Results from the Spiritual Growth Assessment

So how did the Spiritual Growth Assessment go?

As a way to assess our spiritual health as a church, back on July 21 the pastors sent out a 25-question assessment related to key areas in the Christian life. The primary purpose of the assessment was to aid the pastors and staff in how we can best serve our church. We’ve since reviewed the results and noted important trends, and I’d like to share some of them with you.

Let me first mention a few disclaimers …

1) There is a mixture of negative and positive aspects in the results. I have chosen to “lean into” the discouraging parts, but to “land on” the encouraging parts. This means that as I’m sharing the results with you, my aim is to stir you up to love and good works as those compelled by the love of Christ (see Hebrews 10:24; 2 Corinthians 5:14).

2) Only 151 of you took the assessment, which is not even half of our membership. This means that the results are, at best, partially informative, but they are not conclusive by any means — not unless we assume the worst about the majority of our members who did not take the assessment. And there is good reason not to assume the worst, mostly because “love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7).

3) The most enduring part of the assessment, in my opinion, is the principle of it. We want to be a church that cares about one another’s spiritual health, and about our health corporately. Our mission is make disciples of Jesus, and that means becoming mature disciples of Jesus (see Colossians 1:28). 

So here we go …

Topics and Types

The questions ranged between various topics and types. The four topics were 1) Worship and Community; 2) Suffering and Faith; 3) Evangelism and Giving; or 4) Bible and Obedience. They were presented in three types: 1) Personal assessment; 2) Doctrinal conviction; or 3) Observable practice.

For example, question 4 was: “I make attending worship with God’s people on Sundays a high priority.” That question is in the topic of Worship and Community, and it’s a personal assessment type. The idea is to learn how you perceive the way you value corporate worship. 

Compare this to another Worship and Community question, Question 24: “I usually attend corporate worship at least three of four Sundays each month.” This question is an observable practice type, which means it’s more objective. Either you attend worship regularly or you don’t, whether or not you consider yourself to value it. 

One encouraging sign in the results is that the Personal assessment types and Observable practice types scored the same way. In other words, how we perceive ourselves is not at odds with what is objective. High five, everybody!

Highest and Lowest

The scale ranged from 0% (Rarely) to 50% (Sometimes) to 100% (Always). Each of the questions were asked positively, with means the higher the percentage signifies a higher affirmation. 

The highest scores:

    • 99% — I believe that only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God’s free gift of eternal life.

    • 99% — I believe the Bible is the written Word of God and is true in all that it teaches.

    • 93% — I make attending worship with God’s people on Sundays a high priority.

The lowest scores:

    • 53% — I am eager to invite my non-Christian friends to our Sunday morning services.

    • 60% — I intentionally spend time building friendships with non-Christians for the purpose of sharing Jesus with them.

    • 71% — If someone was able to view my spending habits, they would see a life of generous giving and sacrificial living.

Overall, by category:

  • Worship and Community — 85%

  • Suffering and Faith — 92%

  • Evangelism and Giving — 75%

  • Bible and Obedience — 88%

Areas of Growth

According to these numbers, we “always” believe that Jesus is the only way to be saved (99%), but we only “sometimes” build relationships in order to share the gospel (60%). It would appear that we are stronger in our doctrinal convictions than we are in evangelism — which you’d probably agree is true if you been around our church for a while. This is an unsurprising area of growth for us, and there are some deliberate things we want to do (and need to do) as a church to increase our faithfulness in sharing the gospel, including training on how to share the gospel effectively. 

The lowest score pertained to inviting non-Christians to our worship services. We averaged in the “Sometimes” range, but there were several responses that marked zero. In other words, there is a considerable number of members who stated they are rarely eager to invite non-Christian friends to our Sunday services. This may be partially due to a lack of non-Christians friends (there is a correlation here to Question 6 about building relationships with non-Christians), but it’s worth investigating more. Many who state that they build relationships with non-Christians also state that they are “Sometimes to Rarely” eager to invite them to our Sunday gatherings. One could speculate the particular reasons for this, but either way it underscores the importance of making the gospel clear in every service, and of becoming a people who welcome guests really well. There is fresh movement for growth in this area, led by our newest staff member, Kenny Ortiz.

Noteworthy Comparisons

We scored 99% on “believing the Bible is the written Word of God and is true in all that it teaches.” And then 87% of those assessed personally read the Bible at least a few times a week (that’s including 36% would read the Bible everyday). 

We scored 80% on “I have several Christian friends who regularly keep them accountable” and then 87% on “I try to share about difficulties they experience when they talk with close friends.” Now it’s hard to say what accounts for that 7% difference in the two questions, but likely it’s the qualifiers of “several” and “regularly” in the former question. Friends who “regularly” keep us accountable require a caliber of friendship that only a few will meet, not several (it’s a poorly worded question — I’m sorry about that).

At the same time, it’s very encouraging that we scored 87% on sharing difficulties we experience. According to the assessment, no one expressed that they are living in isolation, but that we are all trying to walk in the light (see 1 John 1:7). Now add to this that we scored 95% on “I believe God will continue to sustain my faith even in the midst of trials.” 

There’s an important connection between these numbers: it’s that one of the primary means through which God sustains our faith through trials is through gospel community.

The assessment shows that our personal assessment of God’s persevering grace in our lives parallels our value in Christian community. That connection isn’t obvious, so I’m making it here. If you will endure as a Christian, you won’t endure alone. Continue to open your lives and be known.

Conclusion

In several of the questions, we trend towards a gap between conviction and practice. This is not uncommon for humans, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay, and a central aim in discipleship is to close the gap! I want to give my life in helping you close that gap. I want to grow personally, and I want our church to grow corporately, in gospel congruence. To be steady. Solid. Healthy. To live in peace, or as it’s put in Hebrew, shalom. Wholeness.

A few weeks back, I sat across from a friend at a coffee shop to catch up, and in the course of the conversation he commented to me that he wants me to be “whole.” It was a passing remark, in one sense, but my heart embraced it with great affection. “Dear God,” I whispered silently, “That’s exactly what I want.” And I figured: if I am so blessed as to have someone want that for me, what better way can I bless Cities Church than to want that for all of us? So I do.

We will be whole.

. . . until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:13)