Transformational Groups: Creating a New Scorecard for Groups, by Ed Stetzer and Eric Geiger (Nashville: BH Publishing Group, 2014), pbk. 210 pp., $14.99.
How do we gauge the spiritual growth of a group? We could record attendance at meetings or grade the answers to workbook exercises (public schoolteachers do that every day), but we can’t measure the spiritual growth of a Christian group that way. Why not? Because spiritual growth changes a group’s behavior, just as it changes an individual’s behavior. We know growth is happening in a small group when we see more Christ-like attitudes, priorities, commitments, and relationships there. But try giving any group a grade or score on those things!
This is exactly what LifeWay Research is up to. The research service is an extension of LifeWay Publishing, the Southern Baptist publishing house, and it’s headed by Ed Stetzer, the volunteer pastor of a church in Nashville. LifeWay Research has conducted three major studies in the past decade to understand how Christians are discipled. They have now developed an online questionnaire that assesses the spiritual growth of an individual or group.
“Most scorecards start with purely numerical statistics, often in two categories: butts and baptisms,” Ed Stetzer writes (p. 151). “How many people are attending each week, making a decision for Christ, and choosing to be baptized?…
“These things matter, but they’re not the only things that matter. Once people make a decision for Christ, are they living changed lives and sharing Christ with their friends and neighbors?”
Transformational Groups concludes that Christian discipleship happens most reliably in small, intentional groups. Not too surprising. But it also finds that few pastors nurture or promote small-group ministries in their congregations because it would require a major shift in they way they “do church.”
“Our churches must shift from mere classroom to community, a community that learns and processes God’s Word together and encourages one another to live what they have learned,” Stetzer observes (p. 81). “Learning is not only knowledge gained; it is truth lived out in the context of and under the watch care of a community of Christ followers.”
Transformational Groups explains how the LifeWay researchers went about “creating a new scorecard for groups,” but it does not contain the scorecard itself. That’s at their website (http://tda.lifeway.com) and they charge a small fee to take it. The tool takes about 15 minutes to complete and it scores a group or individual on eight metrics of Christian discipleship. It produces a report with a good deal of practical detail: It reveals where you are spiritually weak, where you are strong, and how you can address your weaknesses in biblically sound ways. Both the book and the scorecard are Highly recommended.