How to Maximize Spiritual Growth

The 40 Days of Lent Are a Good Time to Start

Lent is a perfect time to maximize spiritual growth. Throughout church history God’s people have dedicated the 40 days of Lent to self-examination, penitence, and self-denial in order to grow closer to Christ.

The Go Commission Maximize Spiritual Growth

Of course, spiritual growth doesn’t happen by accident. It requires a plan. Former University of Alabama football coach Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant once said, “Have a plan. Follow the plan, and you’ll be surprised how successful you can be. Most people don’t have a plan. That’s why it’s is easy to beat most folks.”

You can maximize lent for spiritual growth by implementing a few simple ideas.

A Daily Growth Habit

Leadership expert John Maxwell says, “You cannot change your life until you change something you do every day.” That makes sense. People who grow spiritually learned long ago that daily effort has a compounding effect.

A macro goal might be to maximize spiritual growth during the 40 days of Lent. A micro goal is a daily one accomplished by breaking the macro goal into small daily goals.

Dr. B.J. Fogg calls them Tiny Habits. They are the small behaviors that can defeat resistance to change and promote growth.

Fogg suggests that there are three things that change behavior. One is to have an epiphany. But, epiphanies are rare and are dependent on an external event outside of one’s control. He suggests the leveraging of the other two things: a change of environment and taking baby steps.

Fogg suggests four steps to developing tiny habits:

  • Get Specific. Make your goal clear.
  • Make it easy. Start small and the new behavior can grow over time.
  • Identify a trigger behavior. The trigger should be an already firmly established event that you already do consistently.
  • Celebrate. Build a small celebration into your routine. It might be as simple as saying “Woo! Hoo!” after completing your new habit.

Here is the tiny habit recipe and examples:

The recipe: After I [existing habit], I will [new behavior].

Example: After I eat lunch, I will read a Bible verse.

When the new habit is anchored into a routine it can be expanded. Reading a verse becomes a paragraph, a paragraph becomes a chapter, and so on. The expansion of the tiny habit will produce the momentum for the behavior change a person wants to establish.

You can learn about the method here and Dr. Fogg’s Ted Talk.

Be Intentional

The second idea to maximize spiritual growth during Lent is to be intentional about it. The first practice of intention is to start. Following the strategy of tiny habits, one simple macro goal can get you started on your plan to maximize your spiritual growth.

John Maxwell, in his book The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth: Live Them and Reach Your Potential, shares this helpful chart.

From Accidental Growth to Intentional Growth

Accidental GrowthIntentional Growth
Plans to Start TomorrowInsists on Starting Today
Waits for Growth to ComeTakes Complete Responsibility to Grow
Learns Only from MistakesOften Learns Before Mistakes
Depends on Good LuckRelies on Hard Work
Quits Early and OftenPerseveres Long and Hard
Falls into Bad HabitsFights for Good Habits
Talks BigFollows Through
Plays It SafeTakes Risks
Thinks Like a VictimThinks Like a Learner
Relies on TalentRelies on Character
Stops Learning After GraduationNever Stops Growing

Use a Good Resource

The third idea to maximize spiritual growth during the upcoming 40 days of Lent is to use one or two good resources. Here are some of my favorites.

Rethinking Easter will help you develop a plan to help the whole church grow. It’s free for the next few weeks. I encourage you to use it.

Holiness: A Lenten Devotional is a new resource written from the perspective of the Church of God (Anderson), but it will be helpful to anyone who wants to focus on the virtue of holiness as their growth goal.

40 Things to Give Up for Lent and Beyond  is a daily devotional that I have enjoyed using. It available in paperback and Kindle editions.

40 Things to Give Up for Lent and Beyond Paperback Edition

40 Things to Give Up for Lent and Beyond Kindle Edition

My friend Dr. John Davey provided this plan for his congregation last year. It will give you some good ideas for you and your church.

Pennway Church of God Spiritual Growth Ideas for Lent

What will you do to maximize spiritual growth during the 40 days of Lent?


Recent Post:

Rethinking Easter Outreach Ideas


10 Rethinking Easter Outreach Ideas

From Big Event to Big Impact

Rethinking Easter begins now. It is one of the most important days of the year for the local church. And it’s only 11 weeks away. Here are 10 rethinking Easter ideas to help you start planning.

Rethinking Easter Church Marketing Plan for Big Impact

Take Advantage of Church Marketing University’s Rethinking Easter Module

Ryan Wakefield, of Church Marketing University, has a very helpful online course to help transition Easter from simply being a big event to a season of big impact.

Don’t miss this course! Ryan is offering it free for those who jump in now.

Gather Ideas to Make Easter Great

One of the challenges is to make Easter feel fresh for your congregation. It’s way too easy to replay last year’s calendar. Easter needs to be exciting for everyone, not just your first time guests.

Most of us aren’t original creatives. We borrow and adapt good ideas from others. I’ve found it helpful to spend a little time reading about what others are doing. I pin the good ones to my Pinterest Page.

My Easter Ideas for Churches Pinterest Page

Get Ready for Company

What happens at your house when company is coming? I imagine it’s the same as at my house. A lot of cleaning!

The same needs to happen at the church. Clean it up. Spruce it up. A walkabout both inside and outside to create a checklist of issues to address might prove helpful.

Get the Word Out with Social Media

We created a hashtag to brand our Easter activities last year and put it on all our social media posts for several weeks. A lot of people noticed and followed.

What hashtag could you use this year?

Invitation Strategy

One way to make it easier for your members to invite others is to give them an invite card. Canva has a page full of ideas that can be modified to make them.

Canva’s Church Invitations Page


I been thinking lately that churches need to start thinking like online entrepreneurs when it comes to marketing. A landing page and an email list are essential for them. Why not for the church, too?

I’m developing a course to help church leaders do the same. Click the link if you want me to let you know when it is ready.

Link for Email course.


This is the easiest to implement. You people know how to pray. A few ideas passed to them each week in the bulletin with ramp up the prayer time.

Better yet, why not write a prayer for the whole church to use?

Easter Sunday

The Vanderbloemen Search Group suggested sending everyone home with a lily. What fun! They have six more good ideas in their blog post.

7 Ideas to Make Your Easter Service Memorable

Make the Gospel Clear

Easter is all about Jesus. It is the perfect time to focus on Him. Above all else, we need to make a clear call for people to come to Christ.

Have a Clear Guest Follow-up Strategy

Rethinking Easter is about more than Easter Sunday. A good follow-up strategy will include a clear next step for your visitors to take.

What do you want your Easter visitors to do next?

This needs to be crystal clear. Rethinking Easter Module 3 has a lot of great ideas to help. I hope you will take advantage of the ideas present there.

Rethinking Easter is a free module from Church Marketing University. I want to especially thank Ryan Wakefield for making this available to my readers.

You will also receive all the information you need to determine whether or not purchasing the course is right for your church. In full disclosure, I will receive a commission if you use my link. It won’t cost you any more to do so.


Click For Rethinking Easter


Want to have a conversation about how to leverage Easter for big impact?

Join us in the Facebook Discussion Group.

5 Things I Wish I Had Known

There are so many things I wish I had known when I began ministry. All I knew about ministry was from watching and working with my pastor. He was very open to helping me and gave me opportunities to serve. But, most of my training came on the job.

I Wish I Had Known. Skills for Ministry. The Go Commission

The list of things that I wish I had known could be very long. Here are some that bubble to the top of the list.

5 Things I Wish I Had Known When I Began Ministry

1. How to Define and Cast Vision

This wasn’t taught as part of my preparation for ministry. I am still learning how to do it well.

2. How to Engage with the Community

The only thing I knew about engaging the community was to take evangelistic surveys at the mall. I learned this during my Evangelism Explosion training. Otherwise, I waited for people to show up at church.

3. How to Develop Leaders

Evangelism Explosion training was a good model for preparing new evangelists. New trainees were always paired with experienced people. The curriculum was well defined. I should have applied those principles to every area of the church.

4. How to Plan and Set Goals

I was introduced to the Pastor’s Planning Workbooks from the Charles E. Fuller Institute of Evangelism and Church Growth early in my ministry. They helped me to start setting a foundation for goal setting and planning.

Here are links to the workbooks. I am sharing them with the assumption that they are out of print. Please contact me if this is not true.

Pastor’s Planning Workbook 1

Pastor’s Planning Workbook 2

Pastor’s Planning Workbook 3

Pastor’s Planning Workbook 4

5. How to Manage My Time

I am forever thankful to Pastor Forrest Plants for taking me the Managing Your Time Seminar by World Vision. It was the only time I heard Ted Engstrom in person. The opening lecture was Time Is Life.

Take Time to Work – It is the Price of Success

Take Time to Think – It is the Source of Power

Take Time to Play – It is the Secret of Perpetual Youth

Take Time to Read – It is the Fountain of Wisdom

Take Time to be Friendly – It is the Road to Happiness

Take Time to Dream – It is Hitching Your Wagon to a Star

Take Time to Love and be Loved – It is the Privilege of Redeemed People

Take Time to Look Around – It is Too Short a Day to be Selfish

Take Time for God! – It is Life’s Only Lasting Investment

No one ever fully learns these skills. They grow with experience. I hope this will help you think through some of the skills that you can develop.

What do you wish you had known when you began your ministry?

Comment below or on the Facebook Page.