Activity no guide to growth

Michael Kellahan
September 28th, 2011

 

How are people expected to grow as Christians? For most churches, members are encouraged to attend Sunday meetings and be part of a small group. That’s the main game. Turn up regularly on Sunday and Wednesday night and you’ll grow. We might also talk about the place of giving, serving, and witnessing. The more active someone is at church the more they’ll grow, right? If we get someone regularly to church and small group we should take that as a win, right?

Wrong. The National Church Life Survey data shows no correlation between being part of a small group and feelings of spiritual growth. These finding match that of Willow Creek Association Reveal study http://www.revealnow.com/ which showed that church activity is not a blueprint for spiritual growth.

The NCLS data showed a strong correlation between personal bible reading and prayer and spiritual growth. Humanly speaking the thing that makes the biggest difference to spiritual growth is pretty simple. Setting aside a regular time each day to read and think about God’s word, and to spend time in prayer, seems to be the power-house of spiritual life and growth.

So if we want to see spiritual growth in our churches we should really encourage personal quiet times. There are 95 days left in 2011. How could you help raise the number of people committed to regular quiet times in 2012? Here are some ideas…

  1. Pray for it now and share this vision with a few key leaders
  2. plan to use the power of the Calendar and New Years commitment to push for a big take-up in January.
  3. Research some resources to help people with quiet times – will you write them or buy someone elses? Can bible reading plans and prayer schedules be posted to the church website or emailed out to those taking it up? I’ve heard of some churches where the pastor uses bible reading notes to determine the preaching program (and not vica versa).
  4. Give quiet times a budget – plan to spend time and dollars on this
  5. Have a plan to promote quiet times. Get good testimonials from those already doing it. Explain and model it to those who have never done it. Confront the guilt and disappointment of those who’ve tried but failed before.
  6. Survey the congregation to see how many take it up. Can they be turned into ambassadors to recruit others?

These are all short term plans focused on next year. What makes a bigger difference though, is the slow personal work of those who practice quiet times year in and year out and model it to others.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.