My wife and I gave each other personal fitness trackers last Christmas.
These are tools that you wear on your wrist. The tracker keeps count of the number of steps that you take during the day, the miles that you walk, the number of calories you burn, your heart rate, the number of floors that you climb, and the quality of your sleep (among other things).
Our goal is to use these trackers to get in better physical shape. Certain targets are helpful to form daily goals. For example, taking 10,000 steps a day is a goal for getting more exercise.
I figured something out: Having the tracker does not take the steps for you! You still have to get up out of the recliner, put down the remote and go take a walk! But we also have seen how having the tracker is a constant reminder to improve our level of activity.
Also, sharing this experience with someone else encourages both of us to do better. During the day we will now ask one another, “So how many steps do you have so far?” That often leads to taking another walk.
As I have learned about a fitness tracker for physical health, that has also made me wonder about tracking spiritual health. What are things that I can do that would be the spiritual version of taking 10,000 steps?
Obviously God works in us through the Holy Spirit to shape our lives to greater spiritual health, but there are things that we can do. Maybe a spiritual fitness tracker would be a good idea for us to try.
Here is my suggestion for things that we can do which open the door of opportunity for God to do amazing work in our lives. Think of these ideas and metrics as the spiritual equivalent of taking 10,000 steps per day:
- Worship with the Body of Christ – at least once per week.
- Bible reading – one chapter of the Bible a day.
- Prayer – spend time every day with God.
- Community – participate in a small group or class on a regular basis to help others and to be helped by others.
- Service – each week, serve someone in need because the love of Christ compels you.
- Share – each week, share with someone the good news of what Jesus means to you. Invite someone to come with you to a worship or community group event with your church.
- Stewardship – tithe (give one-tenth of your income) on a regular basis to the work of God’s Kingdom through the church.
There are many other things that we can do as Christians, but these are the basics that will lead to our own personal spiritual health. And then, when we all do these things, our churches are strengthened and grow healthier.
Will you commit to tracking these things in your own life? Copy down this list and put it where it will be a constant reminder for you.
Is it possible that the same principle could work for church health? Are there things that a “Church Fitness Tracker” could monitor, which would lead to greater health of your congregation?
Let me suggest a conversation that you might have in a Sunday school class or a deacon body or a church staff meeting.
Just as the Personal Fitness Tracker measures for you areas of importance to your physical health, and just as I have given examples of things that you can do to lead to improved personal spiritual health, what do you think would be areas of church fitness to measure that would lead to a healthier church?
What if you had these kinds of discussions in your own church? Create your own “dashboard” of items that need tracking in the life of the church. Relate these areas to the mission and vision of your church.
Instead of just reading from a list that I might write, the value of having this discussion in church groups will lead to a stronger outcome.
These will be your areas of measurement, not mine. I will give one hint – the dashboard should include more than just attendance, giving and baptisms!
Think outside the box – or outside the building. What kinds of missional and outreach ministries could you track that would be an indicator of church health? What is the equivalent of 10,000 steps per day for your church that will lead to greater vitality and health?
Have fun with this exercise. But remember, the Personal Fitness Trackers do not take the steps for you. They only measure what is deemed to be important.
We still have to get up out of our pews and start “walking.”
David Hull is the southeast coordinator for the Center for Healthy Churches and lives in Watkinsville, Georgia. He was previously the pastor of First Baptist Church in Huntsville, Alabama. A version of this article first appeared on the Center for Healthy Churches blog and is used with permission. You can follow Hull on Twitter @DavidWHull.