One of the most basic commands - and perhaps one of the greatest privileges we have - from Christ is that we "make disciples." In Transformational Church, the book I coauthored with Thom Rainer, our research revealed the need to change the scorecard of how a church measures success. The numbers of people converted, attending, serving and giving are still important and should be measured, but we must value the measurements that include changed lives, missional engagement and leadership development. In a sense, we need an expanded scorecard.
In the Transformational Discipleship research project, Protestant church attendees across North America were asked about their spiritual development. The purpose was to identify the issues that facilitated their spiritual maturity and to measure how that maturity happened. Church leaders, more specifically pastors, were interviewed as well. The view gained from pastors is they believe transformational discipleship is taking place but had few ways to measure it. After reviewing the research, let me suggest three steps to help in the process of transformational discipleship.
First, leaders must objectively assess discipleship in their church. Some may think this to be unspiritual. But, as I've said often, facts are our friends. Before a growth plan can be plotted, you must first know where your people are in their spiritual development.
Second, your course for growth must be based on an informed view of discipleship. Start with a biblical portrait of a healthy disciple and plan for growth. Yes, you read that right, plan for growth. Too many leaders are satisfied with maintenance mode. They don't want to rock the boat. As we stated in Transformational Church, a church should not be like a carousel with bright lights and upbeat music with people moving but no one going anywhere. A church is called to make disciples, not promote complacency.
Finally, lead by taking people with you. I would challenge church leaders to be the first in line to measure their own spiritual maturity by some objective measures. From the Transformational Discipleship research, eight attributes of discipleship were discovered that diagnose where you stand in spiritual maturity. Consider taking the Transformational Discipleship Assessment and ask some key leaders to do it with you. Use it as a time for personal development in your faith and developing a sense of what is next in the future of your church.