Upward, inward, outward growth

Yesterday I suggested, based on Ephesians 4, that leaders should be helping church members grow in three ways:

  1. Growing in service
  2. Increasing in unity
  3. Becoming like God

Inverting the order, we can say that we should be growing upward, inward, and outward. (wording I’ve lifted from Breen’s Building A Discipling Culture) As a leader, I hope to see the following things from church members:

  • Upward growth through shared worship times. The basic part of this is attendance; are members coming to worship? But I also look for engagement… are members active participants in worship? Obviously, the public assembly is not the only place we grow in our relationship with God. In fact, I’d argue it’s more of a reflection of our growth in that area. But as a leader, that’s the most easily observable sign of engagement with God.
  • Inward growth through smaller groups. These groups can take many forms: a Bible class, a group meeting in a home, a sports team. But everyone needs to be involved in some group where there is opportunity for:
    • Personal engagement
    • Accountability
    • Confession
  • Outward growth through service. Everyone needs a way to serve, a ministry that leads them to interact with others. Ideally, this ministry will take place outside of the church building and outside of scheduled assembly times! As we saw in Ephesians 4, we’ve all been given “grace” (gifts/ministries), and the body will only effectively grow when everyone is preforming their role.

While I don’t really expect this growth to be linear, I do think it helps to think of this as a progression. Initially, I want to move members to be engaged in corporate worship. Then I want to help them connect to a smaller group. As they grow, I hope to help them discover a way to serve that fits their talents and the needs around them. As people thrive in ministry, their connectedness to one another will tend to grow, as will their relationship with God. Each of the three areas feeds off of the others and feeds the others.

That’s all theory. Now I need to learn to live it. What tweaks would you make to the structure above? What suggestions do you have for implementing the theory?

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