How Many Spiritual Gifts Are There?

Dr. Larry Gilbert

In a recent survey I asked the question, “What is your spiritual gift?” Of the 72 adults responding, only 15 answered with what could be considered a valid name for a spiritual gift. Twenty-two gave no answer at all. Most amazing of all were the 28 who listed their gift by a term the Bible did not list. Many listed fruit of the Spirit (which are given to all Christians).

By my count, the New Testament lists 21 spiritual gifts.

However, most Bible scholars agree on a list of only 18. And, my friend Dr. C. Peter Wagner includes 27 spiritual gifts in his Finding Your Spiritual Gifts Questionnaire.

The definitions and characteristics of some gifts are so similar, some believe the Scriptures use synonyms in some cases.

The following lists the gifts and Scripture references and suggests a simplified classification. It also shows which gifts are combined for our study.

CLASSIFICATION OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS

  1. Miraculous Gifts
  2. Enabling Gifts
  3. TEAM Gifts

THE TEAM GIFTS

The third category of spiritual gifts is Team Gifts. They are job-, activity-, ministry- or task-oriented gifts. They are functional.

The Team Gifts are divided into two prominent types, speaking and ministering gifts. This does not mean you do not minister with the speaking gifts nor speak in the ministering gifts.

In 1 Peter 4:9-11, Peter speaks of two groups in which to place the gifts. He says in verse 11, “If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides.”

Therefore, Peter gives us two groups of Team Gifts:

  1. “Speaking” gifts (the Greek word laleo) means to talk, utter words. Those who have the speaking gifts are Evangelists, Prophets, Teachers, Exhorters, and Shepherds.
  2. “Ministering” gifts are support gifts. Ministers are not kings but “king-makers.” These people are happy to work behind the scenes supporting the ones who have the speaking gifts. Ministering gifts include Shepherds, Mercy-Showers, Servers, Givers, and Administrators. Note that the Shepherd is on both lists. This is because of the many responsibilities God has given His “under-shepherds.”

A detailed description with characteristics, strengths, weaknesses, and some areas where people with the Team Gifts are often misunderstood is covered in the articles listed below, one for each Team Gift.

As you study your spiritual gifts and the other Team Gifts, you need to understand they are generalized and there are as many variations and degrees as there are people who have these gifts.

NEXT STEPS

Anyone familiar with Scripture knows there are spiritual gifts. I want to reaffirm that God has given everyone in His family at least one spiritual gift and everyone in His family has a responsibility to use their gifts. It is important that the common misconceptions mentioned in this article be cleared up so that a proper biblical foundation is established so that everybody knows where the spiritual gifts come from. In other words, all of God’s children need to know they are gifted and why they are gifted.


 

Dr. Larry Gilbert is founder and chairman of Ephesians Four Ministries, and founder of ChurchGrowth.org. For more on spiritual gifts, see Dr. Gilbert’s books from which this article was excerpted  Your Gifts: Discover God’s Unique Design for You (for individuals and small groups) and  Team Ministry: Gifted to Serve (for pastors and group leaders) published by ChurchGrowth.org Copyright © 2015 ChurchGrowth.org. Other Team Ministry spiritual gifts resources are shown below, including the Your Gifts Spiritual Gifts Survey. For a free online Spiritual Gifts Survey, click here

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