Are you having a hard time getting people engaged in the work of the church? Have you experienced a lot of volunteer turnover? One way to get people on board and working well together—even happily—on the mission of the church is to ensure each person feels valued for their contribution. A great way to do that is by identifying and empowering people to serve using their spiritual gifts.


Spiritual gifts are special abilities given to a believer by the Holy Spirit to be used for the health and growth of the Body of Christ. Every believer has as least one spiritual gift, and every gift is essential for the health of the church. Some gifts are more obvious than others by their nature, but all are important. The basic idea is that every single person has something essential to contribute. Without that person and their gifts, the Body of Christ would be diminished in some way.

Every single person has something essential to contribute. Without that person and their gifts, the Body of Christ would be diminished in some way. Share on X

Recognizing spiritual gifts in others

Carl George identifies 6 ways to spot spiritual gifts:

  • Insight: when a person sees what to do or knows what needs to be done beyond ordinary believers
  • Criticism: when a person points out what’s missing or what’s not being done well, it may be an indication of a spiritual gift (e.g. gift of mercy sees more needs and opportunities)
  • Joy: a sense of fulfillment and personal satisfaction
  • Repeated behaviors: when a person demonstrates a pattern effectiveness and meeting needs
  • Impact: when a person uses a gift, it works (e.g. people learn when teaching gift is used)
  • Comfort zone (faith): when someone has vision for an area and sees how it can be done

Questions to Ask

You can also ask people questions to help them explore their potential spiritual gifts. It’s important not to ask leading questions, but open-ended ones. Here are some possibilities:

  • What do you enjoy doing? (In your personal life? At work? In church?)
  • What ministry activities have been the most fruitful for you?
  • How have others affirmed you?
  • Where do you feel the most sense of accomplishment?

Take the time to really listen to the answers and ask follow-up questions. Don’t worry if the answers don’t seem to immediately correlate with open service positions in the church. Sometimes God uses people to chart new paths and new ministries.

Confirm spiritual giftedness through action

From there, encourage them to try out some ways of using those gifts. Recognize that none of us can function exclusively from our areas of giftedness. Example: “I don’t have the gift of mercy, so I’m not going to bother stopping to help someone.” Scriptural commands are for all of us, regardless of giftedness. Yet try to encourage people to spend at least 60% of their time in their areas of strength and giftedness, even if there is no official ministry role associated with it.

The key is to be intentional about coming alongside people to have conversations to discover their spiritual gifts and try out using them in different ways in ministry. So often we skip over intentional conversations and don’t listen. The results are poor ministry fits, burnout, and turnover.


The Discipleship Difference– This book lays out an intentional, holistic, and relational approach to discipleship that is individualized to meet each person wherever they are. Also available in Spanish.

Leadership Skills Guides– When filling roles, we often look for people who have the skills that we need. But finding the right person and helping them develop the skills can be far more effective in the long run. This set of guides is structured to do just that. The set covers 37 practical skills that are essential to leadership roles, making leadership development simple but effective.

Focused Ministry Coaching Guide and Storyboard: Learn to help others meaningfully engage in ministry that reflects God’s unique gifting and calling on their lives.

Photo by Lina Trochez on Unsplash