“When a person becomes a Christian, he doesn’t just join a local church because it’s a good habit for growing in spiritual maturity. He joins a local church because it’s the expression of what Christ has made him—a member of the body of Christ.” – Mark Dever
Being a member of the Body of Christ means that we strive together towards spiritual edification and maturity. However, what does this look like practically? The Global Church Member Survey (GCMS) in both 2013 and 2017–2018 asked questions in order to learn about this important topic.
The 2013 vs. 2017–18 GCMS: Helping Others with Religious Struggles
In Galatians 6:2, we are told: “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” The author, no doubt, meant not only day-to-day burdens, but spiritual burdens, as well. Thus, an important part of being in Christian community involves coming alongside those who are struggling—in any way.
Both the 2013 and 2017–18 GCMS asked members if they helped others with religious struggles. In the 2013 study, two out of three respondents shared that they often or somewhat often helped others with their spiritual struggles. Nearly another quarter (22%) of the respondents admitted that they sometimes helped others who were struggling spiritually.
When members were asked to respond to the same statement in the 2017–18 GCMS, slightly fewer (64%) members shared that they often or sometimes-often helped others with their religious questions and struggles, and 21% said they did that sometimes. A greater percentage (8% in 2017-18 versus 5% in 2013) admitted that they never provided such help to others.
The drop in members’ helping others with religious questions and struggles is concerning. Ideally, it should serve as a call to action for church administration and members alike and bring awareness to a very important spiritual discipline.
The 2017–18 GCMS: Supporting Other Church Member’s Spiritual Growth
In Hebrews 10:24, the author urges Christians to “consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.” We are also encouraged in the following fashion: “Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Building each other up spiritually is an important part of church community life!
The 2017–18 GCMS dove deeper into just how church members helped others with their spiritual struggles. This survey determined that over a quarter (28%) of the members had supported another church member to grow spiritually every week or more often during the last 12 months, while another 14% had done so almost every week. However, the same number—over one in ten (14%) of the respondents—confessed that in the last year, they had never supported another church member’s spiritual growth.
The 2017–18 GCMS: Increasing Involvement in Member Care
Jesus commanded us to “love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). While love for other members may look different depending on the situation, one thing is clear: we are called to be involved in caring for those around us.
Respondents to the 2017–18 GCMS were asked if they believe their own personal involvement in caring for and nurturing local church members needed to change (either increase or decrease) or was at an adequate level. Nearly a third (30%) of the respondents shared that they needed to increase their involvement greatly, while another 42% shared that it needed to increase somewhat. Only one in five (20%) respondents felt that their involvement in the care and nurture of other church members was at the right level. A very small percentage felt their personal care and nurture for other members needed to decrease.
While many members in the worldwide Church showed commitment to helping other members with spiritual questions and struggles, as well as helping other members grow closer to Jesus, there were many members who admitted they were less involved in such activities. Thankfully, many members also shared that they realized their need to improve involvement in the nurture and care of other members.
When you consider your own involvement in the spiritual growth of others, how would you rank yourself? Do you often help others with their personal religious struggles? Have you committed to helping someone grow spiritually? Do you feel that your involvement in caring for and nurturing local church members is at the right level? We hope and pray that these questions will inspire you to make positive changes as you interact on a spiritual level with those around you and in your local church.
For more research findings on the total sample, please see the Meta-Analysis report.
Created in collaboration with the Institute of Church Ministry
Published by ASTR on 06-29-2022