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Congregational Coaches Chronicles

By Charlotte Ewbank

When we first discussed holding a workshop to discover our ‘gifts’ as the second part of our Stewardship Campaign which we launched last year, I understood in general terms that Stewardship was more than giving money, it has always included giving of our time and talent.

My first thought was that I already understood what stewardship meant; did I really need another workshop. I’m already a believer, or so I thought. In the past I have filled out church forms outlining my hobbies or talents, knowing it would be recorded on one list or another and I would eventually receive a call for baked goods for the bazaar or a fund-raising dinner. Truthfully did I really want to fill out yet another form listing my dubious hobbies?

Somehow, I never really thought about spiritual gifts, when I thought about church, which when you think of it seems a little strange. I’m a doer, let’s get organized and get it done, and that didn’t equate with my thinking of ‘spiritual gifts’.

I believe I can honestly say that by the end of the day I understood a lot more about spiritual gifts and now have a better understanding how they can help us to do so much more than the limiting effect we place on ourselves by concentrating most of our efforts on fund-raising.

Our coach Paul Townshend first helped us to understand that spiritual gifts are special abilities given by the Holy Spirit, to each member of the body of Christ. Without having any specific idea of what these spiritual gifts might be, we were led through a series of 115 statements; scoring ourselves based on our agreement or disagreement with the statements made.

After adding our 115 separate scores, we were left with a list of 23 combined scores, representing 23 different spiritual gifts. Finally, we got to fill in our scores alongside different Spiritual Gifts.  These spiritual gifts ranged from Administration to Healing to Intercession to Prophet all the way to Wisdom.  Certainly, a diversified and wide range of gifts.

What was really enlightening here is coming to some understanding of what these spiritual gifts looked like in today’s world. I looked at some of the gifts clearly understanding them and being able to relate to them such as ‘Hospitality’, but then there were others such as Discernment; how could that relate to me!

With the guidance of our coach, based on scriptures we looked at each spiritual gift. For Discernment (Proverbs 17:24, Hosea 14:8-9 and Acts 5:3-6) the explanation was ’The Holy Spirit enables some of us to discover the will of God.’ To exercise the gift of discernment is to distinguish between truth and error, to identify whether something is of God. This gift involves wisdom and prayerfulnesss.  Ministries using this gift might be; Counselor, Pastoral Caregiver, Hospice Volunteer, Contact Volunteer, Spiritual Director, Vestry Member, participation on aspirant’s discernment committee, serving on a committee to employ and deal with church workers.

Ultimately there is understanding that we are talking about spirit given core gifts or strengths, not a practice or talent that we have learned or developed.

As an additional tool we went through a group exercise of sharing our top three gifts. Collectively our group ranked our top gifts as Serving, Mercy, Giving, Faith and Caregiver.

Through this final exercise we realized that even as a small parish as we move forward with a shared vision of more community involvement, we are capable of doing so much more than we could even have imagined before we started the workshop.

At the end of the day, I personally came away with the thought that I did indeed have some spiritual gifts, gifts that will help me to relate to our Five Marks of Mission in some small way.

Charlotte Ewbank is a parishioner at Trinity Anglican Church, Wiarton (as a part of the Lutheran and Anglican Ministries of the Bruce).

Photo: Lee Bartley