How does a church shift from "needs-based" to "gifts-based" ministry?


Our church is thinking more about gifts-based ministry (helping people discover the gifts God has blessed them with and how best to serve the church and others) rather than needs-based ministry ("we need 3 volunteers for the nursery and 24 dozen cookies for the ladies tea.")

Who has seen this transition in their own church? How did it go?

Are you in this transition? How is it going?

Is your church now leading a strong, gifts-based ministry, with people equipped and passionate to serve? Can you provide advice or encouragement for those of us working in that direction?

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Hi Rebecca,

I am so excited to hear of your desire to shift to gift-based ministry, it is one of my greatest joys and am passionate about helping people (churches) live into Christ-centered, relationship-oriented, gift-based ministry.  Our church has been moving in that diretion for a few years now and are beginning to see the fruits of that transition.  I just facilitated a workshop on the subject this past weekend.  I would love to talk more with you about it.  In the meantime I will pray joy in the journey for you.


Hi Rebecca,

We have had a gift-based ministry in our church for more than 10 years -- and it has been fantastic for us.  We put on a Discover-Your-Spiritual-Gifts program on a regular basis and stored the results in a database.  We have also categorized all the serving positions in our church for the spiritual gifts required.  It just makes so much sense!  Putting people with the wrong gifts into a position never works out.  But putting the right gifts to work has great rewards -- the people serving are energized by their service so much that we've even been able to extend the length of service terms.

As for the transition, we brought in a consultant from Christian Reformed Home Missions to take us through the process.  Between the seminars, training and many sermons on spiritual gifts, this approach worked well for us.

Yes, it's a bunch of work -- change is always difficult -- but now our ministry feels very natural.  We couldn't imagine going back.

Encouragement and blessings to your and your congregation!


Hi John,

I read with interest your reply regarding gift based ministry.  Our church is just beginning this process as well.  I am in a new church home and have been asked to take the lead on this.  We have completed one gifts class at the present time.  I am looking for a good database to house, track and utilize the information from the gifts inventory forms.  Our church database has minimal capabilities in this area.  It would be most helpful if the gifts database could house all types of membership info as well so that we can have a well rounded picture of our people and most effectively help to guide them into the ministries coinciding with their gifts, talents, and abilities.  Would you by chance have a recommendation for a good database?



Just a thought here.   If everyone had the same "gifts"  would that mean that some needs would not be met?   Perhaps the greatest gifts are always centered around meeting the needs of others, rather than the expectation of self?  

Thanks for all the comments on my question, this is so encouraging!

Sometimes the greatest gifts are not  talents or abilities.   Sometimes opportunities are the greatest gifts.  


If you are the only one who can play the piano, it is a gift.    If everyone can play the piano, you may not have the opportunity. 

Just a thought here.   If everyone had the same "gifts"  would that mean that some needs would not be met?   Perhaps the greatest gifts are always centered around meeting the needs of others, rather than the expectation of self?  

One approach to this, and the way we are encouraging people to think about this at my church, is to be involved in two ways - through a primary ministry that uses their gifts, and through a secondary ministry where they are needed. We are also careful to remember that everyone is called to have faith, pray and evangelize even if their spiritual gifts aren't Faith, Intercession or Evangelism. We just know that those with these gifts are specially equipped, but that doesn't let the rest of us off the hook.

Here's an example I can think of. We have coffee and cookies after church each week. Certainly the gift of Hospitality would be a blessing in this ministry. However, given how many people at my church participate in this way, I would say it's almost certain that not all of them have this gift. Yet, nearly anyone is capable of bringing cookies and pouring coffee, so they may serve in this way as their secondary ministry because they are needed.