Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
Raised Catholic (Elementary and High School and Catholic Fraternity in college and post grad degree at a Catholic college) I recognize the weakness of the hierarchal structure of the Catholic Church. However, I also recognize the wisdom of those in power. They are very good at discerning the gifts of their priests and assigning them titles and roles that make the best use of those gifts. Even when they disenfranchise an entire sex from participation in management, they do a very good job of utilizing that group's gifts.
During my pilgrimage from Catholicism to Quakerville I was blessed by stays in both Pentacostal and Evangelical communities where I was exposed to bodies that overemphasized the individual importance of those with gifts cited in Ephesians 4, often cited as the Five Fold Ministry. The blessing was that they emphasized, unlike the Catholic Church, that anyone could operate in these gifts and they encouraged the desire to do so.
Now that I have spent some time within the Quaker community, I wish to share an observation that I think deserves discussion and prayer and that is the apparent lack of understanding within the community of the role these gifts play in a healthy community. While I recognize the validity of avoiding establishment of a hierarchy, I believe that all members need to understand there are spiritual gifts that should be utilized and encouraged when recognized. We members ourselves must understand there is a special spiritual aura that surrounds individuals with these gifts that have nothing to do with the individual's character or intellect. These people are not special in themselves and it would be a dis-service to give them a title unnecessarily except in extreme cases where the person's character and gift are proven exemplary. I believe that members sometimes find such gifts as threatening to the Quaker Process instead of welcoming them for what they are. Ephesians clearly states in 4:11 & 12 the purpose of these gifts:
Eph 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
Eph 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
These gifts are for the community. Use them or lose them. Learn from the mistakes of our sister churches without depriving the community of the gifts God provides.