Why a Spiritual Health Assessment?
There is a growing awareness in churches in America and around the world that the Church’s purpose is to make disciples—not just to fill seats. Different churches (congregations) have different approaches to this, and many useful programs and curriculums have been produced as a result. However, churches often ask, “How do we know if we are actually making strong disciples? How do we measure this?”
We believe the answer lies in an understanding of how God built us. God made us to be strong and health spiritually and physically. However, for that to happen, we have to live as God designed us to live. Physically, that means providing the appropriate environment: air, water, food and exercise—as well as protecting ourselves from injury and disease. In other words, God designed us to be healthy. We just have to make sure we are living consistently with His design!
God created us to be healthy spiritually as well. For this to happen, we have to have the right environment, as well as to be sure we aren’t poisoned or injured in some way. In the scripture, God makes clear what needs to exist in our lives for us to be spiritually healthy—to be strong disciples. These are elements of the Christian life which have historically been known as spiritual disciplines. The problem is that many in the Church today believe these spiritual disciplines as optional—Christians can choose to make them part of his or her life or not. This is simply not true! These disciplines are not optional, but essential to our lives. That’s why we call them “The Essentials” of spiritual health. The Spiritual Health Assessment is designed to assess the strength of each of these essentials, providing a concrete way for individuals to assess spiritual health, and churches to assess their effectiveness in making strong disciples!
Like any honest assessment of life, The Spiritual Health Assessment could easily become a tool for legalism and judgment. What prevents this is an emphasis on the first of the essentials, Individual Worship. Scripture calls on us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice to our King (Romans 12). This means bringing every thought, word and action into obedience to Him and presenting them to Him as an act of worship. When we do this, legalism and a mechanistic view of faith dissolve away. Judgment is irrelevant, because we do what we do for our King, not others.
The Spiritual Health Assessment is not a program!
We have not created another program or curriculum. We recognize there are many of these available—some of them very useful! We do not want to compete with or try to replace these. Rather, The Spiritual Health Assessment is a tool designed to be useful to individuals and churches or Christian organizations regardless of what program they may or may not be using.
What are the benefits of The Spiritual Health Assessment?
- To the individual: The Spiritual Health Assessment provides the individual participant with an assessment of their own spiritual health, as well as a plan for maintaining areas of strength while strengthening areas that may be weak. This allows the individual to build their relationship with the Lord and prepare for whatever challenges may come in the future!
- To the marriage: The Spiritual Health Assessment provides husbands and wives with an assessment of the spiritual health of their relationship. For example, both the husband and wife may score highly on prayer, but do they pray together? This assessment will give them the opportunity to make their marriage different from the average marriage in the world!
- To the church or organization: The Spiritual Health Assessment gives church or organizational leaders an assessment of the spiritual health/strength of their people, allowing them to provide congregational or organizational approaches to strengthening areas of spiritual health. It also provides the minister, small group leader, counselor, etc. with a way to understand the spiritual health of an individual or couple so as to shepherd or counsel that person or couple more effectively.
Who can use The Spiritual Health Assessment?
The Spiritual Health Assessment can be used by individual Christians, married couples, church leaders, Christian organization leaders, Christian counselors and anyone else interested in strengthening spiritual health and discipleship.
How does the Spiritual Health Assessment work?
The participant logs on to the Spiritual Health Assessment website and establishes an individual account—a process that will take less than five minutes. The fee for establishing the account is $10 per user. This gives the user unlimited use of The Spiritual Health Assessment for a year! To encourage married couples to do this together, for a limited time The Essential Faith Project will offer a marital package for $10, allowing both spouses to use the Spiritual Health Assessment, as well as to take the married version.
As they log in to take the assessment, the participant will be asked if they want the profile to be sent to anyone other than themselves (e.g. a minister, small group leader, spouse, etc.). If so, they will provide the name and email address of that person(s), and the profile will automatically be sent to them. In addition, they will be asked whether their church is a participating church. If so, they will be asked to select their church from the menu. This will provide their church with the data from their profile without identifying information. Other than these situations, the individual’s information and scores will not be available to anyone without the user name and password.
The participant will then answer 25 questions regarding their own spiritual health. The questions are all based in seven “Essentials” (what has historically been known as spiritual disciplines”). The report they receive will give them a score for each essential (a total of nine scores, since two of the essentials have been sub-divided) from 1 (this essential is virtually non-existent in their life) to 10 (this essential is so strong in their life it does not need improvement). The report will identify the essentials which are strong, and the participant will be encouraged to make certain these do not change. It will then identify the areas which are moderate—present and functional, but in need of strengthening. Suggestions will be made regarding how to strengthen these. Finally, the report will identify any areas which are weak, making recommendations for how to begin to build these in the participant’s life. In addition, the report will help the participant develop a strategy for how to get started, identifying the one essential that is the most important, and identifying aspects of other essentials which, even if the category score is high, may need to be addressed.
How does the Spiritual Health Assessment benefit the church or Christian organization?
A church may become a participating church (Christian organizations may use the same mechanism for their staff or clientele) by completing a church profile and encouraging their people to complete the Spiritual Health Assessment. There is no cost to the church for becoming a participating church. The church can then choose to cover the cost for each participant, in which case they will be billed on a monthly basis for those who have signed up or allow each participant to cover their own cost. When a participant is asked whether their church is a participating church and they select the church from their menu, the data from their Spiritual Health Assessment will automatically be sent to church, without identifying information. (A church may choose to require the Spiritual Health Assessment in some circumstances, such as for leaders. If so, they can obtain the data with identifying information when the participant enters their name and email address.) In addition, the church will be provided with a cumulative record of the scores from all participants from their church. This will give the church an ongoing picture of the spiritual health of their people, providing them with the ability to see where they are strong as a congregation and/or where they need to be strengthened.
Once they have received the data from The Essential Faith Project on the spiritual health of their people, the church can move forward with their own programming, adapt their programming and teaching, or choose to consult with The Essential Faith Project to identify congregational priorities, setting congregational goals, and develop a plan for accomplishing their goals.
We would love to answer any questions you might have. Feel free to email Dr. Randy Christian, Executive Director of The Essential Faith Project and author of The Spiritual Health Assessment by completing the form below.