We do not find gatherers listed in the New Testament gift lists, so why or how do we call gathering a spiritual gift?
Let me build fences around what I believe is true about gatherers and gathering. Hopefully these fences will corral the truth.
Profound cultural expression
Twenty Greek words and 183 occurrences of these words (155 of them referring to gathering to Jesus’ mission) are found in the New Testament. Gathering was a profound cultural reality in Jesus’ and Paul’s days. What I mean by this is that it was so common that it did not need to be mentioned. It was everywhere and everywhere accessible. Today, especially in both Latino and African American cultures, we continue to find many gatherers. In the American Anglo culture, gatherers are more difficult to find, but they profoundly exist.
Gift lists are not exhaustive
The spiritual gift lists in the New Testament are not exhaustive. We are gifted in a multifaceted way. Ephesians 4:7 says, “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” (NASB) In the context of both calling (Ephesians 4:1ff) and spiritual gifts given to the church (Ephesians 4:8 ff), we have verse 7. Grace is given to us according to the measure of Christ’ gift, Paul says. Grace in this passage is more than our salvation (as in chapters 1 and 2); Christ’s gift to us is profoundly large, infinitely large. Since there is a contextual tie to spiritual gifting here, I believe that we are spiritually gifted in a profound way. I weary of the sentiment that you have one spiritual gift, so find it and use it.
Gathering is both a birthright gift as well as a spiritual gift. It is observable as a behavior. I have known many people who were unsaved and amazing gatherers. Thus, gathering is a birthright gift, a behavior. Likewise, I see people who are saved and gather in a profound way. As I think about gathering from a behavior perspective, it helps me grasp why gathering is vital. As a behavior, it can be learned and improved; gathering is coachable. Hence gatherers come to us from any personality and any spiritual gifting.
Roles, gifts, callings, and behaviors
Not to express as dogma, but consider the spiritual gifts listed in the New Testament as gifts with body life impact (1 Corinthians 12:1-13). Spiritual gifts also denote differing roles, or vocations (Ephesians 4). Finally, spiritual gifts are the means at our disposal to do the work of the gospel.
Gathering is a doer of the word process
James 1:21-23 says, “Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” (NASB)
When I use these fences to corral the truth about gathering, I find it a behavior available to all. Some are very good at it, but all can do it (Matthew 12:30). When the behavior is tied to calling, spiritual gifting and cultural expression, we discover the incredible value gatherers have for Jesus’ mission. I do see a spiritual gift dynamic tied to a post conversion life of someone who gathers well.
Do you want to know more about Gathering and the GSE process? Let’s talk.