It’s a question every church should think through seriously: How do we make sure that everyone finds a place to connect and to belong within our church family? Without an intentional path to involvement, it is so easy for new growth to gradually slip between the cracks. Some churches use “spiritual gift” inventories to help people “discover” the role that God has for them through a specific gift from the Spirit. Matt Carter believes there may be a better way.
Dr. Matt Carter has researched this question extensively. Through the refinement of several churches, numerous observers, and much feedback, he’s put together a program that can help any church–or even a smaller group within a church–go through a process of mutual discernment and empowerment so that people find roles in the ministry of the church which make the most of the present opportunities and build on the best of the members’ capabilities.
An Interview with Dr. Matt Carter
This interview was recorded using Ecamm LIVE. Click the image to watch the video podcast of our conversation.
- How the most widely used understanding of the Greek word charisma in the New Testament may actually be a misapplication.
- Caveats about using “spiritual gift inventories.”
- Reimagining “spiritual gifts” as ministry roles
- The importance of community in discerning a person’s optimal fit
- Why leaders must be genuinely empowering for the church to reach its full potential
- How the way we talk about our churches has a profound impact on the members
- An overview of Matt’s workshop
About Dr. Matt Carter
Dr. Matt Carter is the Director of Admissions at the Harding School of Theology where he’s been since 2011. Before returning to HST on staff, having formerly studied there, Matt spent 15 years in campus ministry and church planting.
Matt is very passionate about helping churches get healthier through the deliberate empowerment of every member for ministry. Please have a look at his website to learn more about his workshop. He is willing to conduct workshops in person, but is also glad to coach church leaders who want to conduct their own program based on his template.
Annotations are from Matt.
- Berding, Kenneth. What Are Spiritual Gifts? Rethinking the Conventional View. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2006.
An excellent book that outlines the gift-as-ministry-role viewpoint.
- Carter, Matthew R., “Spiritual Gifts or Ministry Roles? Helping Church Members Embrace Their Places in God’s Kingdom” (2018). Dissertations and Theses. 1.
- Turner, Max. “Modern Linguistics and Word Study in the New Testament.” In Hearing the New Testament: Strategies for Interpretation, edited by Joel B. Green, 189-217. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010.
A linguistic study of the word χάρισμα for those wanting an in-depth look.
- The One Body Workshop Website
Opportunities to Serve
I have taken this list from Matt’s dissertation. Some people are creative and can easily visualize new possibilities for themselves and others. Others find this a bit harder. If you are trying to get better organized in being aware of your own opportunities to serve, this would make a fine starting point.
This list is slightly adapted from Appendix 3 in Matt’s dissertation which provides opportunities to serve in the Cordova Community Church of Christ. I thought it would be useful to make a list accessible here to spark ideas.
- Growth/Life Group Host
- Youth Group Host
- Audio-Visual Team
- Worship Planning Team
- Public Prayer
- Lord’s Supper Meditation
- Nursery Workers
- Set Up/Tear Down
(See also under Arts)
- Adult Bible Class Teacher
- High School Teacher
- Middle School Teacher
- Elementary Teacher
- Pre-School Teacher
- Nursery Teacher
- Group Leader
- Worship Leader
- Growth/Life Group Leader
- Growth/Life Group Co-Leader
- Growth/Life Group Apprentice
- Adult Bible Class Coordinator
- Church Health Team Leader
- Coordinate Mentoring Ministry
- Lead Carnivals (2x/year)
- Coordinate Building Cleaning (2x/year)
- Coordinate Special Events
- Plan Mission/Service Projects
- Worship Planning Team
- Intercessory Prayer
- Prayer Groups
Mercy / Serving
- Meals For Shut-Ins
- Thanksgiving Turkeys
- Christmas Gifts for the Needy
- Building Cleaning
- Cards Ministry
- Visiting the Sick
- Catering/Cooking Holiday Meals
- Church Offerings
- Financial Strategy Team
- Agape (Children’s Home)
- Member Care
- Children’s Program
- Stage Workers
- Praise Team Singers
- Drama for Worship
- Flowers/Centerpieces at Events
- Graphic Design
- Advertising Cards
- Missionary Support / Encouragement
- Christmas for Missionaries
- Cards for Missionaries
- Carnival Workers with the Community Center
- Prison Ministry Volunteer
- Foster Parent
- Scouting Leader
- Support Group Leader
- Neighborhood Watch
- Block Parties
- School Groups