It can’t be stressed enough that spiritual growth is…well…spiritual and not a natural process we can tangibly observe, label and manipulate. But we see in scripture some principles of growth that help us peek behind the curtain of divine activity. Here’s one way to illustrate the disciple making growth process:
We often discover or are given new growth areas that challenge us. It’s helpful to create a benchmark of our understanding and obedience in those areas. We then need to make some important connections that God uses to grow us. God transforms us through this process which results in new rhythms in our life. Finally we re-assess so we can celebrate what God done and move on to a new growth area.
Every time we encounter a new growth area like a spiritual discipline we are trying to strengthen or an idol’s influence we are trying to weaken, we should start a process like the one pictured above and described below.
Take an early assessment of “knowledge of” and “attitude towards” each growth area before you start. It may feel a bit tedious or formal but it will create a benchmark that will help you record progress and hopefully lead to celebrating growth. Just like journaling helps us record where we are spiritually in different seasons, assessments and reassessments act as a relational journal between disciple makers and the people they’re working with. You can ask these questions yourself when you get together but make sure to keep a record of their answers to use later.
There are FOUR VITAL CONNECTIONS to be made to help someone work through a new growth area:
As the person you’re working with makes and deepens these life-giving connections, you should start to see some transformation in them. Authentic, Christ-driven transformation will show itself in new rhythms of life like new ways of thinking, feeling and acting. In a beautiful way, those new rhythms push us further into more transformation as a part of our growth. As a disciple maker, not only will it thrill you internally to see this growth in the person you’re working with but you should affirm it and “fan it to flame.”
It helps if you know what kind of transformation to look for. Answer these questions to help you find it:
Don’t skip that last question! You can accidentally train them that the gospel is only behavior modification when we know it is more identity change that leads to new behaviors.
A re-assessment process after a set period of time will either allow us to see the growth in a particular area, celebrate it, and point us toward a new growth area or it will help us stay put till God is done working with us.
It’s important to keep someone’s initial assessment handy so that you can measure (and celebrate growth). Ask the same questions as before. Review the the answers they gave in their first assessment together. See what has changed.
IF THERE HAS BEEN ANY GROWTH, TAKE TIME TO CELEBRATE!!! Even the most smallest steps forward show that God is working and you’re enthusiasm in regards to it will be contagious. Whether it is a special dinner, a personalized Certificate Of Achievement or a warm hug, take time to celebrate.
After celebrating, go tackle a new growth area together.