March 23 - 29

SDA Sabbath School Lessons

#13 Using Your Spiritual
Gifts in Your Church

Read for this  
week's study:

Gal. 5:22, 23; 1 Cor. 12:7; John 13:34; Rom. 14:13,19; Gal. 5:13,14.

Memory Text: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law" (Galatians 5:22, 23, NIV).

Key Thought: Each member and each congregation have a combination of gifts that determine the ministries a congregation can efficiently carry out.  The organization of a congregation should take into account its mixture of gifts.

The Lessons:

The Discussion:
We invite youi to join the  SSNET moderated email discussion group. You are also warmly invited to join a group discussion of this lesson Sabbath morning (usually 9:30 AM) with your SSNETlocal Seventh-Day Adventist congregation.

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Sabbath -
 March 22 


Seventh-day Adventist churches are usually organized around officers (elders, deacons, deaconesses, clerks, and treasurers) and departments (Sabbath School, Adventist Youth, etc.).  Usually the annual nominating committee fills the list of positions given in the Church Manual.

According to the Church Manual, the nominating committee has a twofold purpose: (1) to give careful study to the needs of the church and (2) to make careful inquiry into the fitness of members to serve.

Often "fitness to serve" is overlooked or ignored by nominating committees.  Too often, "fitness to serve" is restricted to a person's availability, seniority, or social standing.  "Fitness to serve" means that the nominating committee must decide regarding an individual's spiritual maturity.  The committee must assure the church that a nominee's life shows no visible signs of unbecoming conduct.  "Fitness to serve" should include the identifiable spiritual giftedness of those appointed.

Sunday -
 March 23

ONE ANOTHER (John 13:34).

The Greek word translated "one another" is used 76 times in the New Testament.  The uses of this word give a picture of what could be called the corporate Christian personality of a local church.

Look up the following texts. Each represents a "one another" statement in the category on the chart.
Category Texts Comments
  Interrelationships   John 13:34   
  Negative commands   Rom. 14:13   
  Mutual edification   Rom. 14:19   
  Mutual service   Gal. 5:13, 14   

These categories represent an interdependent ministry in which members develop Christian characters and personalities for the benefit of all (Gal. 5:22).  This ministry includes the use of spiritual gifts.

Notice how spiritual gifts are related to the overall corporate personality and function of a church congregation (1 Cor. 12:7; 13).  Notice also how reciprocal living and spiritual gifts complement each other:

Spiritual Gift Corporate Personality
  Teaching   "Teach ... one another" (Col. 3:16, NIV).
  Exhortation/ encouragement   "Encourage one another" (1 Thess. 5:11, NIV).
  Faith   "Pray for each other" (James 5:16, NIV).
  Prophecy   "Mutual edification" (Rom. 14:19, NIV).
  Helping   "Serve one another in love" (Gal. 5:13, 14, NIV).

"One another" commands in the Bible:  Without giving all the references, we can list some of these commands.  Inspired writers urge us to love one another, receive one another, greet one another, care for one another, be patient with one another, make things right with one another, and forgive one another.  What unity would prevail in the church if these injunctions were followed!  There would be no cruel judging of other people's characters.  There would be no unkind criticism or envy of others.  There would be mutual respect between races, sexes, social and economic classes.  In fact, the church would be a foretaste of heaven.  "The characteristics most needful to be cherished by God's commandment-keeping people are patience and long-suffering, peace and love" - Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 398.

Monday -
 March 24


Once individual members identify their gifts and ministries, a church congregation can categorize its primary and secondary combinations of gifts by ranking the gifts of the members.   A church can then develop programs and projects that utilize the giftedness of its members.

This corporate giftedness may change as members come and go.  An annual evaluation of giftedness as part of the nominating committee process will indicate the changes that have taken place.   Once a congregation has been surveyed for spiritual giftedness, all you need is a yearly update of new and/or formerly nonparticipating members to keep your corporate-giftedness information up to date.

Are there any combinations of gifts that are essential for the efficient functioning of the church?

There are four sets of gifts that are always needed and will, almost always, appear in the church.   If one of these sets of gifts is missing, the church must pray earnestly that the Lord will provide it, either by calling someone within the church, or sending someone with that gift to the church.

Set one: gifts of evangelism
Set two: gifts of leadership and administration
Set three: gifts of pastoring and hospitality
Set four: gifts of teaching

Tasks and spiritual gifts.  When Paul outlined a philosophy of ministry built around spiritual gifts, there were no church buildings to maintain, no zoning laws with which to struggle, no building codes or fire inspections, no denominational organizations, no income tax laws or medical plans, no monthly treasurer's reports.  There were few of the multitudinous church tasks that keep congregations busy today.  Spiritual gifts were focused on ministry, primarily church planting and growth.

Sometimes a person may have a mixture of gifts that includes secondary gifts that fit certain church tasks but do not form part of that person's primary ministry choice.  The Lord will amplify these secondary gifts for the good of the kingdom and confirm and bless abundantly the person's ministry.   But this should be a temporary situation until someone with a more appropriate mixture of gifts appears on the scene.  A Christian spirit enables an individual to accept the fact that others are more qualified by their gifts to perform certain functions.  Humility bows to the Lord's leading.

Tuesday -
 March 25


Today's lesson outlines a way of organizing your church personnel and program using spiritual gifts.

The system described in this lesson is built around four sets of general frameworks for ministry:

  1. the soul-winning mandate of the great commission (Matt. 28:16-20).
  2. the administration of the church itself.
  3. the needs of the congregation.
  4. the needs of the community served by the church.

Because any or all of these may change periodically, the system is never static.   Because the system is needs based and administered through spiritual giftedness, it is always active and sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit.  A system of this type cannot become static unless it is forced into an artificial mold.

Stage 1:  Form a Prayer and Planning Commission.  This commission will seek, through prayer, the will and blessing of the Lord in discovering and meeting the needs of the church and the community.   The Lord will reveal the spiritual gifts of the members and the plan for ministries that will employ those gifts for the church and the community.

Stage 2:  The Prayer and Planning Commission is divided into three task forces.  Each task force has a specific job description and a time line within which to work.  Once the task forces have finished compiling their information, the Prayer and Planning Commission will present a report to the nominating committee.

Task force 1:  The needs of the church.  This task force will use a questionnaire to survey the congregation regarding the needs of the church itself.

Task force 2:  Spiritual gifts of the community.  This task force will survey the community and update demographic data.

Task force 3:  Spiritual gifts of the church.  This task force will update information on the spiritual giftedness of the congregation.

How could this system be implemented in your church?  Discuss this in your class.

Wednesday -
  March 26


Read the following story, and fill in the blanks at the end.  Discuss the story and your answers with your class.  See Friday's lesson for answers.

A small group of about 15 people from the same church meets together once a week.  The group shares needs, experiences, and concems.  They have a good relationship, and the meetings are productive and helpful.  They spend time in Bible study and prayer.  Here is a sample of the conversations that take place:

Mary:  "Pete, when you explain things as you did about those puzzling verses, I really see what they mean and what God is saying.  I like the way you related those verses to the whole book we were studying."

John:  "Mary, that was a beautiful experience you shared.   I don't see how you can work in that soup kitchen in the inner-city area and love those people the way you do.  But I admire you and can see how the Lord works through you."

Pete:  "John, when you shared how God met your needs through that passage in 2 Corinthians, I can't tell you how encouraging it was to me.  I'm experiencing a problem like that, and God used you to help me face it."

Martha: "I believe God wants the kind of warrn, vital fellowship we have to spread through our whole church.  I have a growing conviction that God is going to do some spectacular things in our church.  I have this deep conviction that a year from now this church is really going to take off.  I can just see how John 17 will be a reality in our church."

Jerry:  "I made another friend at work this week.  I shared my experience with him, and he wants to take Bible studies.  Just think, it might not be long before he joins us in this group, and maybe the church.  I can hardly wait!"

If these conversations are typical, you can probably assume that

Mary has the gift of  ____________________________________

John has the gift of  ____________________________________

Pete has the gift of  ____________________________________

Martha has the gift of  ____________________________________

Jerry has the gift of   ____________________________________

Can you relate experiences in which you have become aware of people’s spiritual gifts?  How can your church help individuals use their gifts effectively?

Thursday -
 March 27


For an entire quarter now, we have been learning about spiritual gifts. How much have you learned? Take the following short test. Discuss your answers with the other members of your class. See Friday's lesson for the answers.

How much do you know about spiritual gifts?
1. T F Every Christian has at least one spiritual gift.
2. T F Unbelievers also have spiritual gifts.
3. T F Most Christians have all the gifts mentioned in the New Testament.
4. T F We are free to choose the gift we want.
5. T F There is one particular spiritual gift that all Christians have.
6. T F Believers will give an account to the Lord of the way in which they use their gift(s).
7. T F Spiritual gifts indicate God's call and purpose for a believer's life.
8. T F All the gifts are specifically listed in Scripture.
9. T F Gifts used without love can also accomplish God's intended purposes.
10. T F A non-Christian personality can nullify the effectiveness of spiritual gifts.

Match the gifts with the Scripture passages that describe them.  Put the number of the gift in front of the passage.  (See Friday's lesson for the answers.)

1. Evangelism 8. Interpretation 14. Giving
2. Healing   of tongues 15. Knowledge
3. Teaching 9. Miracles 16. Discernment
4. Exhortation 10. Helps 17. Not clear
5. Administration 11. Prophecy     which gift
6. Apostleship 12. Faith 18. Wisdom
7. Tongues 13. Mercy 19. Pastoring

  _____ a. Rom. 12:8   _____ e. Acts 18:26
  _____ b. Titus 3:2   _____ f. 1 John 4:1
  _____ c. 1 Cor. 14:3   _____ g. Acts 9:36
  _____ d. Acts 8:12   _____ h. Eph. 4:11

Friday -
  March 28


Answers to the case study in Wednesday's lesson:  Mary has the gift of mercy; John has the gift of exhortation or encouragement; Pete has the gift of teaching; Martha has the gift of faith; Jerry has the gift of evangelism.

Answers to the quiz in Thursday's lesson:  (1) T; (2) F; (3) F; (4) F; (5) F; (6) T; (7) T; (8) F; (9) F; (10) T.

Answers to the matching questions in Thursday's lesson:  (a) 14; (b) 5; (c) 11; (d) 1; (e) 3; (f) 16; (g) 13.

The following resource will be especially helpful for using spiritual gifts in your church:

Monte Sahlin, Velino Salazar, and James W. Zackrison, How To Set Up and Run an Evangelization/Discipleship Cycle in Your Church (available through the NAD Distribution Center in Lincoln, Nebraska).

  1. Is it proper, for you personally to take the initiative in informing your church leadership about what your spiritual gifts are and the ministry you would like to carry out?
  2. In your church nominating committee, how is information processed?
  3. Describe ways in which the spiritual-gifts concept can be applied in your church.

To the best of your ability, complete this personal commitment regarding your future ministry: "I plan to use my spiritual gifts effectively in the church by ...

SUMMARY:   Spiritual gifts are the tools the Holy Spirit provides believers to facilitate the work of the kingdom. We are all responsible to the Lord for how we employ those tools. The church progresses numerically and spiritually when spiritual gifts are exercised properly.

Inside Story

Just One Book

Luis Humberto Orjuela

While literature evangelists Luis Garcia and Roylan Lopez were canvassing in the East Venezuela town of San Fe1ix, they met a young teacher named Yuraima (Yu-RI-mah) Cabrera. Even though she was of another faith, she bought a large selection of books. When the men delivered the books, they gave her a copy of The Great Controversy.

The following week the two workers met Yuraima on the street. She told them, "I have read The Great Controversy. It had a great impact on me. I have been looking for you ever since." The book had convinced her of the Sabbath truth, and she wanted to know more about Seventh-day Adventists. The two men made arrangements to visit her that night.

After praying fervently, the men went to her home and studied with her for several hours. She was eager to learn how to keep the Sabbath. She told them that she had loaned the book to her sister Arelis, who was reading it. She urged the men to visit her, as well.

A few days later the men visited Arelis (Ah-RAY-lees) Cabrera and her daughter. The mother and daughter told them that they had visited many churches, trying to satisfy their spiritual needs, but had not found the right one. As the men studied with these two women, they gladly accepted the Sabbath truth and began attending the Adventist church.

A few weeks later the men visited Mrs. Cabrera's mother. The older woman told the colporteurs that for years she had been listening to the Voice of Hope (Voice of Prophecy) radio program and said that she would attend no other church than the one sponsoring that program. She was overjoyed when the men told her that they represented that church.

The chain of conversions continued. Yuraima introduced them to a friend who works in the University of Guyana who was reading The Great Controversy.

A few months after the men had first met the sisters, they were invited to a baptism--of Yuraima, Arelis, Arelis' daughter, and her friend. Today, Yuraima's son and two of her brothers have also joined the church, and another sister is receiving Bible studies. Only eternity will reveal the results of reading just one book.

Luis Humberto Orjuela is publishing director of the East Venezuela Mission.