By Reid Smith
We tend to think about spiritual gifts on an individual level, but it can’t stop there! Small groups offer the best environments for discovering how the Lord has graced each member and they’re ideal outlets for believers to exercise their God-given gifts together. The biblical community that grows in small groups inspires Christ-followers to be faithful and bold in using what the Lord has deposited in them to advance His Kingdom.
A spiritual gift is a special enablement that God gives to each believer, according to His grace, to build up the Body of Christ (Rom 12:6–8). Spiritual gifts enable us to do things with greater spiritual effectiveness because we’re not operating by our strength alone. The Lord has called us and empowered us by the Holy Spirit to share our gifts by serving others.
God’s power flows to and through a group in life-changing ways when spiritual gifts are being used in concert together. As a small group leader, you want to be sensitive to the supernatural composition of your group so as you think about how to grow and serve together, begin by asking who is in your small group rather than what you should be doing. You can facilitate three conversations to help in this discovery process.
Conversation #1: Introducing and Identifying Spiritual Gifts
- Introduce spiritual gifts to your group and highlight how every believer has them. Refer to 1 Corinthians 12; Romans 12:1-8; Ephesians 4:7-16; 1 Peter 4:10-11.
- Have everyone complete an assessment and bring their results back to share with the group. Here’s a couple of examples: https://www.freeshapetest.com/ or https://gifts.churchgrowth.org/spiritual-gifts-survey/
- Invite your small group to affirm how they see the spiritual gifts evident in each person who shares.
- Draw a circle and segment it according to the number of your church’s purposes (or core values). Brainstorm where each of your regular group practices fit under the purposes represented.
- Talk about how the spiritual gifts represented in the lives of your group members relate to your…
- Church’s purposes
- Group’s practices
- Group fulfilling your church’s mission
Spiritual gifts help believers discover their unique capacity to serve God and effectively advance His purposes in the world. They also help small group leaders empower each group member to carry responsibilities for the group and turn its energy and focus outward, keeping it healthy.
Conversation #2: Building Well-rounded Group Life Together
These questions can be used for a conversation on how to leverage spiritual gifts to build community within your small group and strengthen its impact:
- How can each group member use their God-given gifts to strengthen and enrich the group (1 Cor 12:7)?
- Which practices are frequent and active in our small group (Bible study, sharing meals, prayer, etc.)?
- Which practices are infrequent or inactive that we need to somehow incorporate in our small group life (e.g. sharing the gospel in word and deed, etc.)?
- What is needed to continue developing the frequent group practices and to elevate the infrequent or dormant ones?
- How can each one invest their spiritual gifts in our larger church family and further what the Lord is already doing?
The goal is to empower each group member to connect their gifts to a group practice that will express your church’s purposes. Consequently, biblical community will grow and your group members will be empowered to live out your church’s mission together.
Conversation #3: Connecting Spiritual Gifts to Group Practices
One way you can empower your group members is to ask each one to champion an area of your small group life that’s in keeping with their gifts, you can approach this by…
- Creating a list with two columns: One for what’s needed to continue developing the frequent group practices and the other for what is needed to develop the infrequent or dormant group practices.
- Brainstorming with your group what an easy (baby) step could look like for one season or semester of your small group’s life together.
- Asking group members to pick 1-2 group practices they can picture themselves developing and to give the group a snapshot of what that looks like. Which opportunities tug at their hearts the strongest?
- Observing what people naturally gravitate toward and asking questions to explore their interest levels. Help people see connections between development opportunities and the deployment of their spiritual gifts in your group or your larger church family.
- Inviting group members to take responsibility to develop or strengthen a group practice for a season/semester of your small group life or deploy their spiritual gifts in a ministry of your church.
As individuals are faithful to use their God-given spiritual gifts to build up others, they can be entrusted with greater responsibility in stewarding an area of your small group life. This will empower them in ministry, lift the load of responsibility you’re carrying, multiply leadership development, and grow biblical community, which is transformational for everyone!
Reid Smith has been equipping leaders in churches of all sizes and stages of growth for effective disciple-making since 1996. He lives in Wellington, Florida where he serves as a Groups Pastor at Christ Fellowship. You can find more of his helpful resources at www.reidsmith.org.