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Measuring Growth

As a small group leader, and now a leader of small group leaders, I am often asking and being asked this question “How is your group doing?” I often ask myself that question of the group I lead. The question is vague and can come off as nothing more than a conversational pleasantry. It assumes your reply will be “great, and yours?” That exchange of words is completely useless to a small group leader and to a leader of small group leaders. BUT, evaluating the spiritual maturity of your small group remains an absolutely essential task. The first step in effectively evaluating your group is realizing it is made up of individuals. And unless you know where your individual group members are spiritually, you will make vague & usually incorrect generalizations about where your group “is.” And by the way, the “where” is not as much gauged on a numerical scale (eg. 1-10) as much as it is observing what areas of their lives they are following Christ in. So let me give you some hopefully helpful identifiers for measuring spiritual growth in the lives of your group members (and also your own life). These are neither exhaustive nor foolproof. By the way, I am not where I want to be on any of these so if you go on a judgmental tirade in your group with these, im gonna find you and pound you. But, hopefully these will help you begin to see where you can encourage and challenge your group as they follow Jesus. The way I use these is this: look first for ways to encourage your group members in these. Usually that works best.

 ·        Their prayer lives – First, do they pray? Is prayer a 15 second dinner ritual or an intrinsic part of their daily lives? Do they pray in your small group gatherings? Do they ask you to pray for them or if they can pray for you? Basically, do they actually believe prayer to be the powerful, necessary means of communing with God or is it a unfamiliar religious practice? If they do pray, do they pray only in the form of requests for the needs of the immediate (ie, family illness or final exam) or do you hear them seeking the glory of God in their prayers? Do they praise God in their prayers? Use scripture in their prayers? For a great message from our pastor on this topic, click here.

·        Their Bible lives – The scriptures are the inspired word of God. Not you, a pastor, or anyone else can claim that. Do they love the bible? Are they regularly contributing to your group’s bible study? Do they see reading the bible as a checklist task or a life necessity equal to breathing (recognize that people go through times where it may feel like a task, but do they know and believe it to be more than that)? Are they familiar with their bibles (ex: what is in the OT & NT)? Is the bible a well-worn in tool on their belt or decorative bookshelf art? *Helping people grow to love their bibles will be the single greatest thing you do for anyone in your small group.*

·        Their ministry lives – Are they involved in service in the local church? Do they believe that to be a necessary part of their Christian life or a guilt-motivated job assignment? Do they like people? Seriously. I’m not asking if they are extroverted, but if they have a general care for the welfare of fellow Christians as well as non Christians. Do others around them in their lives know they are Christians? Not “do they wave big red Jesus signs in their office” but does the gospel influence their work ethic and the way they interact with those around them?

·        Their financial lives – UH OH! The big scary one right? Listen, this one is easy, but must be approached with grace and humility (and don’t single out an individual on this during group time). Jesus very shrewdly pointed out (Matt 6 & Luke 12) that what you do with your money is an indicator of what you value. Do the people in your group value Jesus and therefore give of their money to the local church as an expression of that? Do they enjoy it if they do? For a great recent message on this here at the Summit, click here.

Again, these are not exhaustive and can be used wrongly if not done with humility and grace. For a full treatise on these and other spiritual disciplines, check out Donald Whitney’s Spiritual Disciplines. It’s a great book for small groups to work through.


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