3 Ways We Measure Spiritual Growth

3 Ways We Measure Spiritual Growth

Aaron Buer

Digital giving apps and tools

Here’s a question: How spiritually mature is your congregation?

I imagine that we could get into quite a debate about this topic... What are the markers of spiritual growth? How do you measure spiritual growth? Should we even try to measure spiritual growth at all?


I believe we can measure spiritual growth and I believe we should. If we don’t, we won't know if our churches are being successful.

So, how do you measure spiritual growth? I think it depends on each congregation. And the good news is that you don’t have to measure your congregation the way we measure our congregation. The bad news is that you have to put in the hard work of defining what the markers for spiritual growth are for your particular congregation.

How do you do that? Well, you probably need to sit down with your team and start a debate on what spiritual growth looks like for your people within your particular context.

I’d love to give you a starting place for this conversation by sharing a few spiritual markers that we’ve established at our church. My hope is not that you would adopt our markers but that our markers would spark a helpful conversation within your leadership. So, here we go:

Markers of Growth

In our church, we’ve decided that the best markers of spiritual growth are engagement. The three types of engagement I’ll share don’t encompass everything we are trying to do but they do provide an overview of our spiritual formation philosophy.

1. Engagement in Environments of Discipleship

We believe that our people will grow spiritually when they engage in three environments of discipleship. We call them the row, the circle and the chair.


The row is our weekend service or the age appropriate equivalent. We believe that gathering together to worship and open the scriptures is a crucial component for spiritual growth.

The circle is our word for the small groups environment. We believe that intentional relationships are an essential ingredient for spiritual growth.

The chair is our word for personally pursing God through prayer, journaling and Bible reading. We believe this is also a necessary pursuit for spiritual growth.

These three environments are the backbone of our spiritual formation plan. We promote these environments constantly and we attempt to link them. In other words, in a perfect scenario, a person in our congregation attends the weekend service, participates in a small group that further explores the weekend content and then also uses a resource we provide called Beyond the Weekend, which is a personal devotional that is expands on the Scriptures we explored in the weekend service.

So, how do we measure spiritual growth? The primary way is through measuring engagement in the row, circle and chair. Quantitatively, what that looks like is:

  • We track weekend attendance numbers
  • We track the percentage of our attenders that are engaged in a small group
  • We track the percentage of our attenders that use our "Beyond the Weekend" resource (which helps people dive deeper into Sunday's message on an individual level)

Church management systems can go a long ways in helping make data like this easy to access.


While this isn’t a perfect way to measure, it does provide us with some tangible measurements of engagement.

2. Engagement in Serving and Giving

In addition to our three discipleship environments, we also believe that engagement in serving and giving are good indicators of spiritual growth. In other words, we believe that mature followers of Jesus serve and give systematically.

We emphasize structured serving and giving over spontaneous serving and giving. We want our people to build these practices into their lives.

To measure spiritual growth in these areas, we track the percent of our regular attenders that serve regularly within our church and the percent of our regular attenders who give regularly.


If you're using a church management system like Breeze, this type of information can be easily generated from searches and reports.

Again, this isn’t a perfect measurement but it gives us something meaningful to measure.

3. Engagement in Next Steps

The last marker I’ll share has to do with something we call next steps. This is a phrase that we use constantly. If you attend one of our weekend services, you’ll hear this phrase from the platform because we consistently invite our people to take a "next step" in their faith. One of the big ones we measure is baptism.

Obviously, different churches and denominations have different beliefs and practices regarding baptism so this next step may not work in your environment. For us, we practice adult baptism as an act of obedience to Jesus. So we encourage our congregation to take the next step of baptism. We measure the number of baptisms in a year as a measure of spiritual growth in our congregation.

So there you have it, a snapshot of our spiritual formation strategy. We’ve identified a few markers and we find ways to measure them.

Making It Happen

So, if you’re interested in developing something like this in your church, here are four steps to make it happen:

  1. Identify what you believe are markers for spiritual growth. Ours may not be the best for your context.
  2. Establish a baseline measurement. Once we established our markers, we collected data. For example, we established:
  3. Our number of regular attenders
  4. Percent of regular attenders in a small group
  5. Percent of regular attenders serving and giving
  6. Set goals for growth. After we established our baselines, we set goals. For example:
  7. By next year, we want to see our small group engagement growth from 60% to 70%
  8. By next year, we want to see our baptisms growth from 15 people to 25 people
  9. Create a strategy to accomplish your growth goals. Goals are great but without a strategy to reach them you probably won’t.

There you have it! It’s not perfect, but that’s a quick overview of some of the ways we measure spiritual growth in our church.

You’re welcome to steal, borrow or expand on any of our practices. Also, we’d love to hear how you promote and measure spiritual growth in your own church. I'd love to hear your ideas and processes in the comments below.

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