Often ministry is viewed as the responsibility of professional Christians like pastors or members of the clergy. But the Bible is clear that each Christian has a special, God-given role to play:
“Instead, we will hold to the truth in love, becoming more and more in every way like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. Under his direction, the whole body is fitted together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” – Ephesians 4:15,16
Paul uses the term “body of Christ” to describe how Christians, like the various parts of a human body, depend on each other to thrive and grow. In a healthy church, each member is actively involved in some form of service. As we each perform our “special work,” the whole body grows.
This packet of materials is designed to help you understand the special way God has prepared you to serve others in the body of Christ, and specifically those in your home church. Home church is not the only arena in which we serve, but it’s where we should start. The New Testament prioritizes establishing a ministry among the community of local Christians God has placed us in (see John 13:34,35; Rom. 12:10-13; 14:19; 15:5-7,14; 1 Cor. 12:18-27; Gal. 5:13; Eph. 4:1-3,25,32; 5:18-21; Phil. 2:3-5; Col. 3:13-16; 1 Thes. 3:12;4:9;5:11; Heb. 3:13; 10:24,25; Jas. 5:16; 1 Peter 1:22; 4:8-10; 1 Jn. 3:11,23; 4:7,11,12; 2 Jn. 1:5).
Follow the steps below. As you read these materials and work through each exercise, ask God to help you understand the role he wants you to play in your home church.
Step 1: Complete the worksheet titled Spiritual Gifts in the New Testament
Step 2: Read the paper titled Spiritual Gifts and Home Group Ministry
Step 3: Read the paper titled Spiritual Gift Descriptions
Step 4: Take the Spiritual Gifts Test
Spiritual Gifts in the New Testament
Read the following passages that describe spiritual gifts and answer the questions below. When you are finished, turn this worksheet into your TA. It is due by the 9th week of class.
- Romans 12:1-8
- 1 Corinthians 12-14
- Ephesians 4:1-16
- 1 Peter 4:8-11
1. What is a spiritual gift?
2. Where do our spiritual gifts come from?
3. How is the use of our spiritual gifts supposed to effect other people in the church?
4. Why has God given different people different gifts?
5. What happens to the local church when Christians do not use their spiritual gifts?
Spiritual Gifts and Home Group Ministry
God has given each of us a unique purpose in His plan; he has "significant accomplishments" awaiting us. Ephesians 2:10 states, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." This can be very fuzzy to us, especially early in our Christian lives. Sadly, many Christians live out their entire lives without this purpose becoming more and more clear. One of the best ways to begin to experience the reality of Ephesians 2:10 is to learn what the Bible teaches about spiritual gifts.
The relationship between spiritual gifts, ministries and effects
“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. And there are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” – 1 Corinthians 12:4-7
Spiritual gifts are God-given capabilities to serve others so that they are impacted for and/or built up spiritually in Jesus Christ. They are given “for the common good.”
We should not view spiritual gifts as limits on our capability to serve others (i.e. the evangelist is not the only one to evangelize), but rather as special areas of aptitude. Every Christian has at least one spiritual gift (1 Corinthians 12:7,11). The Spiritual Gift Descriptions paper we have provided lists twenty-three different gifts, but this list is not complete. There is no exhaustive list of spiritual gifts recorded in the Bible.
When gifts are exercised and developed, the result is a ministry. A ministry is the sphere of the operation of your gifting. This sphere includes the needs you are seeking to meet and the people you are serving in your gifted areas.
Effects are the outcome of our ministries: the ministry fruit that results, the people that are impacted for Christ and the specific needs that are met. Each person will have different kinds of ministry fruit according to their gifting. Some will have a more visible, dramatic effect while others will tend to serve behind the scenes.
The importance of discovering your gifts
There are several reasons why it’s important that you seek to discover your spiritual gifts:
1. Discovering your gifts can give you a greater sense of significance and purpose. This sense of purpose supplies motivation to turn away from our old way of life and to begin growing spiritually. According to Paul, growing spiritually involves not just fleeing our old lifestyle, but pursuing something new:
“Now flee from youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” – 2 Timothy 2:22
Seeing God impact others through you when you exercise your gift is deeply rewarding. It takes the shine off of our old temptations and draws us to God’s alternative.
It is much easier to resist sin when you replace it with the stimulation of ministry. You will develop a deep sense of purpose as you see God using your gifts to build up others. As this happens, you will find greater resistance to the seduction of the world (1 John 2:15,16), which is only a counterfeit to the real purpose for your life.
2. It will provide more insight into God's will for your life and God's guidance in your life. God wants us to use our gifts to minister to others. As you discover your gifting, you will be able to see specific ways God wants you to serve. Knowing this will have many practical implications for decision-making in your life.
3. It provides additional opportunity for experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit working through you. This is one of the features of gifting – the Holy Spirit often empowers you with special intensity and ability as you serve in that area.
4. It helps overcome fearfulness and timidity in your service for Christ. It is easier to gain confidence in God working through you when you are functioning in the areas of your gifting. This confidence then tends to spill over into other areas of your Christian life. Notice the connection in this passage between overcoming timidity and using one’s gift:
“And for this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which was given to you by the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” – 2 Timothy 1:6,7
5. It frees you from comparing yourself to others in the area of ministry ability. The more you discover and develop the unique contribution that you have, the easier it is to accept yourself and be grateful for the contribution of others.
6. It increases healthy interdependence within the Body of Christ thus minimizing carnal competition. The more you exercise your gift, the more you will appreciate the genius of God’s design for the body of Christ: everyone has an important contribution to make. As a result you will be more likely to seek out and receive the contribution that others have been gifted to make.
Uniformity In the midst of diversity
God has given us unique roles, but also calls on our regular, consistent, and committed efforts in certain areas regardless of our gifting. One of the greatest dangers of pursuing our gifting or burdens for ministry is having too narrow of a ministry focus. Christians engage in diverse ministries because they are gifted in many different ways, but they also share areas of ministry uniformity – types of service that all Christians should pursue.
Areas of ministry uniformity include:
1. Loving another in the context of Christian community – Jesus’ command to love one another is recorded in John 13:34,35 and unpacked in the rest of the New Testament (see examples in Romans 12:10,15; 15:7; Galatians 6:2; Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:14; Hebrews 10:24,25; James 5:16). Loving one another is the central ethic in the New Testament and something everyone, regardless of their gifting, should pursue.
“If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I knew all the mysteries of the future and knew everything about everything, but didn’t love others, what good would I be? And if I had the gift of faith so that I could speak to a mountain and make it move, without love I would be no good to anybody.” – 1 Corinthians 13:2
2. Intercessory prayer (praying for one another) – Colossians 4:2; Ephesians 6:18
3. Evangelism – 1 Peter 2:9; 1 Peter 3:15; Colossians 3:17-4:1; 1 Peter 2:12-3:7; Titus 2:7-3:8; 1 Timothy 6:1,2.
4. Discipleship – Matthew 28:19; 2 Timothy 2:2
5. Missions - Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; Philippians 1:5
6. Financial giving – Luke 12:33,34; Galatians 6:6; Ephesians 4:28; 1 Corinthians 9:14; 1 Timothy 5:17,18. As stewards of God’s money and material possessions, we are all responsible to use these things to advance his kingdom, as well as your own needs.
Some Christians prefer to limit their ministry to areas where they feel they are gifted and they ignore these areas of ministry. When they do that, they ignore types of service God has called on everyone to pursue. If people in a home church don’t embrace these shared areas of ministry, the group becomes ingrown, weak in outreach, weak in true Christian relationships, and weak in their total impact for God.
It would be disastrous to the spiritual health of a Christian or a group to view any of these areas as options. We need to remain involved in each area of ministry uniformity regardless of our ministry focus. That means engaging in these ministries even if we don’t feel an aptitude for them.
Principles and guidelines for discovering your spiritual gifts
As important as the area of spiritual gifts is for the Christian life, it is striking that there are no specific scriptural instructions on steps to take to discover your areas of gifting. In passages that speak of spiritual gifts, the assumption is that the authors' audiences already knew where they were gifted (for example, Romans 12:6a). If there were a method, God would have preserved it for us in scripture. Instead, God emphasizes certain principles that we employ as we serve others in the body of Christ.
1. Ask God to reveal your gifts.
Remember that God has decided which gifts to give you (1 Cor. 12:7,11). Affirm that he has gifted you for a unique and significant role (Luke 11:11-13), and submit in advance to whatever role he has chosen for you. Then ask him to reveal your role to you as you step out in faith to find it (James 1:5).
2. Become a servant in your home church.
God gives individuals gifts to empower them to serve others:
“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.” – Ephesians 4:11,12
If you’re not wiling to serve, why should God show you your gifts? We should first seek to imitate how Jesus prioritized serving others.
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:45
“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 2:3-5
God laid his life down to meet our needs. He commands us to follow his example, by expending ourselves in the service of others within the framework of the Body of Christ. As we serve, our gifting will come to light.
As noted earlier, our first priority is to serve in the context of Christian community. You should prioritize developing a serving ministry in our home church before you branch out and serve in ministries across the church at large.
3. Take steps of faith to try new ministries.
As you become aware of specific needs, be willing to experiment and take risks even in areas that you do not think that you are likely to be gifted. When you take these “scary steps of faith,” you may be surprised at what you discover.
4. As you engage in home group ministry, keep asking these questions:
- What kind of ministry do you especially enjoy doing?
Philippians 2:13 says, "God is at work in you both to create the desire for and to give you the empowering for his good pleasure"--that is, for his unique purpose for your life. This promise encompasses God's ministry purpose for your life as well as his moral purpose (sanctification). Therefore, it is appropriate to ask yourself, "What areas of ministry are especially appealing to me?" "What would I like to do for the Lord if I could do anything for him?" Remember the variety of gifts that God has given. Resist the tendency to assume that you must be gifted like "so and so" in order to be significant, or that if you really would like to minister in a certain area, it must not be God's will.
- What kinds of needs regularly come to your attention? - Gifting often affects our perception of ministry needs. Ask God to open your eyes to the needs that exist around you.
- Does someone need a place to stay for a while?
- Would someone going through a divorce benefit from your comfort and advice?
- Have the meals been planned for the upcoming home church retreat?
- Are you aware of people in the group who are downcast that need to be encouraged?
- Are there certain kinds of needs that you tend to consistently see? If so, this may be an indication of your areas of gifting. Aptitude often affects our perception of a situation; we tend to be most aware of those needs that we are best suited to meet.
- What kind of ministry do you consistently feel empowered doing?
"I sensed God working through me!" Have you ever felt this or heard someone else say it? Using our gifts is allowing God to empower us to serve others. That is why, when Christians use their gifts, they often report an awareness of God’s power surging through them. If you’ve sensed this in a particular type of ministry, it may be because you’re gifted in that area.
- What do you seem to be effective in?
This is the surest indication of where you are gifted. Look for indication of effectiveness. What unsolicited feedback do you receive from others? When a pattern emerges of people telling you that God builds them up through you in a certain area, this is the most reliable indication that you are gifted there. As well, start looking at others from the perspective of how God has gifted them. Put some thought into how they might be gifted and let them know when you see them being effective with you or others. This creates an environment in your home group that is much more conducive to the discovery of gifts.
To help you reflect on these questions, we’ve provided a Spiritual Gifts Test. The results of this assessment will not be authoritative or conclusive. The purpose of the test is simply to stimulate your own reflection on how God has gifted you and how you can use your gifts to serve others.
Spiritual Gift Descriptions
This paper provides a brief description of the spiritual gifts mentioned or implied in the Bible. It is designed to help individuals recognize ways in which God has empowered them to build up the body of Christ. We have defined twenty-three gifts, but this is not an exhaustive list.
As you read through each gift description, reflect on where God may have gifted you. Have people in your Home Church been encouraging you in any of these areas? Do your strengths in ministry correlate well with a particular gift? You may also want to think about potential areas of gifting in the lives of your close Christian friends.
Speaking Gifts and Serving Gifts
The gifts described in this paper fall into two categories: speaking gifts and service gifts.
Speaking gifts require building a reputation of proven faithfulness. It is important to build relationships with integrity before you have a platform in which to express these gifts. It is not enough to say, “I have a gift of teaching so I want to teach.” We first need to establish a proven record of service. Some speaking gifts require a long maturing process and education before they can be fully expressed. Speaking gifts include evangelism, prophecy and teaching.
Service gifts often have a lower profile and less visible effect than speaking gifts. They are typically exercised in supporting roles that are more "behind the scenes." Sometimes people with service gifts think that what they do and where they’re gifted isn’t all that important. God thinks differently. Christians need to agree with Him about the vital importance of service gifting in the purpose of His church. Service gifts include helps, giving and mercy.
Distinctives and Cautions
The description of each gift in this paper will include distinctives and cautions. Distinctives are personality traits that may help you recognize a gift in yourself or someone else. Cautions are errant tendencies common in the lives of individuals who exercise a particular gift.
ADMINISTRATION: The spiritual capability to understand what makes an organization function, and the special ability to plan and execute procedures that increase the church’s organizational effectiveness. (1 Corinthians 12:28)
Distinctives: A person with this gift understands the practical steps that need to be taken in order to realize a given objective. Gifted administrators are committed to effectiveness and efficiency. They can look at a situation and bring order to chaos, keeping the overall picture in mind. Administrators are needed who can "steward" the resources of the local church. These resources include money, buildings, staff, and volunteers. Though a person with this gift is mostly behind the scenes, they enable the "up front" ministries and gifts to be more efficient and effective.
Cautions: If you have this gift, be careful that you don’t stifle the activity of the Holy Spirit in your own life. Good administrators are willing to make a course change if the leadership calls for a shift in plans. This requires a submissive spirit to leadership. There is a danger among administrative people to "use" others to reach a goal. Don't merely strive for the ends; appreciate what God wants to do through the means. Remember that all people are in a process.
APOSTLESHIP: The spiritual capability to start churches and oversee their development. (1Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11)
Distinctives: Likened to modern day missionaries, a person with this gift has a heart to preach the gospel to people in a different cultural setting who haven’t heard the Gospel. They have a desire to go across cultures and may enjoy starting new churches. "Cross-cultural" work can include inner city or international ministries. The authority of the apostle is based on the Word and the body of believers that sends them out.
Cautions: You may desire to cut a new path before you are ready to move away from your present ministry efforts. Make certain that there are appropriate provisions for the people that God has entrusted you in your present ministry.
COUNSELING: The spiritual capability to effectively listen to people and assist them in their quest for psychological and relational wholeness. - Though counseling is not mentioned as a gift in the Bible, there are examples of this skill in Christ’s ministry as well as clear teachings on the importance of the correct application of wisdom to our life situations (Proverbs). Biblical authors never indicate that the lists of gifts they provide are exhaustive. There are likely many more gifts than those named.
Distinctives: People with this gift have excellent listening skills. They tend to be very approachable while maintaining the ability to convey difficult truths in a loving way. They empathize, but also offer constructive advice, devising a plan of action toward wholeness and holding others accountable to take needed steps to that end.
Cautions: Distinguish between having a gift and having a burden in this area. Some have a real heart for hurting people, and desire to help them through their pain. But those who have a passion to help may or may not be gifted counselors. People who have undergone counseling often develop skills in this area, but this is not the same as being a gifted counselor.
Inexperienced counselors often offer quick, trite answers to difficult problems. It is also common to read our own experiences into someone else's life. Make every effort to ensure it is God's wisdom you are providing, not your own opinion. Counselors should also keep the final objective in mind: helping people enjoy a healthy walk with the Lord and serve others in love.
CRAFTSMANSHIP: The spiritual capability to enhance ministry through the creative construction of necessary tools for ministry. (Exodus 31)
Distinctives: A person with this gift is a hands-on person. He or she may be a builder, architect, designer; someone who enhances ministry by his other unique skills. The gift can be expressed in carpentry, metalworking, and other constructive skills.
Cautions: If you have this gift, don't belittle your contribution as insignificant or not spiritual because it's so tangible. Don’t separate your opportunities to personally minister to people from the ministry project that you’re working on.
CREATIVE COMMUNICATION: The spiritual capability to communicate God’s truth through a variety of art forms. (The Holy Spirit’s expression is in various forms in the Bible – poetry, song, narrative, parable, metaphor, etc.)
Distinctives: A person with this gift is very creative and imaginative. This person is able to communicate truths in unique ways from a variety of angles. They tend to be visual thinkers. Areas of ministry include programming, sound, lighting, video, drama, music, etc. Public announcements of events may be an application, with the ability to design attractive and catchy flyers to attract more people to events.
Cautions: Be careful not to be artsy for art’s sake. Use your gift to promote God and his kingdom, not yourself. Creative communicators stray when they try to create and do things that enamor people with the art form and the artist rather than the message.
Creative communicators need to be flexible and willing to submit to the wishes of the people around them. Sometimes they aren’t team players. This is an area that God will address. The fact that you have visible talents where others don’t does not mean you should have full say in music, drama, or other artistic areas.
DISCERNMENT: The spiritual capability to distinguish between truth and error, and to identify deception in character and in relationships. (1 Corinthians 12:10, "distinguishing between spirits.")
Distinctives: Discernment is a keen sense of insight that enables someone to recognize potential or actual problems in relationships, imbalance in teachings, the presence of demonic activity, or misuse of scripture. Discernment must be based on knowing Biblical truth. Once this person knows the truth, they can clearly pick out problems or important steps that need to be taken.
Cautions: Many of us have known people that are very discerning and perhaps gifted, but what they do with that discernment is far from God’s will. They have great insight, but then take on the role of the Holy Spirit to expose and correct problems in the other person’s life on their own time schedule. If you have this gift, learn to use it skillfully by seeking help from others who are gifted in wisdom, counseling, and shepherding.
ENCOURAGEMENT: The spiritual capability to reassure, strengthen, and affirm those who are discouraged or wavering in their faith. (Romans 12: 8)
Distinctives: A person with this gift urges others to apply the truth in their lives; it is not just a gift of friendliness and back-slapping. This person is able to get alongside wavering or discouraged people and effectively challenge them to be all they can be spiritually. When you are around these people, you feel like keeping on track and continuing to fight the good fight.
This person tends to be very positive, full of faith, reassuring to the unstable. They also tend to be results-oriented, concerned with consistency of practice with profession, very practical and pragmatic (“What works?”). They tend to be expressive and are often viewed as an "emoter" by other people. Encouragers understand the importance of emotions, but are concerned with knowing and doing God’s will as well.
Cautions: If you have this gift, you may tend to make things too simple. For example, when someone is hurting, quoting Romans 8:28 ("and we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose") is not always helpful. This is a great truth but encouragement in a person's walk at that moment may not be what's needed. The individual may simply need your company.
Your optimism can make others feel as if you haven’t really connected; it makes them wonder if you really understand. Take time to learn about what they’re going through before helping to build them up.
EVANGELISM: The spiritual capability to effectively communicate the message of Christ to non-Christians so they can respond in faith and move toward discipleship. (Ephesians 4:11)
Distinctives: A person with this gift has a strong desire to turn conversations to spiritual matters and has an instinctive ability to do this. The evangelist's desire to share the Gospel with non-believers is often greater than being involved with the grounding and discipleship of believers.
All Christians are called to witness to non-believers (1 Peter 3:15). The non-gifted "witnesser" will probably see fewer results and be less “at home” sharing the Gospel than a gifted evangelist.
Cautions: Avoid stereotypes (as with all the gifts) as to the environment or ministry in which this would be used. Most people won’t be knocking on doors or using cold-medium evangelism. Don’t be satisfied with just one approach. Be willing to read about evangelism and talk with other Christians about their approach so that God can develop your gift, using it in a variety of ways. Be careful that a critical spirit doesn’t emerge because other believers aren’t speaking to three to five people per week – that is gift projection. You can be hard on others when you don’t see them expressing themselves with the same intensity in the areas that you’ve been gifted.
FAITH: The spiritual capability to trust God’s will and act on it with unwavering belief in His ability. (1 Corinthians 12:9)
Distinctives: This gift is often expressed in a strong prayer life. A person with this gift lives in constant awareness of the reality of the supernatural as well as the natural. This person is certain that God will bring to pass what He promises and is therefore reliable during trials. He or she can also help others see God working in trials.
Cautions: Remember that faith is active. It isn’t only God’s work; we must be willing to obey His commands. God works through people in reaching the lost and in helping Christians grow. If you have this gift, you might look and critique your group, asking, “Why doesn't our group have the vitality I read about in Acts 2? Is it because the Spirit is different or absent?” Recognize that God is at work in all churches and that human action does matter.
GIVING: The spiritual capability to contribute money and material resources to the work of the Lord with cheerfulness and liberality. (Romans 12:8)
Distinctives: God has given the person with this gift the ability to give well beyond normal levels, either through wealth or faith. God has often blessed this person with financial ability through increased income or other means in order to build up the Kingdom of God. Serving others this way causes a sense of joy, a sense of confidence in leadership and a desire to encourage that ministry in others and do it with liberality. All Christians are called to give, but some are compelled to give much more. The gifted giver is often asking, “How can I free up the most amount of resources to maximize their potential for kingdom use?” Often gifted givers try to help others to see success in their own financial stewardship.
Cautions: If you have this gift, you might not see it as a spiritual ministry. Since all Christians are called to give, you may believe that you’re only doing a perfunctory, mandated service. Or you may think that giving money is too tangible to be a spiritual gift. Realize that financial resources are necessary in ministry to bring the lost to Christ. Be careful that you don’t inadvertently use resources for “personal agenda” giving within the church. Allow the leadership to dispense those resources as it sees fit. Be a generous giver and stimulate others to give.
HEALING: The spiritual capability to be God’s channel to restore people to health. (1 Corinthians 12:9)
Distinctives: There are many kinds of healing in the body of Christ. A person with this gift is an avenue of God’s power for physical healing, emotional healing, or relational healing. They often see God’s power released through personal prayer. Healing can include the use of “natural” means. Christian hospitals in missions may be in view here.
Cautions: Keep this amazing gift in perspective. Although God does miraculously heal, this is not His normative way of working through the church. The Bible is clear that God's primary way of working is through process, such as through His redemptive plan and in personal sanctification. To expect that miraculous healing be normative in the church or that the church should be focused on this ministry is contrary to God’s purpose for the church as expressed in His word to us.
HELPS: The spiritual ability to attach spiritual value to the accomplishment of practical and necessary tasks which support the body of Christ. (Romans 12:7; 1Corinthians 12:28)
Distinctives: A person with this gift sees the spiritual value of and finds God’s purposes in the practical aspects of ministry and living. Someone with this gift might help to maintain a facility or assist a teacher with some household task to free him or her up for study.
The gift of helps is a tangible expression of what the non-believing world rejects – helping others for the sheer satisfaction of helping. A person with this gift edifies the body of Christ by supporting others in their pursuit of ministry. Like our Helper, the Holy Spirit, gifted helpers derive enjoyment out of serving others.
Cautions: If you have this gift, you may often need help from the leadership to see clearly what will be most supportive for the church. You may also struggle with false humility. Because the effects are less dramatic and tangible, the tendency is to undermine the spiritual significance of your gift. The challenge is to think through your acts of service beyond their functional end. (For example, an individual helping clean walls and painting in a home to get ready for Home Church.)
HOSPITALITY: The spiritual capability to personally care for people by providing fellowship, food, or shelter. (1 Peter 4:9)
Distinctives: A person with this gift enjoys providing a caring, warm atmosphere for those whom God is calling to the church. They have an ability to connect with people; they provide environments where people feel welcome. This person tends to gravitate toward those who are standing off to the side, looking confused. A good host loves to have people to their home and is more pre-occupied with the comfort of others than the image of their home. This gift is especially needed in a large church. One of the more frequent questions asked by newer people is, “Can a church this size care for me personally?”
People with the gift of hospitality can have an incredible impact on children. As someone with this gift opens up their house for others, their children see the value of fellowship and using material blessings as a stewardship for the Lord’s work. Of course this doesn’t mean that they never get time alone with their family at home.
Cautions: If you have this gift, the challenge is to serve without complaint. Struggles with materialism can suppress the expression of this gift. It can be difficult and tiresome at times. Regularly reflect on the contribution you are making to the work of Christ.
INTERPRETATION: The spiritual capability to make known to the body the message of one who is speaking in tongues. (1 Corinthians 12:10)
Distinctives: A person with this gift can communicate clearly and effectively. It is an ability that is given spontaneously by the Holy Spirit and therefore, unlike most of the other gifts, it cannot be developed in the traditional sense. Tongues is a gift given by God primarily for self-edification (1 Corinthians 14:4). This gift allows others to be edified as well by interpreting what was said.
Cautions: Follow the rules stated in 1 Corinthians 14.
KNOWLEDGE: The divine empowerment to accumulate and analyze information effectively. (1 Corinthians 12:8)
Distinctives: A person with this gift enjoys studying, doing research, and digging for nuggets of truth. They like to assess and accumulate information, facts, and data. They are great helpers for teachers and Word-oriented programs. “Word of Knowledge” indicates that they can communicate that truth as well, even if not through a teaching or prophetic gift.
Cautions: If you have this gift, watch for a tendency to be reclusive. You will have to balance time alone studying with pursuit of close relationships.
LEADERSHIP: The spiritual capability to instill vision, to motivate, and to direct people to accomplish the work of the ministry. (Romans 12:8)
Distinctives: A person with this gift is a "goal setter" in the church. They often sense the direction in which God wants to move the body of Christ. They can then motivate people to move in that direction. Gifted leaders think about and communicate the potential they see in other people. This gift is needed in any effective ministry.
Cautions: Realize that good relationships give leaders credibility. People need to have the sense that you have their best interest at heart, that you walk with God and that the vision you have is not of your own concoction. This gift will be proven over time; there needs to be proven faithfulness here. Leaders need the ability to keep moving in the face of put-downs and doubt. Because this is a very visible gift with lots of feedback being given, you'll have to be keenly aware of your motivations for service. You will be tested in this area through success as well as failure. God will want to help you become consistent and diligent in either situation, relying on Him. There may be a strong tendency to draw people to you rather than to God. Remember that all have a sphere of influence and you can take a leadership position without this gift.
MERCY: The spiritual capability to minister cheerfully and appropriately to people who are suffering. (Romans 12:8)
Distinctives: A person with this gift enjoys serving alongside hurting people. They have a strong desire to remove the pain or discomfort in the lives of others while at the same time remaining strong in their own faith. If this gift isn’t exhibited in the body, we’re missing a key part of the heart of God.
This is different than compassion (a heart for hurting people). Mercy requires coming alongside people on a regular basis, feeling that pain and directing it toward godly action to alleviate that pain. They often work well alongside a prophet whom God has used to expose sin and pain in someone’s life. The person with mercy comes next to that person, empathizing deeply with the pain, but offering God’s solution for healing.
Cautions: If you have this gift, you probably have a strong emotional component to your relational skills. Often though, when your emotional skills are strong, it is less natural to offer direction and truth based on God’s word.
You may fail to recognize the benefits that difficult times can bring to a person’s life. For example, you may overlook how God is using a situation to bring about repentance or restitution. If you act too quickly you may short-circuit what God is trying to do.
Be careful you don’t become so overwhelmed with others' problems that you don’t take care of your own personal obligations.
MIRACLES: The spiritual capability to obtain exceptional interventions of God’s power that glorify Him and give evidence of His grace. (1 Corinthians 12:10,28)
Distinctives: This gift often accompanies the gift of apostleship (2 Corinthians 12) and evangelism. Miracles can accompany preaching of the message where there is a question about its truthfulness (Mark 2). They authenticate God’s message but do not cause faith.
Cautions: There is a great temptation to direct the amazement of the people towards you, rather than toward God who is doing the work. It’s a temptation for us to believe that we would take a step in faith if only we would see a miracle to affirm that God will fulfill his promises. This is not authentic faith.
PROPHECY: The spiritual capability to proclaim God’s truth with power and clarity in a timely and culturally sensitive fashion for correction, repentance, or edification. (Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians 12:10, 28; Ephesians 4:11)
Distinctives: A person with this gift has an amazing ability to understand biblical truth, to apply it to the events and nuances of culture, and to expose the culture in its deception. They may seem like they aren’t really compassionate – “they just say the truth and let the chips fall where they may.” When they are effective, others often feel uncomfortable because God convicts them through the person with this gift. They are discerning, expressive, desire time alone (to get clarity), opinionated, and authoritative. They often see and articulate what many are oblivious to, or see only dimly. Those with the gift of prophecy express themselves in many ways: speaking publicly, sharing in Home Church, or communicating one-on-one.
Cautions: Beware of lacking compassion. Your commitment to speak the truth may be so strong that you forget to say it with love (Ephesians 4:15, 1 Corinthians 13, Romans 12:9ff., 1 Peter 4:8). You can discourage people if you’re not careful. Nonetheless, remember that the purpose of your gift is to console, encourage, and exhort (1 Corinthians14:3), even if others may become uncomfortable. Also beware of pride and thinking you're the only one who sees things the way they really are.
SHEPHERDING: The spiritual capability to guide, care for, and nurture individuals or groups in the body of Christ as they grow in faith. (Ephesians 4:11)
Distinctives: A person with this gift provides oversight. They have a natural tendency to nurture people and give them direction. Shepherds are willing to provide the long-term care needed to help others work through issues in their lives. They like to spend time with people, feeding, protecting and disciplining in love. They gravitate towards building discipleship relationships. Gifted shepherds are a good balance for the gifted administrator or leader.
Cautions: If you have this gift, don’t use your oversight and concern to shield people from real-life experiences. Also, be careful to not view people as projects. Shepherds often have a clear vision for someone's growth. Don't impose your concerns and vision on someone else. Allow room for the Holy Spirit to convict and move them. The process remains between them and God. Remember that it is God that causes the growth; don’t take responsibility for their problems.
TEACHING: The spiritual capability to understand, clearly explain, and apply the Word of God to the lives of listeners. (Romans 12:7; 1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11)
Distinctives: Teachers have a real thirst for knowledge and have an insatiable desire to share that knowledge. A person with this gift can develop the ability to understand and fashion the message in a learner-oriented manner. They tend to be self-disciplined and prefer to teach groups rather than individuals.
Cautions: Teachers often study and learn much more than can actually be conveyed in a single teaching. The teaching itself must convey the most important truths and be practical. You may tend to be too profound or detail-oriented. Make certain that you keep the teaching focused enough for the audience to hear it and digest its application. It is also common for a teacher to struggle with pride because she or he often has more knowledge than others do. Be careful not to become upset with people who are not as excited about a truth as you are. Most importantly, make certain that you are as interested in people as you are in facts.
If you find out that this may be where you are gifted, realize that doesn’t qualify you to present at Central Teaching or even Home Church tomorrow. A teaching gift takes time to develop. Choose a ministry that you are interested in, get involved, and pray for opportunities for your gifting to be used.
Watch out for self-promotion. You may hear yourself think, “they ought to put me up to teach!” You may feel anger or resentment that you haven't been asked to teach yet or teach often enough.
TONGUES: The spiritual capability to express praise and worship to God in an unknown spiritual language. (1 Corinthians 12:10)
Distinctives: This is a spiritual ability to communicate directly between our spirit and God in a heavenly language. Unless they are also gifted in interpretation, tongue-speakers usually don’t know what they are saying. The gift of tongues, according to 1 Corinthians 14, is primarily for self-edification.
Cautions: If you have the gift of tongues, it might be tempting to believe that your gift deserves as much “air time” as some of the other gifts. This is not reflected in the passage on gifts in 1 Corinthians 12 -14. Gifts like prophecy, which are able to edify the rest of the church, are more emphasized in a group setting (2 Cor. 14:18,19). It is important to remember that not only are there a variety of gifts but also a variety of ministries in which they are used.
WISDOM: The spiritual capability to apply spiritual knowledge effectively. (1 Corinthians 12:8)
Distinctives: A person with this gift enjoys skillfully applying biblical knowledge to a variety of life situations. They seem to have more common sense than the average person.
Cautions: For God’s knowledge to go out, it must first come in. Don’t sit on your Bible knowledge as though you "have enough." This gift of wisdom has greater impact as your knowledge of God’s Word grows and as you become more involved in other people’s lives.
Spiritual Gifts Test
Respond to each of the Self Assessment Statements (see p. 25-29) based on who you are, not who you would like to be, or think you ought to be. Consider: How true are these statements for you? What has been your experience? To what degree do these statements reflect your tendencies?
Use the following scale to score your responses:
3 = Consistently, definitely true
2 = Most of the time, usually true
1 = Some of the time, once in a while
0 = Not at all, never
Write your responses in the squares below. The number of each statement corresponds to the number in each square.
Total the column of numbers above each letter. Write the total in the letter's box.
Circle the letters with the three highest column totals. Refer to the key provided and write the gifts associated with those letters in the spaces below. If there is a tie between third and fourth place, write the gift down that you think is more dominant or that you are more likely to have.
1. _______________________ 2. _______________________ 3. _______________________
- A = Administration
- B = Apostleship
- C = Craftsmanship
- D = Creative Communication
- E = Discernment
- F = Encouragement
- G = Evangelism
- H = Faith
- I = Giving
- J = Helps
- K = Hospitality
- L = Intercession
- M = Knowledge
- N = Leadership
- O = Mercy
- P = Prophecy
- Q = Shepherding
- R = Teaching
- S = Wisdom
Answer the questions on the back of this page.
Take some time to pray about the results of this test and ask God to help you better understand your gifting. Then answer the following questions. Write whatever comes to mind. Don’t be concerned with “whether” you can actually do it or “how” it can be done.
1. After prayerfully reflecting on the results above, what do you think your areas of gifting are?
2. How would you most like to serve others in your home church?
3. Finish this sentence: “I think the area where I could make the most significant contribution in our home church is…”
4. What practical ways could you begin to use what you’ve learned to serve others in your home church? Be specific!
Self Assessment Statements
- I like to organize people, tasks and events.
- I would like to start churches in places where they do not presently exist.
- I enjoy working creatively with wood, cloth, paints, metal, glass or other materials.
- I enjoy challenging people’s perspective of God by using various forms of art.
- I can readily distinguish between spiritual truth and error, good and evil.
- I tend to see the potential in people.
- I communicate the gospel to others with clarity and effectiveness.
- I find it natural and easy to trust God to answer my prayers.
- I give liberally and joyfully to people in financial need or to projects requiring support.
- I enjoy working behind the scenes to support the work of others.
- I view my home as a place to minister to people in need.
- I take prayer requests from others seriously and consistently pray for them.
- I am approached by people who want to know my perspective on a particular passage or biblical truth.
- I am able to motivate others to accomplish a goal.
- I empathize with hurting people and desire to help in their healing process.
- I can speak in a way that results in conviction and change in the lives of others.
- I enjoy spending time nurturing and caring for others.
- I am able to communicate God’s word effectively.
- I am often sought out by others for advice about spiritual or personal matters.
- I am careful, thorough, and skilled at managing details.
- I am attracted to the idea of serving in another country or ethnic community.
- I am skilled in working with different kinds of tools.
- I enjoy developing and using my artistic skills (art, drama, music, photography, etc).
- I frequently am able to judge a person’s character based on first impressions.
- I enjoy reassuring and strengthening those who are discouraged.
- I consistently look for opportunities to build relationships with non-Christians.
- I have confidence in God’s continuing provision and help, even in difficult times.
- I give more than a 10% of my gross income so that kingdom work can be accomplished.
- I enjoy doing routine tasks that support the ministry.
- I enjoy meeting new people and helping them to feel welcomed.
- I enjoy praying for long periods of time and receive leadings as to what God wants me to pray for.
- I receive information from the Spirit that I did not acquire through natural means.
- I am able to influence others to achieve a vision.
- I can patiently support those going through painful experiences as they try to stabilize their lives.
- I feel responsible to confront others with the truth.
- I have compassion for wandering believers and want to protect them.
- I can spend time in study knowing that presenting truth will make a difference in the lives of people.
- I can often find simple, practical solutions in the midst of conflict or confusion.
- I can clarify goals and develop strategies or plans to accomplish them.
- I am willing to take an active part in starting a new church.
- I enjoy making things for use in ministry.
- I help people understand themselves, their relationships, and God better through artistic expression.
- I can see through phoniness or deceit before it is evident to others.
- I give hope to others by directing them to the promises of God.
- I am effective at adapting the gospel message so that it connects with an individual’s felt need.
- I believe that God will help me to accomplish great things.
- I manage my money well in order to free more of it for giving.
- I willingly take on a variety of odd jobs around the church to meet the needs of others.
- I genuinely believe the Lord directs strangers to me who need to get connected with others.
- I am conscious of ministering to others when I pray.
- I am committed and schedule blocks of time for reading and studying scripture in order to understand biblical truth fully and accurately.
- I can adjust my leadership style to bring out the best in others.
- I enjoy helping people sometimes regarded as undeserving or beyond help.
- I boldly expose cultural trends, teachings, or events which contradict biblical principles.
- I like to provide guidance for the whole person – relationally, emotionally, spiritually, etc.
- I pay close attention to the words, phrases, and meaning of those who teach.
- I can easily select the most effective course of action from among several alternatives.
- I can identify and effectively use the resources needed to accomplish tasks.
- I can adapt well to different cultures and surroundings.
- I can visualize how something should be constructed before I build it.
- I like finding new and fresh ways of communicating God’s truth.
- I tend to see rightness or wrongness in situations.
- I reassure those who need to take courageous action in their faith, family or life.
- I invite unbelievers to accept Christ as their Savior.
- I trust God in circumstances where success cannot be guaranteed by human effort alone.
- I am challenged to limit my lifestyle in order to give away a higher percentage of my income.
- I see spiritual significance in doing practical tasks.
- I like to create a place where people do not feel that they are alone.
- I pray with confidence because I know that God works in response to prayer.
- I have insight or just know something to be true.
- I set goals and manage people and resources effectively to accomplish them.
- I have great compassion for hurting people.
- I see most actions as right or wrong, and feel the need to correct the wrong.
- I can faithfully provide long-term support and concern for others.
- I like to take a systematic approach to my study of the Bible.
- I can anticipate the likely consequences of an individual’s or a group’s action.
- I like to help organizations or groups become more efficient.
- I can relate to others in culturally sensitive ways.
- I honor God with my handcrafted gifts.
- I apply various artistic expressions to communicate God’s truth.
- I receive affirmation from others concerning the reliability of my insights or perceptions.
- I strengthen those who are wavering in their faith.
- I openly tell people that I am a Christian and want them to ask me about my faith.
- I am convinced of God’s daily presence and action in my life.
- I like knowing that my financial support makes a real difference in the lives and ministries of God’s people.
- I like to find small things that need to be done and often do them without being asked.
- I enjoy entertaining people and opening my home to others.
- When I hear about needy situations, I feel burdened to pray.
- I have suddenly known some things about others, but did not know how I knew them.
- I influence others to perform to the best of their capability.
- I can look beyond a person’s handicaps and problems to see a life that matters to God.
- I like people who are honest and will speak the truth.
- I enjoy giving guidance and practical support to a small group of people.
- I can communicate scripture in ways that motivate others to study and want to learn more.
- I give practical advice to help others through complicated situations.
- I enjoy learning about how organizations function.
- I enjoy pioneering new undertakings.
- I am good at and enjoy working with my hands.
- I am creative and imaginative.
- I can identify preaching, teaching or communication which is not true to the Bible.
- I like motivating others to take steps for spiritual growth.
- I openly and confidently tell others what Christ has done for me.
- I am regularly challenging others to trust God.
- I give generously due to my commitment to stewardship.
- I feel comfortable being a helper, assisting others to do their job more effectively.
- I do whatever I can to make people feel that they belong.
- I am honored when someone asks me to pray for them.
- I discover important biblical truths when reading or studying scripture which benefit others in the body of Christ.
- I am able to cast a vision that others want to be a part of.
- I enjoy bringing hope and joy to people living in difficult circumstances.
- I will speak God’s truth, even in places where it is unpopular or difficult for others to accept.
- I can gently restore wandering believers to faith and fellowship.
- I can present information and skills to others at a level that makes it easy for them to grasp and apply to their lives.
- I can apply scriptural truth that others regard as practical and helpful.
- I can visualize a coming event, anticipate potential problems, and develop back-up plans.
- I am able to orchestrate or oversee several church ministries.
- I am able to design and construct things that help the church.
- I regularly need to get alone to reflect and develop my imagination.
- I can sense when demonic forces are at work in a person or situation.
- I am able to challenge or rebuke others in order to foster spiritual growth.
- I seek opportunities to talk about spiritual matters with unbelievers.
- I can move forward in spite of opposition or lack of support when I sense God’s blessing on an undertaking.
- I believe I have been given an abundance of resources so that I may give more to the Lord’s work.
- I readily and happily use my natural or learned skills to help wherever needed.
- I can make people feel at ease even in unfamiliar surroundings.
- I often see specific results in direct response to my prayers.
- I confidently share my knowledge and insights with others.
- I figure out where we need to go and help others to get there.
- I enjoy doing practical things for others who are in need.
- I feel compelled to expose sin wherever I see it and to challenge people to repentance.
- I enjoy patiently but firmly nurturing others in their development as believers.
- I enjoy explaining things to people so that they can grow spiritually and personally.
- I have insights into how to solve problems that others do not see.