Getting Intentional about Discipleship by Regis Nicoll - page 4

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Assessing Member Health

While assessing corporate health is essential for establishing church priorities, assessing member health is necessary to address needs at the individual level.

Individual assessment begins with each member taking stock of their spiritual condition and identifying their own areas for improvement. For example, a member might consider the items listed to to the right, ranking each from 1 (least need) to 4 (greatest need)

Members would select two or three of their greatest needs (ranked 4) for improvement. They would then develop a spiritual growth plan with at least one other person to provide mutual guidance, support, and accountability. Each should help the other identify goals that are appropriate, achievable, and measurable.

For instance, if "Prayer" is selected as an area for improvement, “Experience a richer prayer life,” while appropriate is not measurable. Instead, goals might include (1) read Richard Foster’s book Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home,( 2) attend a prayer seminar or conference, (3) pray "x" minutes every day, (4) enlist a prayer partner, (5) become an intercessor, (6) join a prayer group.

Throughout the year--say, once every three months--members should reevaluate their spiritual needs, and revise their growth plans accordingly.

A Matter of Faith

Admittedly, what I have just outlined places demands on people far beyond what some--maybe many--will be willing to accept.

Pastors will look at the suggestions for revised mission statements, new health indicators, corporate assessments, individual assessments, monitoring, and small group formation and feel overwhelmed at the upfront “cost” of promotion, development and implementation; not to mention dealing with push-back from the pews. They may fear that the initiative could lead to a mass exodus. For a church heavily invested in buildings, facilities and salaried staff that is a valid concern. But, as Jesus warned, “Many are called but few are chosen” (Matt. 22:14).

And yet the long-term returns are inestimable. Disciples are people transitioning from ministry consumers to ministry providers. Every person who is discipled helps free up pastors to devote more of their energies to the spiritual vision and direction of the church, and the selection and the development of leaders.

Getting intentional about discipleship, in the end, is a matter of faith. We can put our faith in the status quo, doing what we’ve always done and getting what we’ve always gotten—undiscipled Christians in churches dying by attrition; or we can put our faith in God, correcting our Great Omission and trusting that the branches that wither away and die or are cut off, will be replaced by new growth that will multiply ten, twenty, a hundred fold. 


Regis Nicoll is a lay catechist of an Anglican church plant, a freelance writer and a BreakPoint Centurion. His "All Things Examined" column appears on BreakPoint every other Friday.

This article is modified and expanded from one that first appeared on BreakPoint online.

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