Recently in a group meeting I had a discussion with other Small Group Pastors regarding what they measure and how they measure “success” in their small group ministry. Some good conversation took place and several interesting ideas were shared. Here are some thoughts to consider.
So what should we measure? How do we, as church leaders, create pathways that lead people to genuine life-change without puffing them up, burning them out, and aiming them in the wrong direction? I’ll answer this question by focusing on two types of measurables: objectives and doorposts.
Objectives are easy-to-measure goals that embody what we would like people to aim for and accomplish. Objectives give us an idea of where disciples are going.
Spiritual growth objectives should be holistic. Spiritual growth is so much more than church attendance, group attendance, and Bible study. Spiritual growth goals should encompass the life of a disciple rather than just one or two aspects of a disciple’s life. For example, Financial Peace University (FPU) is a great discipleship tool. FPU, by Dave Ramsey, is a class that teaches biblical personal finance. Through Ramsey’s teachings we can measure the number of people in our church who are learning how to conquer debt, live on a budget, plan for the future, and become generous givers. However, if FPU were our only discipleship tool, it would not be enough. We must create discipleship plans that address many aspects of people’s lives.
Craig Groeschel, the senior pastor of Edmond, Oklahoma’s LifeChurch.tv wrote a book called Chazown. In it he breaks down discipleship into five key areas: physical life, relationships with people, relationship with God, work life, and financial life. I love the way pastor Groeschel thinks about spiritual growth: it’s all-encompassing. You can’t grow to wholeness in Christ by being a good steward yet still being a negative, bitter, complainer or by being a good friend yet a lazy employee. Holistic thinking in spiritual growth is key.
Small-group leaders should continually remind group members that becoming like Christ is an all-encompassing endeavor. A great way to do this is to embrace a more holistic approach to group life. Don’t just study the Bible and pray together. These are essential practices, but they don’t cover other aspects of spiritual growth. Do mission projects together. Eat healthy foods together. Exercise together. Play together. Spend time with one another’s families. Hold one another financially accountable. This may sound like a lot, but it’s really not. Don’t try to do it all in a month, but plan to do these things together over the long haul. The point here is simple: people learn best by doing. Do spiritual growth together rather than just talking and praying about it.
Spiritual growth objectives should be realistic. The goals you set for people should fit into real life.
Spiritual growth objectives should be systematic. I heard Andy Stanley say, “Systems create behaviors,” and that statement has stuck with me. If I want to lead people to adopt certain behaviors, I must create systems that lead them to those behaviors.
Objectives represent the “front end” of spiritual development. Doorposts, on the other hand, represent the hindsight of spiritual development. They are the points we refer back to in order to tell others, and remind ourselves, how God has changed us.
The term “doorposts” comes from the Hebrew word mezuzah. In Deuteronomy 6:9 God commanded Israel to attach his commands to the doorposts of their homes. The point of hanging the commands on the doorposts was to remind God’s people of what he had done for them and what he expected of them. In today’s busy world, we need reminders like this more than ever.
A doorpost is different from an objective because an objective has a definitive end.
A mezuzah or doorpost is not something that is achievable; rather, it is something that reminds us of a previous achievement. Like a literal doorpost in your home, this figurative doorpost is something you encounter every day that regularly reminds you of what was while simultaneously inspiring you with what could be.
What if our lives were full of spiritual doorposts? How might the people you lead be different if they were surrounded by reminders of previous spiritual growth achievements while simultaneously being inspired to go even further?
For Group leaders reading this blogpost, I would like you to contemplate the overall concept of using objectives and doorposts. Share your thoughts, ideas, suggestions under comments!