At that moment a woman accidentally dropped her cup, which broke and spilled coffee all over the floor. Each group member responded differently to the mishap, according to their spiritual gifts:
The teacher gave some advice. “Next time if you will put your cup on the coffee table, that won’t happen again.”
The administrator responded by organizing a clean-up committee. “Bill, please go find a mop. Sally, could you help him with a towel?”
Bill, who had the gift of service, hurried to get the mop.
Sally, who had the gift of helps, followed Bill and said, “I’ll help you!”
The person with the gift of exhortation said, “We all make mistakes so don’t let it get you down.”
The person with the gift of mercy put her arm around the woman, patted her hand and said, “I feel so badly for you.”
The person with the gift of giving exclaimed, “I’ll buy a new set of coffee mugs to replace the broken one!”
They all used their various gifts together to resolve the situation.
A spiritual gift can be defined as “an individual manifestation of grace from the Father that enables you to serve Him and thus play a vital role in His plan for the redemption of the world” (Ken Hemphill, Serving God: Discovering and Using Your Spiritual Gifts Workbook, p. 22.). It is not a special ability that one develops on their own like a skill or a talent. It is important to choose group leaders with the group purpose in mind, because the group will ultimately begin to take on the characteristics of the group leader. The goal of a group leader is to discover how God in His grace has gifted them for service and to lead others in the same joy of discovery.
According to the book, “Countdown: Launching & Leading Transformational Groups,” the prime candidates for group leaders are those with one of the speaking gifts:
- Prophecy – proclaiming the Word of God boldly in order to build up the body and lead to conviction of sin. (Romans 12:6)
- Teaching – instructing people in the truths and doctrines of God’s Word for the purpose of building up, unifying, and maturing the body. (Romans 12:7)
- Shepherding – looking out for the spiritual welfare of others. (Mark 6:34)
- Exhortation – encouraging and motivating members to be involved in and enthusiastic about, the work of the Lord. (Romans 12:8)
Groups will tend to take on the characteristics of the leaders gifts. However it is important that all of these ministries be carried out. So other group members will need to be enlisted to cover them, much like our little story at the beginning. When recruiting leaders to help accomplish the ministries of the group, recruit people to a vision, not just a job description. Help them to understand how their service will help the group accomplish God’s purposes.
Mark Donnell serves as the Small Group Sunday School/Discipleship Specialist for the Missouri Baptist Convention in Jefferson City, Missouri.