Getting Intentional about Discipleship by Regis Nicoll - page 3

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A while back I was on the leadership team of a church with growing attendance and a commensurate budget, but with need for greater biblical literacy among its members. This, despite the fact that it had a gifted pastor who ably exposited the scripture every Sunday! To sow the seed for what I hoped would become a disciple-building process, I proposed a member-wide “spiritual health” survey during a team meeting.

My proposal had a cool reception: “I think our people are pretty well balanced,” one leader temporized; “I wonder how it [answering questions about their spiritual health] will make them feel,” fretted another. Most acknowledged that it was a good idea, in principle; but one for which our people weren’t quite ready.

It wasn’t long before a bitter crisis developed that led to a church split with over one-third of the congregation leaving. A contributing cause was the lack of understanding (or acceptance) of biblical teachings on Church mission and on the divisions of authority and responsibility in the Church. What’s more, because of reliance on “bodies, bucks, and buildings,” the crisis and its fallout blind-sided everyone.

Instead of using such Wall Street indicators, churches should select measures that are more closely and directly tied to discipleship outcomes.

Ideally, small group leaders would collect these data and return them to church staff for compilation. The results would be used to identify “areas of improvement” and help staff set church priorities for the coming year.

For example, if most indicators range between 20 and 50 percent, but evangelism comes in at 5 percent, it would mean that evangelism needs increased emphasis in teaching, programs, and small group curricula.

For congregations without comprehensive small groups, a one-page survey could be developed for members to complete anonymously and turned into the church office.
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