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Why do spiritual gifts matter?

Why do spiritual gifts matter?
Cynthia McChesney

In the last Stewardship Matters we shared information about the Spiritual Gifts Inventory Assessment, an exercise anyone can use to identify their special spiritual gifts. It's also a tool that a group can use, from a smaller group like a vestry to a whole congregation. Today, we'll share ideas about what to do next. How can you "match" the spiritually-gifted with appropriate parish ministries?

But first, what does this have to do with stewardship?

Well, if our definition of "stewardship" is limited to a 6 week campaign in the fall, then it might be puzzling. But stewardship is not the pledge campaign. Stewardship is taking care of all that God has given us.

If you've been to one of the recent Breaking Bread with the Bishop events, you know that Bishop Carlye shared this definition: Stewardship is 1) the position and duties of a steward, a person who acts as the surrogate of another or others, especially by managing property, financial affairs, an estate, etc., 2) the responsible overseeing and protection of something considered worth caring for and preserving.

It's our responsibility to take care of all that God has given us, and stewardship is the way we live this out in our lives. That goes for our financial and our spiritual gifts.

Still want another reason to support engaging parishioners in work that matches their spiritual gifts? Here's a financial one: Nonprofit research shows that engaged volunteers are more likely to be generous financial supporters than non-volunteers. Engaging parishioners is a vital step in strengthening your church's financial resources.

OK, back to matching parishioners with meaningful ministries.

Why not try a version of what we did at the recent Diocesan Convention? The Bishop's office set up poster boards around the room labelled with each gift, as defined in the Spiritual Gifts Inventory. One board was labeled Administration, and another Skilled Craft, another Faith, and another Evangelism all the way through the 20 listed spiritual gifts. After folks in the room had taken their Spiritual Gifts Assessment, they were encouraged to add their names to the boards matching their top gifts.

What happened? Before long, names were all over the gift boards. Some of the boards (Administration comes to mind), were so filled with names, people started to write on the back!

This same technique could be translated to an entire congregation or a smaller group like a vestry. You’ll want to start with introducing the Spiritual Gifts Inventory (available online here, or PDF here). You'll want a visual way for your people to share what they've learned about their gifts. You could make 20 labels with the gifts and tape them to the walls of your parish hall, or lay them out on long tables. Then encourage participants to bring the results of their personal Spiritual Gifts Inventory Assessment and write their names under the gifts that match theirs.

At the end of this exercise, you’ll have visual proof of the variety of gifts in your congregation or small group. You’ll also have a natural way to sort and organize names for volunteer opportunities that would be a good match. Don’t forget to take pictures to save the information! Then it shouldn’t take too long to create separate lists of targeted-by-skill potential volunteers.

OK, so then what? Then we’d suggest looking at ways to match people who have gifts in a certain area with the ministries that best suits their gifts. A few ideas…

  • Matching someone gifted in Hospitality with New Member/Welcoming Ministries. That’s who you want making a first impression!
  • Looking for new vestry members? There are people gifted with Administration and Leadership but don't forget Discernment and Faith.
  • A parishioner who scores high in Giving could be a natural for the Stewardship group (perhaps they would like to be a Stewardship speaker?). And how about a parishioner who scores high in Writing – they might really enjoy helping that team communicate stewardship stories.

This specialized skill mapping works for small churches as well as bigger ones, vestries and other small groups. Give it a try – you might be surprised at your congregation's hidden gifts – and let us know how it goes!

Cynthia McChesney

This article is from the March 29, 2019 issue of the Stewardship Matters e-newsletter. Click here to read the full issue.