Giving to the local church. I'm not referring to tithing here (though we should all do that), but to the offering up of our time and talents. Do you serve within your church? In a capacity that makes use of your spiritual gifts?
We worshippers tend toward one of these two mindsets: "I have done my time, it's someone else's turn," or
"If I don't do it, nobody will." I propose to you that both of these thought patterns are flawed.
Everyone should serve in a volunteer capacity.
Yes, everyone. Those who are paid staff of the church should find a way to serve elsewhere that is unpaid. Full time mothers with fifteen small children need to find a place to volunteer. Hard working men ought to seek out a ministry to get involved with. Every single person in the church body has a vital role to fill, and without me, without you, the church is merely functioning - not thriving.
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many...
Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. As it is, there are many parts, but one body...
But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
~1 Corinthians 12:12, 14-20, 24b-27
Each person should use their God-given gifts in service.
When I had small children, I volunteered in the nursery. Because I "should." Those nursery Sundays were the most mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually draining 90 minutes of my life. I would get up in the morning dreading it, and would leave exhausted and short-tempered with my family. Until I discovered my spiritual gifts, one of which is administration.
Have you ever thought about how much work goes into the oversight of the church nursery? Creating spreadsheets and name tags, writing newsletters, keeping track of sign-ins and clearances. (If you're from a smaller church, perhaps this list of "need tos" has you shaking your head. All I can tell you is that large church culture is different and requires more extensive security precautions.) Needless to say, I discovered that there were ways to give my time to the nursery ministry that used my spiritual gifts.
God doesn't call us all to fill the vacancies in church ministry (although, I won't dare say never...sometimes He will ask us to do something completely stretching), He calls each of us to serve Him in a specific way. In a way that He has equipped us to serve, to give.
In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.
~Romans 12:4-8 (NLT)
Giving love, money, and time to the needs at home and abroad is necessary. As is giving time, talent, and effort in our local church. Doing one without the other is like...well, I don't know, exactly...incomplete.
Scratch that ending - you tell me! I need a good metaphor, simile, or analogy. Go ahead and fill in the blank (in the comments). :)