Growing the Church Deeper
A church is ultimately only as spiritually healthy as its ability to
produce spiritually healthy Christ followers. Church leaders
often mistake numerical growth for spiritual health. Some
churches function like a well-oiled machine in their ability to
attract, connect and integrate newcomers. The truth is that it’s
common for rapidly growing churches to do a poor job in
making disciples. Fortunately, church growth and spiritual health
are not an “either or” proposition. They can and need to be
embraced at the same time and with the same fervor.
Some may be surprised to realize that the early church recorded
critical church health metrics right along with its numerical gains.
There was far more going on in the Early Church than
conversions and numerical growth. Look at the practices and
behaviors recorded in the Bible. “And they continued
steadfastly in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the
breaking of bread and the prayers.” Acts 2.42 These spiritual
health measurements were based on faithfulness to God’s
Word, consistency of church attendance, small group
attendance and spiritual fervency in prayer. God considered
them important enough to ensure that they made it into the
biblical record. These discipleship metrics are as relevant today
as they were when they were first recorded but they provide
limited value. Why? They only deal with outward behaviors but
spiritual maturity is always a matter of the heart. Ananias and
Sapphira stand as a sobering witness to this truth.
This is why taking a survey of one’s spiritual practices and
behaviors doesn’t produce in-depth or dependable results. We
all know people who are very religious; faithful in church
attendance and can quote much of the Bible but still lack real
spiritual maturity. The Pharisees fit in this camp. Authentic
spirituality goes much deeper than a paint job. Useful spiritual
metrics must penetrate down to the level of discerning one’s
underlying motivations. Motivations are the only reliable
predictors of one’s future behaviors. It’s also the only advertised
area that is the focus of the activity of God in our lives.
Making Spiritual Progress
Allen Ratta, in is widely acclaimed book, “Making Spiritual
Progress” -published by InterVarsity Press, digs deep and
exposes the key motivational forces that the Bible identifies as
the central activity of the Spirit in a believer's life.
The Making Spiritual Progress companion website
www.SpiritualProgress.com website provides the first
biblical, spiritual assessment that focuses on an individual’s
primary motivations. You can take a personal spiritual
assessment and you can ask others to assess you to see how
those in your different circles of relationships see you. Clump
them together and you can even see a composite view of the
spiritual makeup of an entire church.
The Bible reveals, and the Early Church Fathers clearly taught,
that Faith, Hope and Love are not your garden-variety virtues.
They are powerful motivational forces that the Spirit is at work to
in increase in our lives.
Faith: "We through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting".
Hope: "That you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit".
Love: "The love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit".
Key phrases: through the Spirit, by the Spirit, through the Spirit -
We do well to pay attention to and work to actively participate
with what the Spirit is doing as co-laborers of Christ.
The truth is that a Faith-filled heart, Hope-filled heart and Lovefilled
heart will always act out in predictable ways. The behaviors
that spring forth from these spiritual motivations can be called
symptoms. The Bible provides detailed descriptions of the kinds
of symptoms that each one of these heart conditions produce
and do not produce. For example, we know from biblical
reflection that “love is patient and kind and that it is NOT
jealous.” The Bible is a mirror and each of these points of
reflection provides the basis for making a spiritual diagnosis.
You might call a SpiritualProgress.com spiritual assessment a
large mirror array. When you bring the light of a vast array of
scriptures into a person’s life a clear picture emerges. It’s called
your spiritual character and it’s highly predictive of future
behaviors. May God deliver the church from its fixation on
behaviors and help it to cooperate with the work of the Spirit in
transforming lives from the inside out.
Click here to learn more at www.SpiritualProgress.com