So, #1: attend church regularly. #2: receive Christ.
What you’ll quickly discover is that you have many spiritual growth steps you’ve been taking for granted. This exercise will make you feel great about your church.
Once you’ve listed everything from attend church to lead someone else to Christ and disciple them into a mature believer, take your list and divide it into three phases.
3. Divide your growth steps into phases.
Nobody takes leaps; they only take steps. And it’s helpful if your steps are divided into phases, because that, too, seems more manageable.
I call our three phases: New Believer; Maturing Believer; Mature Believer. Or: 100 Level; 200 Level; 300 Level.
The key question when dividing spiritual progress into phases is: Where does one phase end and a new phase begin?
Our 100 level focuses on new believers. We don’t expect them to feed themselves. “Just show up” we say, “and we’ll feed you.”
Our 200 level focuses on maturing believers. We tell them, “It’s time to assume responsibility for your own spiritual growth. Set your own alarm clock so you can get up in the morning. Put your own spoon in your mouth so you can get proper nutrients.”
Our 300 level focuses on what you might call “mature” believers, although none of us will ever truly be mature. We tell them, “You should be helping others grow in their relationship with Jesus.”
I think there should only be a few things in phase one, so that the new believer who follows your path is quickly encouraged that they are making progress.
4. Evaluate your phases to see if they are well-rounded.
Many of us believe that there are about five purposes for the church:
Is there something in each phase from this menu?
For instance, the first step you’ve asked of a new believer is to come to church. That’s worship.
Another step you’ve asked of them is to get into a one-on-one discipleship relationship. That could be both fellowship (at that stage) and discipleship.
I believe you should get new believers serving right away. So maybe you ought to add “serve somewhere in the church one time” to your 100 level.
And then, an evangelism step in the first phase probably should be “invite a friend to church.”
5. Get leadership buy in.
Loop in your staff and leadership board during the development phase to give them opportunity for input and buy in. Be sure they understand the biblical basis and the practical benefits of a spiritual growth process.
6. Get a graphic artist to design a professional-looking brochure.
Once you’ve sketched out your process, get a graphic artist to put a little checkbox in front of each of the items and design a brochure for them.
Congratulations, you just developed a spiritual growth path and process for your church!
Now it’s time to spread the word.
7. Preach a series on spiritual progress.
Preach a series on spiritual progress to launch your spiritual growth path. Challenge your congregation to take responsibility for their spiritual growth and teach them how they can be more intentional.
And preach a series about it annually. At New Song, we teach people about Next Steps twice a year.
When we preach about Next Steps, we include our brochure in the bulletin. During the application time we say, “Take your Next Steps Brochure out of your bulletin right now and open it up. You’ll notice that there is a little box next to each event and activity on the page. Check off all the things you’re doing or have already done. When you come to a box you can’t check off, that’s your Next Step.”