The Gift of Teaching
It is no small undertaking to address the church body. 1 Corinthians 14:26 describes a church gathering when it states, “when you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.” The context to the Biblical concept of open, participatory gatherings is the phrase, “let all things be done for building up.” We must take every sentence, every word before the Lord to ensure that what we address the church body with is purely out of a motive of building up.
How can one be so sure what will build up the body and what won’t? One way is discernment through the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:10,14). In addition to this, we must know the body. To know the flock, one doesn’t need to be a shepherd per se, but they must at least have a shepherd's heart and know the sheep (John 10:14).
This is why at Sandbox Church when someone wants to address the body, they are to discuss it first with the church Elders. The Elders ultimately hold the responsibility for what gets spoken over their flock (Heb 13:17, Acts 20:28). And it is the Elders’ ultimate responsibility to protect the body against false teaching (Acts 20:29-31). This goes along with what James 3:1 says, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.”
As a church we are absolutely committed to developing everybody in their gifting, especially in teaching and/or their Ephesians 4 fivefold gifting. However, because scripture specifically calls this one out in James 3:1, the fact that there will be judgment if handled incorrectly and the damage it has the potential to do to others, we give this subject extra attention to making sure that those who operate in this gifting (for them and the people they are speaking to) aren’t put in a dangerous position.
Before the Elders allow someone to be in a speaking role at Sandbox, we do our best to evaluate their life and their service within our body. Speaking gifts do not qualify someone to speak before the body. We are in a culture where one’s gifts are elevated over their character, but we must do what Jesus said of looking at the fruit of people's lives over their gift (Matt. 7:15-20). We are moved by people who have shown a history of caring and serving within our body. Similarly, like in an office of deacon or elder, if someone wants to serve in teaching, let them prove themselves first.
Note: This should serve as an example for things like speaking at life group, giving a word during a Sunday meeting, speaking at a women’s gathering, etc. Refer to the Life Groups page or the information on Biblical elders on the Oversight & Accountability page for more information. With regards to a woman’s role in speaking and teaching in the New Testament church, refer to Empowering Women through God’s Design.