Review Of Hawkins And Parkinson, “Move: What 1000 Churches REVEAL About Spiritual Growth” -- By: Annang Asumang
Conspectus 14:1 (September 2012) p. 173
Review Of Hawkins And Parkinson, “Move: What 1000 Churches REVEAL About Spiritual Growth”
Hawkins GL and Parkinson C 2011. Move: What 1000 Churches REVEAL about Spiritual Growth. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
One of the positive trends in contemporary conservative Christian circles is the renewed focus on discipleship and spiritual formation. Like the rest of the society in which it witnesses, the church is coming round to once again appreciate that quality is as important as quantity. So, it is now widely reaffirmed that the number of people attending church services or involved in Christian activities are on their own unreliable for gauging the spiritual health of the church. The quality of spiritual development, at both individual and congregational levels, is even more important.
This focus on spiritual formation of Christians is really not new. The historical landscape of Christianity is strewn with peaks and troughs of alternating emphases on evangelism at certain periods, followed by consolidating periods of emphases on discipleship. What is, however, new in the current wave of emphases on discipleship is, the concerted effort to also quantify spiritual growth itself. By and large, the tendency
Conspectus 14:1 (September 2012) p. 174
in previous eras was to focus on exhorting believers towards spiritual growth, providing them with resources to help in that direction, and organising discipleship activities and church programmes to ensure sustained growth of individuals and congregations (e.g. Gumbel 1993; Tice and Cooper 2002; Warren 2002).2
In contrast, the latest trend seeks to actually quantify how spiritual growth manifests itself in individuals and churches; this appears to be inspiring a wave of interest in academic as well as popular arenas (e.g. Barna 2012; Gallagher 2009:232-261; Willard 2010:29).
Several impetuses are behind this most recent emphasis on quantifying a largely qualitative idea as spiritual growth. Firstly, society itself has moved in this direction of seeking ways to measure qualitative parameters. Even nebulous subjective ideas such as beauty, health, happiness, personal well-being, and quality of life are being quantified and indexed by researchers and government policy makers (Abdel-Khalek 2006:139-150; Arnesen and Norhelm 2003:81-86). The church seems to have taken its cue from this sociological trend.
Secondly, many churches are coming to grips with the sad reality of the marked mismatch between increased Christian activities and att...
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