Do People Have an Obligation to Use their Talents for the Church?

If people have talents in music, writing, hospitality, technology, or some other area that could benefit the church community, do they have an obligation to do so?

God-given gifts and talents are, as a general rule, to be used for the “benefit of church and kingdom,” as we like to say. As with other things of value, these are not private possessions to be hoarded, but a part of the commonwealth of the community. Note, however, that they are for the benefit of church and kingdom.

We should remember that the church is not the only arena that counts. It is easiest for us to grasp that activities within the context of church life are a form of worship. A proper kingdom theology, however, understands that all uses of God’s gifts are a form of worship, regardless of where or when they are expressed.

The upshot is that we should seriously consider how our gifts and abilities can benefit the community and offer them cheerfully as appropriate. There are, to be sure, other considerations that come into play. If our gift or talent is a significant part of our daily work such that we are immersed in its expression, Sunday may be a place of refuge, respite, or sabbath from our daily work. A band director or guitar instructor is not demonstrating poor stewardship because they would prefer not to lead the praise band on Sunday.

In a similar vein, some people might find the attention that comes with public expression of their talents to be unwelcome, causing anxiety and discomfort. A sensitive church community will not force people into the public eye when such attention might be damaging.

About the Author

Rolf Bouma is an ordained pastor in the Christian Reformed Church who teaches religion, ethics, and ecology in the Program in the Environment at the University of Michigan.

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