Gifts for Ministry

Summary of Insights, Challenges and Experiments from Mission Summit Conversations (June 2013)

  • Insights
    • Encouragers and supporters are important in this process.
    • We learned that we discover gifts by observing others.
    • Gifts are understood and developed in increments.
  • Challenges
    • What might happen if we let gifts of the members lead rather than structure?
    • What if we started building our ministry according to the gifts present?
    • Can we move away from institutional focus to spiritual service?
  • Experiments
    • One church brainstorms community needs and gifts within the church
    • Another church explores gifts during worship and commissions them
    • Another church has a gifts open house

Summary of Insights, Challenges and Experiments from the Mission Table (November 2013)

  • Insights
    • Need to discern between generic “cookie cutter” approaches vs. sensitivity to particular callings
    • What (ministry) could we be doing if we weren’t so busy filling all of our slots in the ways we feel “need” to be done?
    • Importance of prayerful process, focusing on discerning call
    • We are doing things simply because it has been written down that we must do those things.
    • We are all created in the image of God – but we live in a culture of condemning self, others.
    • Are we developing people who are secure enough to be corrected (while doing ministry)?
    • Our “idea people” and “execution people” are not always the same.
  • Challenges
    • Is our environment/culture a place where people can take risks as they search out gifts?
    • Are we willing to let certain programs/ministries die?
    • All churches have gatekeepers, who determine who gets involved and what happens.  We talked at great length about gatekeepers:
      • What do we honor/uplift as a church: which people and ministries are held in high value?
      • Are we asking/utilizing the same people repeatedly to fill certain church roles?
      • How can we encourage new people to use new gifts?  Just ask?
      • What do we communicate about competency?  Sometimes people are made to feel inadequate.
      • Are we bound to predictable-technical structures or free to follow the guidance of the Spirit?
    • Ministry is not my ministry but the church’s ministry (really, God’s ministry).  We are stewards of this; it is not ours (cf. “gatekeepers” comments above).
    • Pastors have for too long lifted up the pastor as the only expression of being called by God.
    • There is a tension between “boundaries” and “freedom” – we need both to guide our church ministries.
  • Experiments/Projects
    • How can we give freedom, maybe even to the extent that we do not have “slots”?”
    • “Discernmentarian” is a role we need to develop in our churches.
    • We need to be building in to all of the people; accountability groups foster spiritual formation, including the identifying and development of gifts.
    • Coaching is necessary.
    • A new philosophy: give ministry away.
    • Can we have deacons, others partner with new “gift utilizers” to do ministry alongside others?

Read the full notes:

Mission Summit Conversations:

Mission Table:

Views expressed are the sole opinion of conversation participants. They do not express the views of American Baptist Churches USA, or individual American Baptist churches. Conversation notes and summaries are shared to allow American Baptists and friends to easily review and use these Mission Summit Conversations and the Mission Table learnings as they wish.