Can You Really Measure Spiritual Growth?

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The end of the year is a natural time to evaluate the success (or lack thereof) of the past year and to set goals for the next year. However, many Small Group Point People struggle with exactly how to evaluate the ministry that has happened in the last year. But how can you measure the effectiveness of small groups. How do you know if people have grown spiritually? How do you know if small groups helped someone grow in love? How do you know if you are actually making disciples?

It is impossible to look at someone and know if they have experienced spiritual growth. However, it is not impossible to measure spiritual growth. The key to effectively evaluating small groups is to measure growth over time.

The first step to measuring spiritual growth is to identify what actions or results indicate spiritual growth. For example, if you went to the doctor and she wanted to check the condition of your heart, she would check your blood pressure, listen to your heart, maybe run a blood test or do an ECG.

The same principle is true when checking someone’s spiritual heart. So, what tests do you need to run to check the condition of a person’s spiritual heart?

Here are some questions to ask to get a picture of someone’s spiritual growth:

  • How often do you pray? (Possible answers: Multiple times a day, Every day, A couple of times a week, Once or twice a month, Less than once a month, Hardly ever).
  • How often do you read/study the Bible? (Possible answers: Multiple times a day, Every day, A couple of times a week, Once or twice a month, Less than once a month, Hardly ever).
  • How much do you give to the church or other charitable organizations? (Possible answers: I regularly give more than 10% of my income, I regularly give 10% of my income, I regularly give less than 10% of my income, I give regularly but don’t know how much, I don’t give regularly)
  • How often do you serve others without expecting anything in return? (Possible answers: Multiple times a day, Every day, A couple of times a week, Once or twice a month, Less than once a month, Hardly ever).
  • How often do you get together with your small group? (Possible answers: A couple of times a week, Once a week, Once or twice a month, Less than once a month, Hardly ever).
  • When was the last time you told someone outside your family about what Jesus is doing in your life? (Possible answers: This past week, This past month, Sometime in the last 3 months, Sometime in the last year, I can’t remember)

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I am sure there are many other questions you can think of. The questions will give you a snapshot of someone’s spiritual life. However, the key to measuring growth is to ask the same people the same questions over time.

If someone’s answer to the question “How often do you pray?” is less than once a month today, but in six months their answer is now once or twice a month, that is an indicator of spiritual growth and an improvement in the condition of their heart.

As you evaluate your small groups this past year and plan for next year, I want to encourage you to do two things.

1. Spend some time figuring out what are the indicators of someone’s spiritual heart.
2. Commit to asking questions about these indicators every six months for the next two years.

I am praying that this next year brings amazing spiritual growth for you and your small groups.