#11: Mission and spiritual gifts #TaylorTuesdays


We must hold on to the fact that the Spirit works by putting us in touch, making us see. It is surely significant that, when Paul lists the gifts and the form of ministry with which the Holy Spirit endowed the church of his day, he lumps together speaking in tongues and administration, exorcism and teaching, in complete indifference to the distinction we now draw between the natural and supernatural…

All the Spirit’s gifts are wonderful; all are marked by a certain spontaneity; but none is meant to be weird. They are incalculable, not incomprehensible. And, what is more important, they are corporate… And in the light of this I shall invite you to consider what the church as a whole needs to learn, or recover, from the pentecostal movement for the sake of its mission to all the world.

The Go-Between God, pp.202-3

What role should the gifts of the spirit play in mission?

If mission is ultimately the activity of the Holy Spirit, then it makes sense the the spiritual gifts described by Paul are given with the purpose of enabling God’s Mission. For many of us, we are more aware of some of these Gifts of the Spirit than others, depending on our theological background.

For some we are least comfortable with the gifts which could be categorised ‘supernatural’, holding the view that God is well and truly present in the ordinary without the need for overly spiritual gifts. For others, gifts of healing and prophecy might well be at the core of our missional activity, whilst the more ordinary gifts are less important or even viewed with suspicion (Do administrative structures and too much intellectual bible study prevent us from operating in and living by faith alone?)

What is interesting about Taylor, is that he doesn’t think this distinction between the ordinary and extraordinary is necessary. For him, what matters is that they are used to draw us all together, rather than to separate some apart as individuals, and that all are used to serve the Mission of God to the world.

Some questions to ponder:

  • Which of the spiritual gifts listed in the New Testament are you more or less comfortable with?
  • How much have you thought about the role that the gifts of the spirit play in your approach to mission?
  • What ways can you use the things you’ve been gifted with to draw people together in community, rather than to set you apart as an ‘expert’?


What do you think? Join in the conversation by leaving a comment.

Each Tuesday we’re posting a quote from John V. Taylor with some thoughts and questions for reflection. John (or J.V.) Taylor (1914 – 2001) was the General Secretary of the Church Missionary Society, and Bishop of Winchester, and wrote several seminal books on theology of mission, including The Go-Between God: The Holy Spirit and the Christian Mission and The Primal Vision: Christian Presence Amid African Religion. Find all the Taylor Tuesdays posts here.
About the author: James Henley
James Henley
James has been with The Lab since 2007 and leads our team. He's an ordained pioneer minister in the Church in Wales.