While Christians throughout the globe are unified by one Spirit, that same Spirit has dished out a diversity of gifts to the church. If you are a Christian, you have at least one (1 Cor. 12:6).
The purpose of spiritual gifts is to build the body of Christ (numerically, relationally, and spiritually) and help the church mature (Eph. 4:12-13). For the church body to grow, each part needs to work properly (Eph. 4:16). These gifts are to be used until Christ returns, and are a sampling of the power that will be present when he does.
Here are some key characteristics of the spiritual gifts:
1) A spiritual gift is not solely a talent. It is specifically empowered by the Holy Spirit and used in the ministry of the church. Your spectacular ability to level up on Call of Duty is not a spiritual gift (although many hours spent playing the game may correlate to the gift of celibacy).
2) Gifts are permanent, but vary in strength. Gifts can and should be cultivated through repentance, practice, and education (2 Tim. 1:6). Some are related to specific instances - healing, celibacy - that depend on God’s will at the time.
3) Although spiritual gifts occur in “proportion to our faith” (Rom.12:6), they are not necessarily tied to maturity. The Corinthians had the same gifts as any other church yet were still wearing spiritual diapers (1 Cor. 3:1). Therefore, gifting should not be used to gauge a person's spiritual maturity.
4) Spiritual gifts are supernatural, but they are not always freaky. Don't think of spiritual gifts like they are the ability to shoot cross-shaped lightning bolts at demons. Some gifts may seem boring, but are still immensely powerful.
5) Some of the gifts are to be a rhythm of all Christian lives (e.g. service, encouragement, evangelism). But again, the general ability to do something does not necessarily mean it is a spiritual gift.
6) All gifts are important (1 Cor. 12:18-19), but some are “higher” (1 Cor. 12:31), meaning that they edify the body more. We are to desire these gifts and pray for them.
Lastly, what’s the most important thing when using your gift? Love (1 Cor. 13:1-3). (You were close if you said breakfast).
The spiritual gifts are listed in 5 main passages in the New Testament. Keep in mind that the writers did not intend to create an exhaustive list, but they do cover every area of Christian service:
1 Cor. 12:28
1 Cor. 12:8-10
1 Cor. 7:7
1 Pet. 4:11
word of wisdom
word of knowledge
distinguishing between spirits
interpretation of tongues
There is a lot of overlap in these lists, and a lot of gifts are related to one another (e.g. pastor and teacher). It is possible (and common) to be given multiple spiritual gifts.
Here is a brief definition and some characteristics of those who possess each respective gift, with some corresponding ministries at Living Stones to serve in:
Word of knowledge and wisdom (1 Cor. 12:8). This is most likely non-miraculous, and is simply speaking a word of knowledge or wisdom accumulated at some point during life. These people love study, learning, and giving timely insight. If this is you, you might be a community group leader, or even start by teaching in your community group. However, all ministries can benefit from these gifts.
Faith (1 Cor. 12:9). This is the assurance that God is love seemingly impossible situations. You are crucial for the during service prayer in the prayer room, but could serve everywhere, because we need more of this, especially during difficult times.
Healing (1 Cor. 12:9). This can be praying for physical healing where there isn’t adequate medical care available (James 5:15), but can also be expressed through a desire to help the sick and injured (think nurse). You might serve as a volunteer at retreats and on short-term missions trips.
Miracles (1 Cor. 12:9). This is any activity where God’s mighty power is evident, whether that be prayer for deliverance from danger or rebuking demons. Those with this gift love to pray for God to show up in power. This is a rare and sporadic gift, and no formal corresponding ministry at Living Stones exists, so you must be on call to use it.
Distinguishing between spirits (Discernment)(1 Cor. 12:10) This is the special ability to recognize the influence of the Holy Spirit or of demonic spirits in a person. (1 John 4:1) These people love truth & holiness. You might serve as a counselor, community group discipleship coordinator, deacon, or elder.
Apostles (1 Corinthians 12:28;Ephesians 4:11). This means "sent one," and is characterized by those who end up leading a movement. You might be a church planter or start a new ministry at a local church. You might also be your community groupmission coordinator.
Teaching (Rom. 12:7; 1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11) This is the ability to explain Scripture and apply it to people’s lives. These people love analyzing and explaining the Bible in a way in which people can understand. You might be a community group leader, serve in LS kids, and this is a requirement for all elders.
Helps and Service (Romans 12:7;1 Cor 12:28;1 Peter 4:11). These people love coming alongside those who lead, and these gifts take different forms depending on church context. For example, someone can serve through videography. This expression didn’t even exist 50 years ago, but the gift itself has been present since the beginning of the church. This gift is vital because you might serve wherever there is a need, and is also required of deacons.
Administration (1 Corinthians 12:28) These people love stewarding resources. Administration can take a variety of forms - from the detail-oriented spreadsheet fanatic to those who streamline systems and make things run smoothly. All ministries at Living Stones need those with administrative gifts, and you might serve well as a ministry leader or community group community, mission, or discipleship coordinator.
Evangelism (Ephesians 4:11) The ones who have this gift not only love seeing non-Christians become Christians, but desire to lead people to Christ. This gift can look vastly different from individual to individual. Billy Graham had the gift of evangelism and when he spoke stadiums of people got saved, while many others have the gift and use it through personal evangelism, which nets a lot fewer conversions. Both are equally necessary and important. You might serve as your Community Group's mission coordinator, a greeter, in LS Kids, and eventually as a community group leader, deacon, or elder.
Pastor (Ephesians 4:11) This gift is not necessarily tied to the office of elder, but is required of all elders. People who have this gift love caring for people & counseling. Community group leaders can express this gift, as well as ministry heads. The during service prayer room also needs this gift.
Encouragement (Romans 12:8) Those with this gift love motivating people. You might be a good greeter as well as pray for people in the prayer room during service.
Giving (Romans 12:8) Those with this gift love meeting physical needs and can be helpful in any ministry. This gift is not tied to the amount given as much as to the sacrifice of the giving. Even the broke can possess this gift.
Leadership (Romans 12:8) This gift is characterized by those who love mobilizing people for a cause, and is often coupled with other gifts (like teaching). It is best to identify what other gifts you have and then be a leader within the church, whether that's as a community group leader, ministry head, deacon, or elder.
Mercy (Romans 12:8) These people love to walk with hurting people and intercede for them in prayer. Serving in the prayer room is perfect for those with this gift.
Hospitality (Romans 12:13) Those who have this gift love to welcome strangers. You might be a great community group community coordinator. You might also serve in service reset, communion preparation, coffee, cooking, greeters, and ushers.
Tongues (1 Corinthians 12:8-10,12:29-30) – This is speech most often directed towards God (1 Cor. 14:2,28), which can be defined as “prayer or praise spoken in syllables not understood by the speaker.” However, this should be done in private if no one with the gift of interpretation is around (1 Cor. 14:27-28). These people love to pray privately and proclaim publicly, so the prayer room during gatherings would be a perfect fit.
Prophecy (Romans 12:6; 1 Cor 12:10; Eph 4:11) This is “telling something that God has spontaneously brought to mind.” These people love to preach/write God’s truth, so serving as a community group leader or elder is a good avenue to use this gift.
Also, we see this in the Old Testament:
Arts/Crafts (Ex. 31:2-5) God empowers people to "devise artistic designs" and "work in every craft." A natural place to serve is in Tech/Media, as well as on our visual arts team.
For a complete list of ministries to serve in (and sign up for) at Living Stones Churches, click here.
Are you still unsure as to where you can best serve the church? Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
1) What are your interests, desires, and abilities?
2) Have you prayed and asked God for wisdom? (James 1:5-6)
3) Have you prayed to God for a specific gift? (1 Cor. 14:13) You can’t give yourself a gift through hard work - the Spirit gives to each “as he wills” (1 Cor. 12:11).
4) Has anyone told you that you possess a specific gift? (1 Tim. 4:14)
Sometimes, trial and error is necessary. You may serve in one area before you find your gift and an accompanying ministry. However, don't let indecision stop you from serving the church.
Lastly, if you know your spiritual gifts are you using them for God’s glory or your own? If you're serving your own ego, heed these words from Pastor Harvey Turner:
"You have a gift for the church, but you are not God's gift to the church."