I’ve been a youth leader, kids ministry leader, involved in church boards and one of the toughest questions I always loved to face was, is what I am leading helping those that attend to grow closer to Jesus or am I just entertaining them. To boil it down, are they growing spiritually? What’s our approach to tracking spiritual growth?
This thought process really crystallised for me when I read Fruit That Will Last by Tim Hawkins. The thoughts Tim presented about developing a youth group that was solely focused around bringing people to Jesus. He didn’t present a showy-glossy youth group, but a solid down to earth, fun youth group that grew together to know and love Jesus. And always made that the priority.
You may be asking yourself some similar questions about the ministry you’re involved in. No matter what we are leading sometimes we all have moments of reflection. (It surprised me too!) Maybe you’re running a community facing mums and babs group and wondering how you are ever going to share about Jesus with these wonderful ladies.
Maybe, like me, you are running a youth group or kids ministry and trying to figure out if the kids and young people are engaged? Maybe you are looking at the congregation questioning if the sermon you have prepared is going to move someone spiritually closer to Jesus.
Good Show Or Meaningful Impact
All of us, at these times wonder if we’re just providing a good show or are we helping people get to know Jesus more. These are important questions and we should be looking to track this data.
I think some of the most important words Jesus gave us come right at the end of His ministry. He commissions His disciples (us!) to go and make more disciples. He encourages them to do it the way He did it with them. I’ve always loved that two thirds of God’s name is Go and the third letter is d’uh. (Best said with a Homer Simpson voice impression!)
Many of us are trying to do this, but we are not tracking what we have tried, what works and what doesn’t. Too many of us, and I’m guilty of this too, are running on gut feel of what we think works.
The Baseline(s) In Tracking Spiritual Growth
So, where could you start? Well you need a baseline. A simple survey (a google form works well) run repeatedly over a year could give you a really good picture of the spiritual growth of your congregation / members. You want to gather information that is not only a straight yes or no but also questions and answers that give you a scale. For the best responses I would recommend keeping it anonymous.
Three questions you could ask your church members are:
- How often do you read your Bible?
- In the last 6 months what has made the most significant impact on your christian spiritual growth?
- Please rate our church on how it has helped you grow spiritually (1 = not much, 10 = significantly helped) over the past year?
Three questions you could ask your community facing groups:
- If our group was to stop for some reason, what would you miss?
- Would you / have you ever considered coming to church here?
- What elements of our group have a good effect on you spiritually?
Three questions to ask your youth group members:
- What parts of youth group help you connect with Jesus?
- Have you prayed for someone else?
- If you were to paint a picture of your relationship with God right now what would it look like?
What would our church look like if we started asking these questions and tracking spiritual growth with this data. I think it could be quite different. But we will not know for sure until we’ve started collecting data. And like cheese, good data takes time!