Real Questions: How can we encourage the growth of spiritual gifts in our MC?
Missional Communities are a great space to encourage and enable people to step out in using spiritual gifts. Often a church (celebration) space is bigger and much more daunting. It is also usually led from the front and has people who are seen as the leaders who use those gifts.
Interestingly some of the New Testament passages that talk about spiritual gifts (e.g. 1 Corinthians 12-14) seem to envisage a community size gathering rather than celebration.
So how can we encourage people to use their gifts?
1. See your Missional Community as an important training ground for the development of Spiritual gifts
This may need to be a conscious mind shift to see your missional community as the place where spiritual gifts are exercised. It is important to see your missional community as a place where spiritual gifts are encouraged and expected.
2. Use the gifts that you have and talk about them
Imitation is such an important part of the discipling that goes on within your community. So make sure that you demonstrably use the gifts that you have so people can see them in action in a positive way. People will still need information too so it’s important that you talk about what gifts you have and how you have leant to use them.
3. Encourage people to have a go
We all need encouragement. Within your community encourage the fledging prophet to try, or the fledging teacher to speak. Start small, and encourage people to have a go. Be their champion and protector.
We host a weekly worship and prophecy time in our home each week where people can practice listening to God and speaking that out. We aim to create a safe place where having a go is encouraged and celebrated.
4. Teach the key Biblical principles
It is important that people see from the Scriptures the truths about spiritual gifts including
(1) They are good gifts that the Spirit gives to us
(2) the primary purpose of the gifts is encouragement and exhortation
(3) We all have gifts we are called to exercise.
Every context is different but we have inherited in some areas of the church a mistrust of or misunderstanding around the use of gifts. We need to be sensitive to this. We meet many people who have been hurt in the past by the graceless way that gifts have been used.
5. Pray for the people in your community and ask God what gifts they have
I know this seems obvious, but in our experience spending time seeking God for people in our missional community makes a real difference.
6. Help people to discover their gifts
There are a number of gift surveys that are available so I am sure that you will be able to find one that works well for you. Alternatively as the community grows together, other’s in the group will often be able to identify in others the gifts that they have even if they can’t see it themselves. Put a list of the gifts up and ask people to identify others that they see with that gift.
Simon & Ceri Harris
Simon is the senior minister of Burlington, a Baptist church in Ipswich. Together with Ceri they have been involved in leading the church for over 20 years. Burlington began launching missional communities three years ago. Living in the town with their four children, they love a full house with their missional family and getting away from it all with a long run. Ceri is a qualified Life Purpose Coach and leads a Prophetic Huddle with 3DM Europe.