It’s true for people, and it’s true and for churches: the passing of time does not guarantee the development of maturity.
When it comes to church growth, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of measuring only numeric growth or decline. But even if a church is exploding numerically, if there is not real spiritual maturity taking place in the lives of its members, the numeric growth will be short lived.
To be sure, numeric growth can be an indication of spiritual health in a church. But that is only true when there are accompanying indicators of spiritual health.
For instance, a spiritually-healthy church will be a gospel-sharing church. But the fruit of that witness may or may not be immediately apparent in the season you are measuring. Many of us who serve as pastors have seen numeric challenges due to Covid over these past two years, even while seeing spiritual growth within our congregations.
So if neither time nor attendance are standalone measures of growth, what are some of the other ways we can measure it?
Recently, while reading Warren Wiersbe’s book, 10 Power Principles for Christian Service, I came across the following list of questions. Wiersbe introduces them with the disclaimer that they are “a simple checklist for the pastor—not inspired or inerrant—that can help him evaluate his own ministry and the progress of the church.”
If you’re a pastor, perhaps these questions will be a help to you as you prayerfully lead Christ’s flock toward maturity.
If you’re not a pastor, perhaps these questions will point out a blind spot in your own process of maturing and encourage you to continue forward in personal spiritual growth.
After all, one of the purposes for the local church is the “perfecting [maturing] of the saints.”
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (Ephesians 4:11–12)
With these thoughts in mind, I share these thought-provoking questions with you:
- Are the people discovering and developing their spiritual gifts?
- Is there a place of ministry for everybody and are more people getting involved?
- Am I working myself out of jobs or taking on more than I can handle?
- Are we more and more going to the Bible for guidance and less and less to the church constitution, rules and regulations, and church tradition?
- Are we all becoming more like Jesus Christ as the Spirit teaches us from the Word?
- Is God meeting our needs in answer to prayer?
- Am I ministering by faith, or do I “scheme” to get things done?
- Is there a growing sense of unity and mutual concern in the fellowship? Are people spontaneously caring for each other?
- Have we courageously scrapped some “dead ministries” and started some new ones, or are we monitoring conformity?
- Do we have our own distinctive ministry or are we slavishly imitating other churches? Is our church a blessing to other churches?
- Are people amazed at what’s happening and does God get the glory?
- Is the church family a witnessing community outside the walls of the church?
- Are we sailing in unchartered waters to share the gospel with new people or aimlessly fishing in the same puddles with the same bait?
- Do the people have a healthy appetite for the Word, and are we all happy to move into new “pastures” in Scripture? Am I riding my hobbies in my preaching?
- Does the church have more opportunities than it has workers? Do we pray for God to raise up laborers?
- Is the Lord calling people out of our fellowship to serve him elsewhere, and is the church family happy to send them and support them?
- Is the Lord giving us new ideas and new challenges? Do we test them by Scripture and then courageously obey him?
- Are the problems we face less and less personality-centered and more and more ministry-centered?