First Steps in Using the Discipleship Dynamics Assessment™ in your Congregation
Thank you for your commitment to the Great Commission and Great Commandment of Jesus to “make disciples” (Mt. 28:18-20) that love God and their neighbor with grace and wisdom (Mt. 22:37-40; John 13). Thank you as well for leading your group through the Discipleship Dynamics Assessment ™ process and discovering the strengths and weaknesses of your group.
The members of your group each have detailed reports and you have the overall scores detailing the trends in your community. This is biblically grounded and empirically verified information found in no other resource. You can now target your discipleship goals and process to cultivate the strengths and improve and mature the areas that need growth.
Discipleship is a lifetime process, but we can measure progress. The author of Hebrews calls on his readers to get past infancy in their growth, building on core doctrines and disciplines (Heb. 5:11-6:3). The bible never separates spiritual maturity from emotional, relational and vocational maturity! In fact, the opposite is true as the Apostle Paul tells us that we are called to grow into the fullness of Christ personally and in community (Eph. 4:1-16).
OK, you have the data…what’s next?
- First, examine your community mission/vision statement and core values. What are some of the practical outcomes of the very words you publicly live by? The 5 Dimensions and 35 Outcomes (hereafter the 5/40) can fit within the aims you already have for your community or organization!
You are the chief storyteller of what God is doing in your church, school, community, mission agency, business – and your words are the language people will adopt to understand profound experiences with God and each other! No wonder James warned us about the responsibility of being teachers (James 3:1ff)!
If you have current vision, mission and value statements, insert the DD 5/35 within your categories.
Please note the recommended resources in the personal assessment. The DD website will be adding material each month for all the outcomes. There are so many great tools available – you and your team must hear from the Lord how best to utilize which tools.
- Second, look at your leadership dashboard, examine the group results and take note of which Dimensions and Outcomes are strongest and weakest. As you evaluate this, here are some first steps that will accelerate growth without ungodly exhaustion or huge upheaval:
- If you have ministries for growth in place, you can target particular outcomes for the coming months within these ministries and celebrate progress. This does not mean everything is a topical focus. Through studying particular books of the bible, some outcomes emerge naturally from the texts. Sunday School classes, small groups, Bible Studies and other gatherings can now have greater focus.
- Your sermon/teaching texts and topics can organically aim at particular outcomes that deserve attention. For example, if the community needs to grow in the area of Economics and Work, you can consider a sermon series that touch on these topics.
- Perhaps you have no systematic Discipleship Plan. There are many good curricula that touch on some of the areas of the DD. You can also use the 5/35 as a starting point for structure. Even children can understand the 5 Dimensions in their language:
- “I feel close to Jesus” (spiritual formation)
- “I am getting along with family and friends” (healthy relationships)
- “I feel good about my self” (personal wholeness)
- “I know what I am good at” (vocational clarity)
- “I do my [school, chores at home, volunteer, paid] work well and give to the Lord.” (Economics and Work)
- In addition to organized meetings, consider helping people learn to feed themselves. Create a book table, mention online resources, and encourage the entire community to read certain scriptures each week. In other words, create an exciting community conversation about the Holy Spirit’s work in your midst.
- Pray about developing mentors or nurturers that are mature enough to listen, pray and share wisdom with same-gender members of the community. The Assessment creates all kinds of great conversations! People who have taken the Assessment will want to talk to someone who is mature to process their results and help them to grow in Christ.
- Select 2-3 strengths and weaknesses from the group results for attention over the next 6-12 months so you can celebrate progress. We recommend waiting at least six months and your payment allows you to administer the Assessment three times in a calendar year.
- If your group improves in 4-6 areas in the next several months, chances are good that another 4-6 areas will improve as well. For example, if couples get more united on their family mission, they will probably manage finances and their negative emotions better. If prayer improves, so will many other personal and emotional outcomes. Perhaps folks will realize they can hear the Lord speak to them at work as well!
- Take time to pray and share with the leaders and mentors in your community. With God’s help you can avoid feeling either paralyzed or rushed as you seek to “keep in step with the Spirit” (Gal. 5).
How do we handle all this information? Can busy people remember all these Dimensions and Outcomes? No, they cannot. So what does a good leader do?
- Third, keep the 5 Dimensions in public focus while you work on specific outcomes. Integrate the outcomes into your community story and mission. DD is a snapshot, a resource, a catalyst to help you fulfill God’s calling. No book, curriculum or program is the answer to all the needs. Christ is our inexhaustible, overflowing resource (Col. 2:6-10). Leadership includes listening to God and the cries of the community – they are intertwined!
One day a young minister asked his senior how he decided what to preach to his congregation. The minister replied, “I seek the Lord in prayer. I meet with my leadership team and evaluate our health and mission. And I listen to the heart cries and prayers of our people.” Sage advice and a great way to use the Assessment results – they are a window into the life of the community.
- Fourth, we are praying that the Lord would stir the embers of revival and create an entire movement that promotes discipleship. From our side we want to promote such a movement by publishing blogs to our website and circulating them through the various social media. You can become a partner in promoting this movement by “sharing” our Discipleship Dynamics blogs and making comments on them. Every share exposes more people to the blog. Every time you make a comment you identify yourself (and your social media following) as promoters of discipleship. Just a few clicks and “likes” can make a world of difference!
We are grateful for your partnership in the Great commission and we welcome your feedback and insights as we continually improve the Assessment and add resources. If you have recommended resources (books, audio/video series, websites, etc.), please let us know. We will examine them and add them to our growing archive.
May our wonderful Lord encourage, equip and empower you for every good work!