No matter how hard I resist the gravitational pull, a casual Saturday stroll through the local farmer’s market captivates me.
I begin with the intention to simply peek around the market and talk with the local vendors, but I’m quickly pulled in by the variety of homemade shortbreads, muffins, gluten-free cookies, miniature pies and loaves of every flavor of bread imaginable.
As I make my way around the market, it never fails that someone will ask a vendor, “What is your special ingredient?”
It seems the more important question is, “What ingredients must I use?”
First of all, no baker is going to reveal their secret ingredient.
Second, if I can get the essential ingredients right, I can get creative and try all sorts of variations until I come up with my own special recipe.
To make a connection into the life of the church, there are things recently discovered about what is most catalytic in helping people grow spiritually. For church leaders, this is our aim, right?! We want to faithfully carry out The Great Commission.
Instead of starting from scratch, I suggest we lean into research that helps us understand what people need to learn and experience at each stage of their faith journey.
This is exactly what the REVEAL study has helped me understand. The REVEAL team studied tens of thousands of individuals and discovered the most catalytic beliefs, practices and experiences that help people move from one stage of maturity toward the next, and closer to Christ-centered living.
Personally, when I was a part of designing weekly services, we often planned according to the season, or hot topic, or annual event. Especially early on in my years of ministry, we rarely looked at the spiritual maturity of our group and then planned a year of content according to what people needed.
We definitely sought God in the process, and I believe the Holy Spirit met us there, but we weren’t always so informed or strategic.
When it comes to your weekly gathering, it is important to ask:
Where is your congregation in their faith journey?
What are you providing that will be most catalytic for their growth?
Here is an example. Let’s say 40 percent of your congregation is just beginning to check out the faith and would fall in the category of Exploring in Christ.