Spiritual Gifts in Youth Ministry

As a youth minister beginning a ministry basically from scratch in the church I began serving in five months ago, I knew that I needed to create a mission statement.  Not just to be all Baptist and cool like that, but I knew I needed something to focus on–something as a template and frame for the ministry.  I came up with, “Grace Fellowship Baptist Church Youth Group exists to unite teenagers together in the Bolivar community to teach them Biblical Truths, disciple them into mature believers, and equip them to express their faith through the use of spiritual gifts to reach the lost world.”

So far, I had been teaching them Biblical Truths. I believe (and hope) that I had been discipling them into mature believers.  But that last part?  Equip them to express their faith through the use of spiritual gifts? Whoa. Spiritual gifts?  Yep, that hadn’t been done for the first few months of ministry (unless you count our epic Christmas skit).

So I knew I had to start somewhere. The first night, we looked at scriptures from Ephesians, Corinthians, and other passages and came up with a list of gifts. I gave them an inventory (you can find one like it here) to begin with.  Although I know these tests aren’t completely reliable, it helps us think about what our gifts could be.  I have a notebook from when I was 13 and first took a test; and the gifts that I scored “high” in then, I score high in now and actually consider them my gifts.  I had completely forgot that I even took one then, so it’s kind of cool to see that the test was “right.”

The next week we talked about the inventory, and laid out the “biblical foundation” for spiritual gifts.  I gave them the following list of spiritual truths:
1. Every Christian has at least one Spiritual Gift (1 Peter 4:10)
2. No Christian has all the gifts (1 Corinthians 12:28-30)
3. We cannot choose our gifts; God does that job (1 Corinthians 12:7-11)
4. There is no gift that every Christian possesses (1 Corinthians 12:29-30)
5. Believers will account to the Lord for how they use their gifts (1 Peter 4:10)
6. Spiritual Gifts indicate God’s call and purpose for a Christian’s life (Romans 12:2-8)
7. Gifts used without love do not accomplish God’s intended purposes (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)
8. Spiritual Gifts are for the common good to build up the Body (1 Corinthians 12:27)
9. We must use our gifts. (2 Timothy 3:16; Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12-14; Ephesians 4; 1 Peter 4)
10. There is affirmation and positive feedback within the Body of Christ for the expression of the gift (1 Corinthians 12:7; Ephesians 4:16)
11. There is agreement within the Body of Christ that the Holy Spirit is at work (1 John 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:21)
12. The Holy Spirit provides peace in our spirits as we offer our gifts to the Body of Christ (John 15:26; Romans 8:16)
13. There is evidence of godly fruit in the life of the Body (John 15:8; Matthew 7:16-20)
14. Believers offer their gifts for the common good as others have need (Acts 2:44-45; 1 Corinthians 12:7)
15. Unless gifts are offered in love, they have no worth (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)
16. We should strive to live a life worthy of our calling (Ephesians 4:1)

(I understand that some of those are redundant, but hey.)
When we were discussing that, I came up with a diagram. I’m big into diagrams, and I made this one up on the spot (and have tweaked it every week since). I’m actually quite proud of it (not in a prideful kind of way, haha).

It might seem confusing to you, but it is based off of all the verses in the “biblical foundation” I expressed before.
That took a night or two to go through, because I wanted them to really get into what the bible says and read almost all of the verses.

After that, we went through the gifts in depth.  (You can download the workbook I gave them here…I used “Baptist-friendly” gifts, haha).  We have spent a few Sundays going through it.  We aren’t reading all the scriptures associated, because they already understand that the gift exists through earlier scriptures.  We have spent more than a month of Sunday nights doing this.  I’ve been doing it with the Sunday night crowd for one main reason–the people who are most devoted to the church and to growing spiritually tend to come then.  On Wednesday nights, you never know who is going to come, so it’s easier to do it with the “regulars”.

This won’t be the first time we go through this sort of study.  The hardest thing is trying to get them to think of ways to use their gifts now.  It’s hard when you say, “I have the gift of administration, what can I do with that as a 14-year old?”  Part of my job is to help them come up with ways. Rethinking Youth Ministry posted a blog earlier today about how one youth pastor is trying to do it. I want them to get involved in any facet possible–music, ushering, recreation, leading studies/devotions, tech, prayer, etc.

What ideas do you guys have to help me out?  How do you discuss spiritual gifts with your youth group?  As a young minister, I would like help from those who have been through this before.

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