WHAT WE LEARNED FROM LIVING CLASSROOM
In October AMiA sponsored Living Classroom, a three-day teaching event to equip clergy and lay leaders for the front lines. Living Classroom offered workshops and classes to give participants tools to address questions like “What are other churches doing to grow and flourish?” “How do we set a new course for our church?” “How do we identify and develop leaders in our church?” and “What does it look like to be a disciple-growing church?”
We’ve asked several participants to share with us what they taught or what they learned at Living Classroom. Below is the first such summary.
Concerning Spiritual Gifts …
by Michael+ Murphy
“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. … Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12:1,4-7)
I remember the first time I “discovered” this passage and was so excited to dive into the meat of the spiritual gifts that I quickly scanned down to verse 7 and began to try to soak it all in.
I was nearly breathless by verse 11 and was astounded that the power of the Spirit was so plainly revealed. I thought I had the basics: There are nine gifts and we should desire them all. As I asked about which of these gifts was my “major,” God said plainly, “Read it again.” So, I did.
I saw the same things, and I had not miscounted; there were still nine gifts.
God said, “Read it again.”
Not to be boring, but this went on for a while until I thought I could recite the passage perfectly.
But on the last reading (of that day), I got to the end of verse 1, and God said, “Stop. Rest here and receive the true meaning behind the words.”
It became obvious to me that Paul was saying that these are not just the Spirit’s gifts but these gifts are from the Godhead itself. There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service for the same Lord (Jesus). There are different kinds of works, but the same God works all of them in all men.
We are always to desire the things, the tools, that God gives us. Paul, who was instructed in the faith in a very unique way, seemed to be saying to me, “Don’t be fooled by what others say about this phenomenal gift. This is what I have already learned myself and taught to others in the faith.”
There has always been an aura of mystery about spiritual gifts with very little actual understanding of the miracles that God performs in front of our very eyes. Being naturally supernatural is our intended state of being; and, by denying that, we miss the power and authority in being submitted disciples of Jesus. The church, in this moment, needs all the resources that it has been given, and needs to reapply the collective wisdom of the now thousands of years of witnessing to the power of God revealed in, on and among his people.
I believe that our greatest distinctive in the Anglican Mission is that we do not just believe in three-stream worship but we live it out in through our liturgical services, in our outreach, in our prayers, in the way we serve our communities and in our fellowship together, in ways that give glory to God and bring blessing to those around us. To be truly transformational, I believe that we must embrace the fullness of the gifts: work in them, teach them and use them in all the normal and natural ways God intended.
To that end, we go into this mission field full of confidence that we are equipped to do the ministry of building up the church. This is the main purpose of the spiritual gifts in the first place and it is our first promise and our first call.
Michael+ Murphy was ordained in 2002 at Saint Andrew’s Church in Little Rock, where he served for three years. In 2005 he answered a call to South Carolina to do two things: serve a new plant in Mount Pleasant and work more closely with Bp. Chuck Murphy. In his capacity in the Anglican Mission, he served as the Episcopal Vicar to Bp. Murphy and the College of Consultors until 2015. He has worked in various charismatic renewal ministries of the church since 1985 and continues to do so. In 2018, +Philip Jones, AMiA Lead Bishop, asked Mike+ to serve on the Leadership Team to help navigate new generations, guided by the past, toward the future of the kingdom.