What Are Spiritual Gifts (October 5)

1 Corinthians 12:1-11


Timothy Brock (Discovering Our Spiritual Gifts, pp. 17, 18) defines some of the spiritual gifts found in 1 Corinthians 12:

The capacity to convincingly illustrate the mystery of God's Truth in very concrete, practical, and specific ways.”

The capacity to cognitively comprehend the complexities of God's Truth and to explain these complexities to others.”

A sensitivity to the pains and hurts of other persons and the capacity to participate in addressing these pains and hurts.”

The capacity to receive, to reveal, or to interpret God's Truth, publicly, no matter the consequences or risks.”

The ability to recognize and to affirm the skills, talents, and spiritual gifts of other people, especially other Christians.”

Kenneth Cain Kinghorn (Discovering Your Spiritual Gifts, pp. 12, 13) defines the additional spiritual gifts found in 1 Corinthians 12:

“Faith is the special ability to 'see the light at the end of the tunnel,' even though others are unaware of divine possibilities in a situation.”

“Healing enables one to function as an instrument of God's healing and grace in the lives of others.”

“Tongues enable some Christians to praise God either in another language not yet learned (Acts 2) or in ecstatic utterance which is not an earthly language (1 Corinthians 14).”

“Tongues, Interpretation Of: The interpretation of tongues is required if speaking in tongues is exercised publicly. The gift enables one to interpret to others the intent or meaning of what was uttered to God by the one being interpreted.”

Reading the Scripture

Here is an activity to use as you read the scripture:

Wrap the individual spiritual gifts listed in the passages used during this unit (1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12, and Ephesians 4), each in a separate package or gift bag. Open them each week as you discuss them.
1 Corinthians 12
Interpretation of Tongues
Romans 12    
Ephesians 4    

Teaching Suggestions

  • Use a spiritual gifts inventory to help class members understand which spiritual gifts they might have. Each class member could fill out an inventory, then score it (or it might be scored during the week and the results given the following week). The inventory simply reflects back how class members understand their gifts through a series of choices. I have some gifts inventories in my office you could use. Let me know if you would like to use one.
  • A Piece of the Puzzle: Your class has been given an 11 by 17 inch puzzle piece, along with all twelve adult Sunday School classes. On Sunday, October 26, from 9:30 until about 9:40 we invite you to the Welcome Cafe' to work the puzzle with the other adult classes. Display the puzzle piece throughout the month. Let class members write their names on it. As you learn about Spiritual Gifts and class members discover their unique spiritual gifts, you can print the gifts beside, under, or near their names. You will probably have to write small in order to have room. There are several ways you could write the spiritual gifts:
    • Class members write what they see as their spiritual gifts.
    • Class members write the spiritual gifts they see in others.
    • Or some combination.
  • Using Spiritual Gifts at LABC: See “Meeting Needs Around Us,” in the Teaching Guide (p. 26): “List on the board some needs and challenges that the church faces. Next to each need, list useful gifts that could serve it, including those mentioned in the text.” Choose a key ministry, mission, event, or issue before the LABC right now. For example: Soup's On Us, Morocco or Nada Partnership, Church Budget, Potential Renovation, Retired Adults, Young Adults, etc. Discuss how class members' specific spiritual gifts could be used in the named ministry or for addressing the current issue. The purpose of this discussion is not to solve the particular issue or ministry or to offer opinions, but the purpose is to discuss what spiritual gifts in your class could be useful in a particular area. If the discussion moves into a problem solving or opinion sharing mode, as facilitator you can guide the conversation back to how spiritual gifts may be used.
  • The Teaching Guide (p. 26) asks the question: “What can the church do to nurture its members gifts?” I would be very interested in hearing any insights that come from this discussion, if you ask that question.
  • The Soup's On Us Assembly line, packing boxes, would make a good metaphor for everyone using their gifts. Each person on the line places something different in the box to make a complete meal. Ask any Soup's On Us participant for details.


I have set aside a shelf in the library with resources for Sunday School teachers. I will place there resources of general interest and some specifically applicable to current lessons. Other resources are kept in my office.

  • Books and Resources on Spiritual Gifts in Keith's Office
    • Yours for the Giving: Spiritual Gifts, Barbara Joiner (Birmingham, AL: WMU Press, 1986).
    • Klesis: God's Call and the Journey of Faith, Kathy Dobbins, Colin Harris, Doris Nelms (Atlanta: Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, 2005).
    • Discovering Our Spiritual Gifts: A Seminar in Spiritual Formation, Timothy Brock
    • How to Discover Your Spiritual Gifts, John Hendrix (Nashville: Convention Press, 1979).
    • Rediscovering Our Spiritual Gifts, Charles Bryant (Nashville: Upper Room, 1991).
    • Discovering Your Spiritual Gifts: A Personal Inventory Method, Kenneth Cain Kinghorn (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981)
  • For additional commentary on the text see these commentaries in our library:
    • Mercer Commentary on the Bible (Mercer University Press, 1995)
    • Harper’s Bible Commentary (Harper & Row, 1988).