“Each person is given something to do that shows who God is.” 1 Cor 12:7
In his book Cure for the Common Life Max Lucado challenges each of us to live from our “sweet spot” – that place where your unique abilities, God’s leading, and the world’s needs overlap. But how do we discover the sweet spot in our lives? A spiritual gifts assessment is one way to begin to answer that question. A spiritual gifts assessment is formational in the spiritual lives of individuals and builds camaraderie and shared identity within a faith community.
There are many ways to engage a spiritual gifts assessment. Some faith communities choose to administer a comprehensive church-wide assessment followed by a series of small group studies to explore spiritual gifts in great detail. Others sponsor an evening event that gives participants a glimpse of their gifts. In any case, a spiritual gifts assessment activity is always fun, as people are genuinely excited to know they have particular abilities that are valued in the church and in the world.
John Wesley put a great emphasis on equipping and empowering laity. Knowledge of one’s gifts empowers individuals to discern how best to use their skills to serve the church. Gift awareness often surfaces a latent desire to deepen and polish a natural gift. And, it’s a helpful entry point for those who come to church for the first time as adults and welcome the guidance, encouragement, and confidence that follows from knowing their gifts as they begin to engage the spiritual journey.
Understanding their spiritual gifts can help church leaders to nurture their brothers and sisters in faith. An inventory
of spiritual gifts is also a useful tool for nominating committees, which can use this information as they seek to match a person’s gifts with the work of the church. A nomination process that makes use of gifts assessment can help a church to use its congregation’s time and talents wisely.
Finally, a spiritual gifts inventory assists a faith community in discerning how best to engage in ministry beyond the church. For example, having embarked on a comprehensive church-wide spiritual gifts assessment, one church realized that an unusually large number of its membership was gifted in miracles. A church with the gift of miracles truly embodies Matthew 19:26, “… with God all things are possible.” Recognizing that they were a miracle-affirming church gave this congregation the confidence to continue to push out beyond convention and take risks in ministry trusting in God’s providence.
A spiritual gifts assessment can be a superb tool for individual and corporate spiritual formation. Contact the New England Parish Consultants if you want to learn more about how this instrument can equip your church for Christian discipleship.
NE Parish Consultant Susan MacKenzie is a spiritual director, retreat leader, and educator who helps individuals and groups to be more intentional in their prayer practices and spiritual disciplines.