Have you ever thought of your group as a laboratory? What if you used it to conduct an experiment? The anticipated outcome would be that group members would help one another discover their gifts and try them out. Here are a few guidelines:
Every person in your group has a gift and every gift is important for the health and mission of the group. This hypothesis has the truth of scripture to back it up! In verse 7 of 1 Corinthians 12—a key chapter on spiritual gifts—the apostle Paul writes that gifts are given to be beneficial (HCSB) to the group, that is, for the common good (NIV). The word is the Greek sympheron. A group is like a symphony orchestra. Everyone has a part and every part matters!
2. Early trial
Some find a spiritual gifts inventory helpful to begin the quest to discover the group’s gift mix. CLICK HERE to download a Spiritual Gifts Assessment for each member of your group. One church has taken the initiative to develop this into an online assessment, CLICK HERE to access the online version. This is simply a place to start. You cannot discover your gifts just by taking a survey!
Every group has a unique “mix” of gifts. Discovering that mix will help a group discern its unique mission. Therefore, it is important for members to help one another discover their gifts. In fact, it is more important than discovering your own gift! Catch someone doing something right! Then suggest that it might indicate their spiritual gift. Read Romans 12 for a description of what a gifted group might look like.
Your focus should not be on you! Make it your goal to learn what gifts God has entrusted to your group and what that means in terms of what God would have your group be and do. Take a look at Philippians 1 for a good passage to guide you.
Ephesians 4 provides the purpose of gifted people: the training, preparing, or equipping of the called out ones (saints). The Greek word is katartizō. Ten different words are used to translate it in the HCSB: equip, train, mend, restore, prepared, created, framed, complete, mature, united. These words describe the purpose of a group and imply a variety of gifts. Each is important. The group’s purpose is limited if even one is underemployed.
To some degree, every group becomes like its leader—and reflects its leader’s gifts. If a shepherd guides the group, it is more likely to sit in a circle and enjoy a conversation. If a person with the gift of teaching leads the group, it is more likely to be a group sitting in rows and hearing a presentation. A group with an exhorter as a facilitator will be strong on application. Which best describes your group?
In Colossians 1, we learn that the fullness of God dwelt in Christ and that He emptied Himself for our sakes. None of us has every gift. Together, our group may have several of them. Ultimately, our goal is to be a reflection of Jesus, emptying ourselves in sacrificial service. Jesus is the Alpha and Omega. Put the various gifts in alphabetical order. Only Jesus has them all. Individually, none of us do. In community, we have many. The more we empty our gifts in service to others, the more we reflect the fullness of Christ. The gift thing is a group thing!
Take your group through a deeper experience of learning about their gifts and how to use them with the group study, Spiritual Gifts: A Practical Guide to How God Works Through You.
You can find this study and other helpful tools on spiritual gifts at LifeWay.com/SpiritualGifts.
David Francis is LifeWay’s Director of Sunday School. His latest book is Countdown: Launching and Leading Transformational Groups. David has previously served as Minister of Education at First Baptist Church, Garland, Texas.