Analysing Your Minimum Factor: Passionate Spirituality
The purpose of this series is to offer some basic “entry points” for beginning to explore your Minimum Factor graph.
This post is for those whose Minimum Factor is Passionate Spirituality.
Two initial points need to be made.
First, all the questions relate to the degree to which the spirituality of the church is marked by a passion which Christian Schwarz defines as ‘the degree to which faith is actually lived out with commitment, passion and enthusiasm’. (Care must be taken not to equate being passionate with a particular style of worship.) The higher a question’s result, the greater its contribution to the spirituality of the church being passionate.
Secondly, the questions are included in the survey because it has been shown to high degree of accuracy in international statistical terms that they distinguish healthy growing churches from those in decline. In effect, churches attracting higher scores for these questions are more likely to be growing, and vice versa. Not liking the questions, or thinking other questions would be better, in no way detracts from those appearing on the graph.
1. “God with us”
Q71 – I experience God’s work in my life
Q42 – I experience the transforming influences faith has in the different areas of my life (profession, family, spare time, etc.)
Q41 – I often tell other Christians when I have experienced something from God
The questions progress from general experience to a transformational faith and onto sharing that with others in the church. Experiencing God in ways which are seen as relevant to daily life and help transform the believer is the bedrock of testimony. If this is not happening, there is nothing to share.
It is possible that people are experiencing God at work in their lives in transformational ways but the culture of the church doesn’t sanction the sharing of such experiences, let alone encourage it. If people aren’t hearing regularly about God being amongst them, don’t be surprised if they conclude He isn’t.
Q77 – Times of prayer are an inspiring experience for me
Q29 – I know that other church members pray for me regularly
This goes beyond emphasizing the mechanics of spiritual disciplines to the need for churches to encourage a vibrant, relevant and engaging prayer life. It recognises the centrality of prayer to the spiritual growth of individuals and from that the healthy growth of the church.
Also, Q29 implies it is not just that people are aware they are being prayed for but that they recognise the difference prayer makes; that relationships are such that substantive issues are being prayed for; and people are checking with each other regarding answers to prayer.
Q84 – I enjoy reading the Bible on my own
Q72 – The Bible is a powerful guide for me in the decisions of everyday life
Intra-denominational discussions on the relationship between the laity and the Bible are multitudinous and complex. In terms of what distinguishes healthy growing churches from those in decline, the foundations of that relationship are actually quite simple.
People engaging individually with the Bible regularly is essential for their spiritual growth and therefore the church’s. By implication, it is insufficient to believe that the Bible need only be mediated through the worship service (e.g. through preaching or the liturgy).
Reading the Bible needs to be enjoyable. Simply pushing “spiritual disciplines” is inadequate; church leaders must wrestle with how to make engaging with the Bible more attractive.
I’ve encountered a tendency by some people to interpret Q72 through a narrow “filter”. It is not about consulting the Bible for instructions on every decision every day but whether biblical principles form a strong foundation for daily life, i.e. providing a framework for how people live their lives and grow in faith.
If people do not regard the Bible as relevant to their daily lives or view it as inaccessible, it ceases to be an instrument through which God speaks to them. It is one of the major issues church leaders face as the pace of change in the world impacts how people live their lives.
4. Belief in the future arises out of perceptions of the present
Q52 – I am enthusiastic about our church
Q68 – I firmly believe that God will act even more powerfully in our church in coming years
Most people form a view about their church’s future based on current experience and perceptions. High passion now likely results in a high belief in the church’s future.
Note Q68’s focus on belief about God at work in the church. This recognises that at the core of passionate spirituality is a clear understanding of the nature of God and His purposes, particularly as they relate to the Church. It is sobering that low passion is likely to result in a changed view of God Himself.
5. Spiritual leadership
Q74 – Our leaders are spiritual examples to me
When debriefing leaders I always ask two questions: (1) What spiritual example are you setting? (2) What spiritual example do you want to set?
It has been said that people make up their minds about leadership based 70% on what they see and 30% on what they hear, and hopefully “the video matches the audio”. It happens whether leaders like it or not. If you don’t know what spiritual example you’re setting, you should find out. Leaders need to be proactive in becoming effective spiritual role models.