“Spiritual gifts,” Donna said. “Why do I always get nervous when we talk about spiritual gifts?”1
Dean cleared his throat.
“Well, it’s true,” Donna said. “Every time we start talking about spiritual gifts it ends up as a long meeting with even longer forms to fill out, and then we’re assigned to work on a church project using our spiritual gifts.”
“What’s wrong with that?”
“I don’t know. It just doesn’t fit. Seems so artificial.”
“Do you think the church invented spiritual gifts so we could start a major witnessing program?”
“The thought has crossed my mind.”
Dean aimed his fist at Donna in a pretend punch. “Donna,” he said, “spiritual gifts have been part of the church ever since there was a Christian church.”
“Maybe so.” Donna flicked a mosquito away. “But I don’t like to be pushed.”
“You will if you ask the Holy Spirit to do the pushing.”
[Thought Questions for Spiritual Gifts for Witnessing & Evangelism April 17, 2012]
1. Leading Thought. Do you ever feel a little bit like Donna in the above story—pushed to do what the church thinks you should do? Is that the purpose of the doctrine of spiritual gifts? Should we be thankful to the Lord for giving us spiritual gifts?
2. Unused gifts. Do you know someone in your local church who has a spiritual gift that as far as you can tell is never used? Could you write a job description for apostles? prophets? pastors? teachers? What about a description of what it takes to be an “edifier” of the church? (Ephesians 4:12) What tasks does a person do to be involved in “equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry”? Have you ever taken “vacations” from long-held leadership roles in your church? Or have you neglected an active pursuit to identify, strengthen, and use the talents and gifts God has given you? If you have, what are you doing to encourage others in the same path you have chosen?
3. Gifted believers. Did you notice that cheerful little woman at church Sabbath who put her arm around a sad little three-year-old and helped him find his mother? Or the organist who played a stirring piece for the postlude? And what about the soloist who sang from the heart about Jesus’ redeeming power? And that was just at church. Remember that gorgeous salad one of the members placed on the table for our fellowship dinner? That woman is talented. And how many smiles did you share with people in the rush of a business day? Aren’t you glad God gave you the gift of a happy spirit? How can you use that gift for Him?
4. Nominating committee. “Hi, This is Julie with the nominating committee.” Are you tempted to hang up? Break out in a horrible coughing spell? Tighten your determination to say “no” to whatever the nominating committee thinks you should do? Isn’t nominating committee season the time when the church meets the members and tries to match gifts with responsibilities? Is there ever a clear match? Are there positions you’d really like to fill that are always filled by others? If the nominating committee passes you by, does that mean there are no key responsibilities for you to fill? Should you focus on work for Jesus wherever you are that He has empowered you to do? Are those your gifts?
5. Discovery. Your lesson authors don’t seem to be that excited about using a form to discover your spiritual gifts, do they? Are you? The authors recommend a spiritual gifts seminar and mention it in two places on the same page. Have you ever attended a spiritual gifts seminar? If so, in what ways was that an effective way to discover your own spiritual gifts? What about life circumstances? Have you learned skills that you can use to be helpful to God’s church and your fellow members? Can those skills become spiritual gifts?
6. Sharing responsibility. What was the problem that led to delegating responsibility in the early Christian church? Have you noticed in your church that volunteer work involving providing food and clothing to those in need is considered to be enjoyable? Why is it “fun” to help others? Is your church organized to help neighbors in case of a disaster? Have you ever noticed that when the church faces a challenge, people’s responsibilities change? Have you ever known a lay member who was better at influencing the church than anyone else, even the pastor? Can this ever be beneficial?
7. In the church, of the church. Is it important to direct the activities generated by our spiritual gifts to the church itself? Why? or why not? What would happen at your church if everybody was fully enlisted in the ministry of Jesus in your local area? What if all members were totally engaged in supporting a churchwide project? What if a few members seemed to be faithful and well-behaved and in good physical health but didn’t volunteer for anything that needs to be done? How could you witness to such persons to get them interested in lending a helping hand?