A few months ago, I had the opportunity to interview echurch Summit panelist Pastor Rick Holliday, Executive Director of Ministry Services at North Point Community Church, about how North Point measures member engagement.
Much like NewSpring, North Point has been very intentional about how they define and measure participation and engagement. And they should! Engagement is usually a strong indication of a member’s spiritual health.
North Point defines what they call “full engagement” as participation in these four areas:
At North Point, they have a lot of small groups that form one church. As Andy Stanley likes to say, “Circles are better than rows.” So, people are always placed into groups, including children. It’s the norm for kids and the norm for adults. If a person isn’t in a group, that person isn’t considered fully engaged.
North Point believes one of the best ways you can grow in your relationship with Christ is to serve. So they challenge people to serve, whether it’s teaching, leading groups, or helping with the community. They want everyone to serve, so they work hard to create opportunities.
When you give, you start to trust God with your resources, and you recognize what you own is God’s and not yours. North Point believes giving helps members recognize God’s ownership of their lives; they encourage people to give a percentage regularly, consider giving a priority, and make giving progressive (meaning, they should increase that amount they give over time).
4. Invest and Invite
Finally, North Point asks people to invest in the lives of unbelieving friends and invite them to a church event. They don’t want people to get held up on theological disputes; rather, they just want them to invest in them as human beings and to invite them to some church function where the Holy Spirit can begin to work through the preaching and teaching of God’s word.
Engagement, Taking Root, and Following Christ
If a member is consistently involved in these four engagement areas, the church considers them “fully engaged.” Along with prayer, Bible study, and accountability, these engagement markers help create the sort of environment in which their members are most likely to become devoted followers of Christ. It isn’t legalism or anything like that. Rather, it’s a simple recognition that this is how people take root; they often need encouragement and help to do so.
According to Rick, discipleship isn’t a linear process. It’s circular. This is the reason you can go back and re-read the Proverbs over and over and each time it might teach you something different. Our circumstances and place in life require us to revisit texts over and over again as we mature and grow. The Holy Spirit works organically in this way, and that’s why staying engaged in these formats is critically important for a person’s ongoing spiritual growth and development. There’s never a point where someone will reach spiritual maturity and not need these things anymore.