Groups and Growth: Measurable Metrics

Monday’s posts are excerpts taken from books I recommend on groups ministry in the church. Today’s excerpt comes from a book by David Francis and Rick Howerton. The book, Countdown: Launching and Leading Transformational Groups is a good one to have in your library. Follow the link here to get a free digital copy. You can also order a paperback copy if you’d prefer…just click here.

Here is what David and Rick want us to know about the importance of funneling people into a Bible study group. This should be “job 1” for reasons that will soon become apparent! Here in their own words are what David and Rick have to say about groups, growth, and measurable metrics:

Participation in groups serves as a proxy measurement of spiritual growth. It is not foolproof. But generally, a person who regularly participates in a small group as well as worship is probably maturing more than the person who just attends worship. A person who serves on a ministry team is probably maturing still more. Someone who participates in worship, a small group, a ministry team, and also commits to a ddeeper short-term group a couple of times a year is probably further along still. And a person who takes the next step by going on a mission trip evidences the strongest indicators of spiritual growth.

But could you actually measure spiritual growth? Brad Waggoner, inaugural leader of LifeWay Research, identified 21 functional characteristics of a disciple and categorized them into 7 domains, and created a Spiritual Formations Inventory. A sample of 2,500 Protestants participated in the survey. After year 2, the top three predictors of year-to-year spiritual growth were not surprising:

  • Regularly reading the Bible and other Christian literature
  • Regular church attendance
  • Regular involvement in or leadership of a small group, Sunday School class, etc.

I’ve read the research. Some other exciting findings are that people who attend a group are more likely to give more, serve more, volunteer more, and use their spiritual gifts more than people who only attend worship. Those are some pretty good reasons to intentionally funnel people into groups!


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