Revision as of 3/6/2018.
Spiritual gifts are a topic that I hadn’t heard or read much about. Sure, they’re laid out in the bible. I’ve heard about people learning to speak in tongues, and have met people claiming to have visions. I’ve heard the stories of people casting out demons. In the back of my mind, I knew had gifts of my own, but didn’t think of them outside of the things I seem to be good at.
Out of a recommendation that I take a spiritual gifts test, I began looking for a good book on the topic. That is when I came across Peter Wagner’s “Your Spiritual Gifts Can Help Grow Your Church”. A book more than just learning how to grow a church. It takes you through an in-depth study on all of the spiritual gifts, along with a good history lesson on various groups throughout history.
I appreciated his history lesson when it comes to the Pentecostal movement. I’ve always been leery of people who claim they can speak in tongues. I don’t quite understand the point of trying to learn a gift that you don’t have. I also never understood why its limited to 1 or 2 things. This gave me a new perspective and a background to associate those questions with. Wagner also gives you a look inside other groups to compare them too, and a good biblical challenge to read and study the bible.
As you journey through what he has broken out to be 28 spiritual gifts, you’ll be met with real-life stories from him and other people he met along his life. He’ll use real-world examples to help you understand each spiritual gift, how to identify the ones you have, and how to understand ones you don’t have.
I didn’t always agree with his definition of a specific spiritual gift. He talked a lot about gift projection, and I felt sometimes he was stretching into that arena. He tried to be biblical about it, and I didn’t feel that he was inventing them, but I found a couple to be a little bit of a stretch. Then again, I am not the one giving out gifts, so maybe his feelings were valid.
From an attention span and ease read angle, this book was perfect. I couldn’t put it down, and found it smooth and easy to understand. Like all writers, he used some words that I considered “big” and had to refresh my memory on, but overall he didn’t try to sound intentionally intellectual for the sake of fancy literature.
The “Can Grow Your Church” section is good for anyone, but specially, he talks to Pastors. Not being a Pastor, I found it valuable from my own perspective. It gave me great insight into how a Pastor might approach the arranging of his congregation in different tasks around the Church. This was a perspective I appreciated.
Something to take with a bit of skepticism is his definition of apostleship. Wagner believed he had this gift, and broke down the difference between holding an office and having the gift. While I agree with him in that sense, apostleship comes with three very specific rule. You must have witnessed Jesus Christ. You have to be appointed by Jesus Christ. You have to prove your apostleship with signs and wonders. You can read all about these requirements throughout Matthew, Mark, and Acts. Wagner believed he was good at planting and growing Churches because he had this gift, but not the office. I would have simply told him “You’re just good at administration.”
Another thing that gave me the willies was his wife’s gift of healing. Although he doesn’t go into detail, his criticism of the Pentecostal movement made me wonder a little bit what he was talking about. I am not sure if he ever took to a stage to perform mass healing, or if she simply sought out sick people and prayed over them. Still, I think the only one that has the true gift of healing these days is God. We as the body of Christ are to always be praying, especially for our sick. I just have to wonder why anyone would misread the writings surrounding the Holy Spirit, and think they can summon him on their command and heal people.
Because of these two points, I have chosen to take the rating down to a 3/5. This will most likely spark some discussion some day in my court, and that’s ok.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking to begin exploring spiritual gifts. If you’re curious about your own spiritual gifts, this is a good book for you. You’ll learn to identify your gifts, including his spiritual gifts test at the end of the book. Wagner does a nice job with the layout of the book in that you have a boxed out section each time he explains what a gift is. Those boxes have biblical references, examples, and definitions. I found that piece of the book the most helpful.
All Christians have spiritual gifts. They are used to make up the body of Christ. They’re not limited to learn to speak in tongues, or putting on a show about healing. Some of them have not been given out since the apostolic age. Gifts are very real and dynamic. This book will teach you about them and how to find your gifts.