The Need to Know

I’ve spent the last two days revising the discovery tool I use when helping people figure why, how, and where they should serve. While I’m definitely ready to be done with this tedious task, I have to admit that it’s been a good review–not only of the content itself, but the reasons why I choose this particular approach to discovery.

When leading workshops and talking with ministry leaders about equipping, I’m often asked about gifts discovery. Why is gifts discovery important? How should I go about it? What tool should I use? Which tool is the best? What do I do with the information? What follows are my responses to those queries…

Why is gifts discovery important?

Ministry leaders can get pretty excited about gifts discovery; their parishioners even more so. The subject of spiritual gifts has an air of mystery around it; they are, after all, supernatural abilities. Henry and Mel Blackaby’s little book, What’s So Spiritual About Your Gift?, changed the way I look at spiritual gifts. Their point is well made: the real gift is the Holy Spirit himself. I still believe that identifying spiritual gifts is important in helping believers understand and recognize how God equips us for ministry. However, I now begin the gifts portion of discovery with a more deliberate conversation about first and foremost being satisfied with the Holy Spirit and then considering the gifts He gives.

Another important aspect of this discovery process is the experience of becoming more self-aware. I’m not a fan of navel-gazing, but I do think it’s entirely appropriate and necessary to periodically invite the Holy Spirit to lead us in times of prayerful introspection. Allowing the Spirit to reveal our unique design builds trust and confidence in God’s faithfulness to work good in and through our life circumstances. With the Spirit guiding the process, it’s OK for it to be “all about me!”

How should I go about it?

  • Some churches incorporate gifts discovery into their new member process. I would caution, however, that provision needs to be made for reaching those who are not new to the fellowship.
  • Another excellent method is to incorporate the discovery process into small groups and/or Sunday school classes. This kind of community-based exercise can be much more effective and exciting as members recognize and affirm gifts in each other.
  • A simple one-on-one conversation can yield helpful insights into a person’s gifting. It can also build a relationship of trust that might bear fruit down the road when you see a gift in that person that they don’t yet see in themselves.

The discovery process can be effectively used at any point in a believer’s journey of spiritual formation. The critical point is to use the information gleaned! There must be appropriate follow-up and follow-through. (More on that later.)

Time’s up for this post! I’ll share my thoughts on assessment tools in the next post. In the meantime, I’d love to hear why you believe gifts discovery is important… or why you don’t!