This coming Sunday, we’re looking at the analogy Paul makes about the church. He compares the community of faith to body parts working together. He writes,
12 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. 13 For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
14 Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot would 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.
This analogy was not unique in Paul’s day. Other writers in the Roman world used this image to describe the social hierarchy. The elite were considered the heads and the lesser citizens who did all the hard labor were the hands and feet. That’s not what Paul means. In fact, Paul argues against this sort of understanding. Paul reminds this church in Corinth that one part is not more important than the other. All depend on the other.
In the life of the church, I have the privilege of witnessing how people use their gifts and play their unique role. We put together a stewardship team at Haygood (’tis the season) and it’s been fun watching how each person is uniquely equipped to carry out different tasks. Our chairperson has done a terrific job of overseeing the specific projects within the campaign while allowing each person on the team to use their gifts. She did an especially good job with our home gatherings where she helped guide discussions on the hopes and dreams of our members. The reason? She leads focus groups for her work and knows how to get people to engage.
One of our team members was assigned the mailing because she’s been around for a while and knows who might be missing from our mailing list. She’s a good organizer. Another church person was assigned to format our brochure. Why? He formats brochures for a living. Another person was assigned to write and edit the brochure. Why? She’s an ad writer. There are some punchy, good descriptions in there. Another person was assigned to coordinate decorations. Why? She teaches interior design. She has put together displays of our church members’ hopes and dreams for 2019. They match the altar flowers each Sunday. There’s much more I could say. I think you get the picture.
Early in ministry in my first church, I may have tried to fill many of those parts on my own. I would scramble to pull together the mailing list, write a bland brochure and create displays that would make the Pinterest fails hall of fame. It wasn’t that I was bad at all of these jobs. I was often overwhelmed and wasn’t equipped. Our Bishop tells the laity often not to let the pastor hog all the ministry. She’s right.
This year, the quality of the work has gone up. My stress level has gone down. And there’s a buzz around the church because of the engagement level of our church members. Our final celebration is this Sunday and there’s good momentum as we round the corner. Yes, I’m one of the many members of our stewardship team making final calls to get a head count for Sunday’s luncheon (D.B.A barbecue and banana pudding). It’s great to be part of the Body of Christ where we each learn to play our part.