The Numbers Game

MegaChurchAuditoriumOne of the greatest challenges for today’s churches is to monitor and evaluate the spiritual health of our congregants. This is especially difficult for churches with an weekly attendance over 150.

See! I did it already! I started talking about numbers. Accurate numbers can tell part of the story of what is happening in a congregation, but Spiritual health isn’t really about numbers.

Now don’t get me wrong, the numbers in my checking account say a lot about my priorities. The number of times when I missed church or a  chapel service during seminary says something. The number of hours I have spent sharing God’s love with others or reading His word should indicate… something, right?

In my previous ministry role, I was a part of the organization’s primary leadership team. As the department leaders sat around a big table and attempted to evaluate where we were needing to improve and where we saw success, the debate always came back around to measuring spiritual growth. “It can’t be done. It depends on the individual. That’s really private information and I don’t think we should be asking that…” It’s an honest, real dilemma.

However I don’t agree that spiritual growth and discipleship can’t be measured. John Wesley looked at discipleship (being a disciple who will make more disciples) by asking “How does your soul prosper?” Today, we might say, “How is your spiritual life?” Those are words to be spoken in love.

Me and J-Dub (John Wesley) hanging out on the Asbury Theo. Sem. campus.
Me and J-Dub (John Wesley) hanging out on the Asbury Theo. Sem. campus.

In Philippians 3 Paul talks about pressing on toward the goal, “I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me” (Phil. 3:12, NLT). John Wesley would call this perfection “holy love.” While we pursue God’s plan for our lives and await our entire sanctification (when we stand face to face with our Creator), we should see less and less sin and more and more love filling our heart and motivating our actions. That’s the true measure of our spiritual health.

So what is your spiritual goal? Sure, it’s great to try to be at worship for 26 consecutive weeks, or to read through 17 books of the Bible. But remember that the goal is “holy love.” Let’s work together to give everything we have to pursue Christ and the love that first loved us. As you do keep looking above and loving beyond.SignJRGBlack300

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