Discipleship Vital Signs Assessment
There is no assessment protocol that can perfectly measure the spiritual temperature of a student body, but IGC has designed a four level approach that can provide the staff with a fair and comprehensive overview of what’s going on for students spiritually. The assessment is designed for Junior and Senior high students. Our experience has been that younger students in Christian schools are usually still pretty enthusiastic about their faith.
I. Biblical Literacy
Students are given a series of Bible knowledge questions to determine their level of familiarity with the basic characters, narratives, and essentials of the Scripture. The questions are categorized as ” Basic,” ”Essential,” and “Extra Credit.” A basic question would be something like ”Who heard God speaking from a burning bush?” An essential level question would be something like “Who was Israel’s king when David killed Goliath?” and an extra credit question might be something like “Which New Testament epistle compares the Old Testament sacrificial system with the new covenant?”
The biblical literacy test is applied across grades 6 or 7 (depending on divisional structure) through Grade 12. It allows us to assess not only the overall level of familiarity with the Bible, but also whether that familiarity is increasing as the students move through our programs to the higher grades.
In some schools it might be advantageous to measure the biblical illiteracy of the staff as well. This is done at the discretion of the school administrators.
II. Theological Awareness/Thoughtfulness
This assessment is concerned with evaluating the student body’s awareness of basic theological concepts. It is accomplished through a combination of a written survey and a series of focus groups and conversations with individual students. It will explore students’ familiarity with theological terms like repentance, atonement, sin, justification, grace, mercy, etc. It will also explore their understanding of salvation, including their ability to lead someone to faith. If the school is denominational, we will work with denominational leaders to tailor this section of the assessment to include denominational distinctives that students should be aware of. This component of the assessment is extremely helpful for determining whether students are thinking deeply about issues of faith and developing a vocabulary for articulating their beliefs. In the focus groups, basic “apologetics” questions will be addressed to evaluate students’ ability to defend the essentials of their faith.
III. Theological Alignment/Orthodoxy
This tool is used to determine whether the students actually line up theologically with the stated position of the school or denomination. A framework is presented to the administrators, denominational leaders (If applicable) spiritual formation staff members, etc. to determine the appropriate themes to explore. Essentially, what this section of the audit is concerned with is whether students believe what they’re being taught. If your school takes a particular position on issues like the authority of Scripture, the Holy Spirit, creation, human sexuality, etc. we will help you determine the level of alignment that your students feel to the positions that are held by the school. Our experience has been that the outcome of this assessment can be surprising. Students are often found to deviate dramatically on essential issues of faith that are held by the leadership of the school. The method for this section is a combination of written responses and randomized individual conversations with students.
IV. Discipleship Lifestyle, Behaviors and Disciplines
This is the behavioral component of the assessment which explorers whether or not our students’ relationship with Christ is being lived out consistently in the day-to-day rhythms of their lives. Through a series of Likert scale statements we will explore their commitment to daily spiritual practices, relational health, moral purity, local church involvement, sharing their faith with their friends, stewarding their resources well, and other tangible evidences of a life that is guided by Scripture and motivated by love for Christ. It includes not only behavioral, but attitudinal statements. For example, we ask not only for students to respond on a scale of “strongly agree” to ”strongly disagree” to a statement like ”Personal Bible reading is a daily practice for me” but also a statement like, “I am often driven by a hunger to spend time in God’s word because of what I gain from it.”
Of course, we recognize that these behavioral measures by themselves are not an accurate determinant of what is going on in the heart of a young person, but the Scripture does call us to live lives that are marked by choices that reflect the character and priorities of Jesus. We measure what matters!
The school will receive a summary report on each of the four areas of assessment. If it is desired, an IGC representative will respond to the outcomes of the assessment with recommendations and strategies to help the school achieve its discipleship goals more effectively. Full scale consultations are available to help craft a well designed, intentional disciple-making program if needed.
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