Measuring Spiritual Growth

Part of my shiny new gym membership is a session with a personal trainer, to gauge where I'm at as I begin a fitness program. He took a lot of measurements and ran me through a practice workout. Right now, I am tired and sore.

Without those numbers, the trainer would not be able to either plan out the exercises that will work best for me, or track my progress. I might end up hurting myself by taking on too much, or not performing to my full potential because I would stop before I reached my real limits.

This made me think about the way we measure spiritual growth in our students. In fact, do any of us track where our students are spiritually when they enter our program? Do we then use those notes to measure how they grow before we send them on, to the next ministry or to the real world? Do we use those findings to help us plan our program and set goals for our teaching?

It doesn't have to be a "PERMANENT RECORD" type thing that we'll all end up scared of, but I think it would be useful to say "by this time next year, my students will know X,Y,andZ about Christ-- they will be able to recall Q number of verses from their life passage of the Scriptures, and they will have been exposed to this many ideas and chances to put them into action."

Keeping track of spiritual growth will definitely take time. I'm not sure it's worth doing if we aren't committed to a long-term ministry, because the minister after me will have different ideas of what he/she wants to teach. To start out, I think we should track these areas:

Worship attendance
Daily Bible reading
Service projects leading to a service lifestyle

We should gather these data one-on-one with our students and keep the files private. We're not doing it to identify superstars, just to help fine-tune our ministries to meet our students where they need us to be. And we should not track things like prayer life or fasting, disciplines Jesus told us to keep private. By recording spiritual growth and spiritual discipline, we help our students by training them to be accountable. We also help ourselves as ministers by actively finding out where our teaching is doing well and where we need a little more push.

And by all means, we need to track our own growth. Let's not forget that it's near-impossible to teach what we aren't learning.

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