Spiritual Gifts? People Eager for More

Younger respondents have bigger and more emphatic responses to . . . gifting.

Gifted for More” is a new resource on spiritual gifts with convincing evidence that the time is right for churches to help people identify, develop and share their unique, God-given unique abilities. Subtitled “A new framework for equipping Christians to share their abilities and skills in everyday life,” the 140-page monograph comes from a partnership between Lutheran Hour Ministries, a trusted and Gospel-focused leader in global media, and Barna, a research firm dedicated to providing actionable insights on faith and culture. Here’s a glimpse of the many fascinating statistics, about both Christians and non-Christians, included.

  • Only 50% of practicing Christians use terms like ‘giftings’ and ‘callings’ as one of the top three words when thinking about their strengths and skills. (pg13)
  • “Younger respondents have bigger and more emphatic responses to almost anything on the topic of gifting.” (pg. 21)
  • “Most practicing Christians feel growing in gifts means growing closer to God” (pg 58).
  • Of those who express interest in developing their gifts, Christian and non-Christian alike, over 40% prefer to do so in a small group with friends (pg. 41).

The researchers also identify two “worrrisome” trends. The first is that people understand gifts in the context of occupation, rather than the context of faith. The second is that, in general, pastors understand gifts more narrowly, in the context of service in the church, missing out on the impact of a broader impact that includes both church and community. 

Service is the ‘sweet spot”

I love how this study encompasses use of gifts in both church and everyday life. This broader focus not only helps us apply our faith to our whole life, it also positions us to bring God’s love and his message to people around us, as they experience our serving. As Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson put it in “The Externally Focused Church,” service is the ‘sweet spot’ where the desires of the community, the gifts of God’s people, and the calling of the church intersect. The book includes a short section on how the church can respond, with some simple practical things we all can do. I’d love to see more resources on this, and especially to see more church networking and collaborating on various ways we can build gift awareness and gift development as ongoing parts of church life. Such an emphasis ties in perfectly with the growing emphasis on discipleship in our churches. If this at all intrigues you, I’d encourage you to:

  • buy “Gifted for More”  from Lutheran Hour Ministries and get a full picture of the research.
  • Start a conversation within your church about these statistics and how you can respond.
  • Expand the conversation with other church leaders.
  • I’m hosting an open forum on Tues. March 21 at 2pm to share how my church is preparing for a spiritual gifts emphasis, and to answer questions. Contact me for the zoom link.
  • Use tags and the search function to find other resources on this site on spiritual gifts, gift inventories, etc. The store contains my book on ‘Putting Spiritual Gifts to Work’ plus “It’s About Time,” a small group discipleship resource that helps people consider their unique gifts as they think about their use of time.

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