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Is Your Church Healthy? Part 1: Engaged

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Every week I have the opportunity to record a podcast, Making Disciples with Robby Gallaty, with Pastor Robby. When we record, we spend a few moments considering the content, and then we dive into the topic. We record this way because we want to deliver a high level of authenticity rather than a canned spiel. We also have a lot of fun trying to catch each other off guard with questions and comments, and this is a challenge we relish. Typically, all goes well, but on one occasion, I was not prepared. The podcast was focused on minimizing tech and social media to focus more on being a present and effective parent, spouse, co-worker and minister. Pastor Robby asked me a question about how we are so distracted by our use of tech. I didn’t catch the question because, ironically, I was scrolling through my phone looking for the ad content for the podcast. He was able to turn this moment into a perfect illustration in real-time. I was embarrassed but happy to contribute.

Is Your Church Healthy? Part 1: Engaged

What happened at that moment was that I was not engaged in the podcast conversation while simultaneously being engaged with something distracting—my phone. This is clearly an issue in our day-to-day lives filled with social media and constantly living “on.” There is also a way we can gauge the health of our church through engagement. Not attendance or involvement in our activities and programs, but engagement with the Word. As we have mentioned numerous times before, according to a decade of research, Lifeway determined that Bible engagement is the primary indicator of spiritual growth.

I don’t know many people who push back on this research, but many have asked, “What is Bible engagement?” This is an important question. Gauging the health of your church will depend upon your understanding of what Bible engagement means. First of all, Bible engagement is not merely Bible reading. And yet, we must not make engagement out to be so complicated that no one understands how to do it. Bible engagement is reading and then acting upon what you have read; it is the combination of intake and outflow. We cannot claim to have engaged in God’s Word if we have simply read words on a page. But Bible engagement certainly starts with that consistent habit.

So how do you know if your people are engaging with God’s Word? It is easier to gauge attendance, or perhaps, ask people to raise a hand if they have been reading. But can we truly gauge effectiveness without a process in place to hold our people accountable? The difficult truth about gauging the health of your church is that there must be an effective process that provides a track for accountability. Sadly, most churches do not have this track. At Replicate, we believe the best method for high accountability is through discipleship groups. This is where we can really see engagement take place. And because it is a process, we can gauge the outcome. Whether or not you have discipleship groups, you can assess Bible engagement. By examining your group’s (Sunday school, home groups, etc.) ministry, you can create some lead measures to drive Bible engagement and then assess these measures. For example, you may begin asking your group leaders to have the group discuss what they have read the previous week and how they have applied it to their lives. This simple question will help your leaders determine how engaged your people are in the Word. While this is a simple step, it will help you begin to think about effectively equipping your people to engage the Word.

When we ask whether or not our church is healthy, we must determine if our people are engaging with God’s Word. Since Bible engagement is the primary determinant of whether or not our people are growing spiritually, it is of utmost importance that we get this right. Think of some lead measures, implement discipleship groups, and/or determine ways you can help your people engage with God’s Word to become a more healthy church.

This article originally appeared here.