on earth and putting Christians together into local churches, He creates us not to be independent but rather just the opposite: He creates us to be interdependent.

In the Apostle Paul’s day, the church in Corinth had many problems with division. Some were wealthy, and others struggled financially. Some were married, and others thought marriage was wrong. There were differences in ethnic background. In addition, some believed that certain gifts of the Spirit were superior to others. Beyond that, they believed they would be fine without some of these capabilities. Read 1 Corinthians 12:7-25.

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. . . .

And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 

[Paul would answer all these questions: No!] For God’s mission, He made local church members to operate in dependence on one another. The church body relies on one another in the same way as the parts of a body. Many think of the term dependence as weakness, but the flip side of interdependence is actually mutual benefit. God is working the same way at North Wake. He has poured out numerous gifts from His Holy Spirit into various people at North Wake Church so that we can enable one another to accomplish God’s mission.

When working together, it’s often much easier to see someone else’s strengths and focus on your limitations. However, if we are as interdependent as Paul says, God put you at North Wake because we would be lacking without you. You need to exercise your gifts so that I can exercise mine.

Wisdom & Shepherding

Suppose you’re thinking of someone at North Wake who can do the work of Small-Group shepherding and leading, but God gives you wisdom and time to organize a community outreach for the small group. By sharing and assisting in this way, you’re using your gifts. In turn, by shepherding the small group, the leader enables you to exercise your capabilities. Both facilities granted by God are necessary for His mission: one to shepherd the small group members and one to engage that small group in telling others about the truth and meaning of Jesus’s death and resurrection.

Serving & Teaching

Here’s another example. Teaching and helping are two gifts Paul listed*. Paul says these are like two body parts. We could think of them as the mouth and the hands. They need each other.  You may see serving in areas such as caring for young children so others can attend worship as a lesser gift. But in fact, your serving enables others to learn from the teaching. The teaching of families with young children cannot happen without those who serve. (Incidentally, those who are able are needed for this exact purpose! Please consider joining and helping.)

What Gifts Do You Value?

What gifts do you see another person at North Wake using for God’s Mission? Praise God for allowing you to see His Holy Spirit in that person and reflect on the promise that God has given gifts for you to use that are just as necessary. 

Is there a gap you see that you would like to fill because you think God may have equipped you to try it out? Even if you don’t know the connection between your capability and others’, when you allow God to work through you and serve with the strength He provides, you are enabling other North Wakers to use God’s gifts fully.

* Appendix: Brainstorming Spiritual Gifts

How might Paul’s listed gifts of the spirit be applied at North Wake, in ways that serve the Kingdom of God and enable others to use their gifts?

Paul gives different lists of gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12:9-10, Ephesians 4:11, and Romans 12:6-8. Because the lists vary, many believe Paul did not intend these lists to be complete. [David Garland, 1 Corinthians, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the NT, 2003]

The main items on this list are taken from Paul’s lists of examples of gifts of the Spirit; these are underlined. The sub-points are examples to start thinking about capabilities God might have enabled you to exercise, which can contribute to God’s mission and allow others to use their gifts of the Holy Spirit.

  • Giving
    • Financial Support
    • Filling emergency needs
    • Providing groceries and toiletries for the FEED ministry
    • Offering room in your house for a visiting missionary
    • Hosting Singles Events or Small Group events at your home
  • Leading (“kubernesis”)
    • Applying to be trained to be a Small Group leader
    • Offering encouragement and helpful advice to the volunteers maintaining the North Wake campus
    • Meeting a pastor to suggest new ways to work in God’s Kingdom-Building Mission
  • Discernment
    • Participate in discussions in your small group about current issues and ideas
    • Offer good questions and wisdom in the North Wake budgeting process
    • Pray for your friends at North Wake and the leaders to wisely pursue God’s mission
  • Helping & Serving
    • Providing child-care for very young children so their parents can attend worship and classes on Sunday mornings
    • Set in up chairs and tables for funerals and other events at church
  • Doing acts of mercy for the suffering
    • Watch the Prayer-Request List for Specific Needs and fulfilling them
    • Connect with North Wake staff to find ways to help when more private needs become known to leaders
  • Apostles – Potentially focused on church planting
    • While I understand that God does not have Apostles — in the same sense as Peter and Paul — living on earth today, the practice of church planting is an exercise of the apostolic task
    • Applying to be trained to support a church plant
  • Shepherding
  • Teaching, Exhorting, Ability to speak messages of wisdom & knowledge for the common good
    • In your small group, offer to lead Bible reading and study
    • Join a “Harvest Team” on weekends to explain the gospel to those who don’t know Christ
    • Teach God’s truth in your own family
    • Volunteer to help teach in elementary children’s ministry
    • Volunteer to teach in Student Ministry (Middle School and High School)
    • Apply to join the Ministry Intensive to grow in your teaching capabilities
  • Prophecy
    • Study to apply God’s word to current-day events
  • Working Miracles with faith when God has revealed he is working – potentially focused on healing
    • Pray regularly for those who are sick in our midst
    • Visit those who are sick when helpful
  • Speaking in various kinds of tongues (other languages); Interpreting tongues
    • Use your natural skills for languages to get educated in different languages and join the Harvest Teams as they visit those who don’t know Christ but speak other languages.