How do we help people grow spiritually?

Some people who read this blog, maybe you, are experts in equipping people for faith.

I know. When it comes to faith, no one’s an expert.

But you spend time teaching and conversing and creating curriculum and experiences to help people grow in faith and faithfulness. You may describe this as becoming more like Jesus. Or your goal may be like Luke described Jesus “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and people.”

What I’m guessing is that you want to know that you are doing great. Or at least that you are doing no harm. You want to know that the people you are teaching end up somewhere close to the dreams you have or to the way that you are pouring into them. You want to know that the frustrations you face aren’t because you are incompetent. You want to know that the people you are teaching have the faith and the tools to live well through the situations facing them.

So how can you be sure that you are on the right track? That what you are doing will have the results you are seeking? That God will be happy with you?

And, fundamentally, how can we assess spiritual growth?

I’m starting a couple of projects to help figure out how to answer these questions. After thirty years of doing stuff, I’m ready to turn to helping people figure out what works in what ways.

TFormationhe code word for this is spiritual formation.  One way I’m talking about this right now is that spiritual formation, or better, intentional spiritual formation, involves a community and beliefs, involves a goal, and involves a process.

A way of capturing those elements could look like this: Spiritual formation happens when a community holds beliefs about what it means to be spiritually healthy that they use to develop and implement a process intended to foster those beliefs and that spiritual health in others.

I’ll talk more about this soon. But if you are one of the people who is looked at as an expert and is feeling challenged, let me know. Email me at formation [at]

2 thoughts on “How do we help people grow spiritually?

  1. Andy Ford

    A lazy answer – (Too lazy to check the verse) Doesn’t it say in Corinthians , or somewhere, that while we may plant the seed, or water, that GOD gives the growth. So, why would I worry about growth if that’s HIS department?


    1. Jon Swanson

      1 Corinthians 3:5-9. Good question, Andy. Let me try to answer it. Assume for a moment that the spiritual part of us is the part intended to connect us with God (with something Other than us in general terms). So the internal process of growth, the developing relationship between God and people, is up to God. But, as Paul points out, there is seed planting and watering, activities that God uses. And Paul in other place talks about us participating in the activities of growing (For example, in Philippians 4:8 where he talks about what to think.) So though I may not worry about growth, we are called to do the things which create the setting, and, not do the things that take away from growth.


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