Continuing from my last post…
Which gifts discovery tool should I use?
There are several effective tools available—that’s good news for those who like variety and bad news for those who have difficulty choosing! However, here are some things to consider as you are sifting through all those choices:
- Which gifts does your church/denomination recognize? Some churches recognize everything listed in the New Testament; some churches add a few more from the Old Testament. Some believe that the “sign gifts” died out with the Apostles, while others believe that all the gifts are in evidence today. Alignment is important to avoid confusion.
- Do you have a budget for this or do you want to pass the cost on to your members? Is this tool cost-prohibitive?
- Do you want to offer an online option?
- Are spiritual gifts the only thing you want to identify?
Having said all that, here are some tools for your consideration:
- Discovering Your Spiritual Gifts, by Kenneth Cain Kinghorn
- Discover Your Spiritual Gifts, by C. Peter Wagner
- Uniquely You in Christ, by Mels Carbonell
- S.H.A.P.E., by Eric Rees
- Network, by Bruce Bugbee and Don Cousins
- Spiritual Gift Assessment online tool, by Church Volunteer Central
Which tool is the best?
This is, of course, entirely subjective—but I prefer the S.H.A.P.E. approach, developed by the folks at Saddleback Church. S.H.A.P.E. is an acronym for Spiritual gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality, and Experiences. The beauty of this discovery tool is that anyone can use it, regardless of where they are in their spiritual journey. Even someone who has not yet made a profession of faith can participate (though the spiritual gifts section won’t apply). In my 15+ years of experience with spiritual gifts discovery, I find that many people are intimidated by the whole idea of spiritual gifts, but most everyone can identify something that they have a heart for, as well as abilities they were either born with or skills they’ve acquired. Everyone has personal preferences and life experiences—they may just need a little help identifying them!
I developed my own discovery workbook, which is a product of the research I’ve done over the years, and the experiences I’ve had leading others through the discovery process. You may want to consider doing the same. The advantage is that you will have a tool that reflects the culture of your congregation.
What do I do with the information I collect?
This is an absolutely critical point: you must act on the results of someone’s discovery process. It is imperative that you have ministries identified, ministry descriptions written, and some sort of process for connecting gifts with those ministries before you begin offering gifts discovery. To encourage someone to engage in a discovery process and not follow through is to invite discouragement and frustration. It is without a doubt the quickest way to unravel your equipping ministry!
So, whether you use a software program or old-school paper files, make sure that you follow up and follow through. If you’ve given someone a discovery tool to complete, review their results with them. Help them see where their unique design for ministry fits into the church and/or community, and then give them the opportunity to try it out. If it’s not a good fit, try something else. An equipping leader encourages and perseveres until a good match is found!
Remember… Gifts discovery without ministry placement is useless.