Teaching Youth About Spiritual Gifts
When I was in youth group I was often told, “I think you have the gift of helps”. I just enjoyed helping others, but I didn’t think of service as a spiritual gift I needed to use. Looking back, I wish I had been guided through discovering, not just naming, my spiritual gifts. It wasn’t until later in life that I fully understood my spiritual gift and how I could use this gift in my life and in the church. And now I get to focus on teaching youth about spiritual gifts.
“Looking back, I wish I had been guided through discovering, not just naming, my spiritual gifts.”
The church is overlooking a tremendous opportunity if we aren’t taking the time to help students (even children) discover how God has gifted them to serve.
Here is the process we use at our church for teaching youth about spiritual gifts.
Teach. We teach on spiritual gifts once a year. When possible in other messages, we remind students that, as a Christ follower, God has given them gifts to be used to serve Christ and the church. This is a broad approach and may spark conversation with a few students. We teach mainly to expose students to what the gifts are and how they are used in the body of Christ.
Small Groups. About once a year we have discussion-based learning in our small groups centered around spiritual gifts. Small groups allow students the opportunity to ask questions and for their leaders to help guide them in the discovery process. Small group leaders usually know the students in their group well, which is critical in helping students realize how God has gifted them.
Assessments. We take advantage of the tools available to us. I wish someone had come up with a spiritual gift assessment like this one when I was a teen. This tool will help students get a better idea of how God has gifted them and how that gift can be used, especially if you follow up with a one on one conversation about their results. We use these in our small groups and in mission trip preparation. Small groups are a great time to walk students through the assessment, and mission trips show students how God has shaped our team and put us together to accomplish His mission.
Hands On. The best approach to teaching youth about spiritual gifts is to give them opportunities to use their gifts, which we do through our church, mission trips, and weekly youth group. In church, we encourage our students to serve alongside adults in different church ministries; we call it “the test drive”. Our annual mission trip shows how God has wired them to serve in different ways. In youth group, students have a key role in leadership and planning for events. Don’t just tell your students what their gifts are; give them opportunities to use them!
The Bonus. When we partner with students to discover their gifting, we then know how to best plug them into our ministry. Imagine this: serving, planning, and working together with your students to accomplish the vision and purpose of your student ministry. To help students make this discovery requires time, intentional conversations, and coaching, but the benefit to our students and our student ministry has been huge. Because of our intentionality in this area, on Sundays, you’ll find our students changing diapers in the nursery, teaching children, serving at the check-in kiosk, greeting on our First Impressions and Hospitality teams, and running the lights and the sound in “big church”.
We use the “Student Leaders Start Here” and the “Spiritual Gifts Assessment” found in the LeaderTreks store. In our experience, this small step is worth the investment if you want to help your students discover how God has wired them to serve and who He has created them to be.
About the Author
Andy Lawrenson has been in student ministry for 26 years both as a volunteer and paid staff member. Andy and his wife, Misha, have been married for 28 years and have three children: a son in middle school and twin eight-year-olds, a boy and girl. Andy loves getting together with other youth pastors to talk about… Read More