When you work with church leaders for long enough, you begin to identify common themes and challenges. I have been involved in lay leadership in several churches and have worked with hundreds of pastors over the years, and one thing they all have in common is the desire for people to engage with their church and be transformed by an encounter with Jesus.
Setting the stage for these encounters takes many forms. Each church is unique, but all face a similar challenge:
How do we measure the intangible with the observable?
Spiritual growth and engagement is largely intangible. You can’t measure someone’s growing love for and connection to God using a yardstick. So we look for the outward signs of a disciple. This is not a foolproof plan either; we all know stories of individuals who have outwardly lived “as they should” only to reveal later that there was little to no real connection to the Father.
But one big reason that this approach breaks down is simply that churches don’t have the right tools to get a full picture of someone’s engagement and connection to the church.There are many ways people can live out their faith, but here are six common signs of discipleship:
- Connection through Prayer
1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 – Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
- Engagement in Scripture
Joshua 1:8 – Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
- Being Present
Hebrews 10:25 – Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
- Acts of Service
Isaiah 58:6-8 – Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness the LORD will be your rear guard.
- Investment in Others
Ephesians 4:11-13 – So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
- Worship through Generosity
Deuteronomy 16:17 – Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you.
Arundel Christian Church, through the use of effective processes and a unifying church management system, measures people’s engagement and discovers effective ways to deepen their involvement.
Measuring the intangible can be tough — especially without the right tools. If you are using disconnected systems to track giving, attendance, and engagement, you might be making it harder than it needs to be. Eliminating data silos in your church can help you gain a fuller picture of an individual’s personal journey and involvement. How are you measuring individual spiritual growth within your church?
For more on this, read the story of three churches that eliminated data silos and increased their ability to engage people, invest in their spiritual maturity, and empower them to participate in ministry.