Effective ministry flows out of a passionate spirituality. Spiritual intimacy leads to a strong conviction that God will act in powerful ways. A godly vision can only be accomplished through an optimistic faith which views obstacles as opportunities and turns defeats into victories.
The concept of spiritual passion and the widespread notion of the walk of faith as "performing one’s duty" seem to be mutually exclusive. In churches which tend toward "legalism" (where being a Christian means having the right doctrine, moral code, church membership, etc.), spiritual passion is usually below average.
The nature of this quality characteristic becomes evident by examining the prayer life of Christians who take the NCD survey. While the amount of time (quantity) a Christian spends in prayer plays only a minor role with regard to the quality and growth of a church, whether prayer is viewed as an "inspiring experience" or not has a significant relationship to the quality and quantity of the church. Similar results were found with respect to personal use of the Bible and other factors affecting personal spirituality.
This quality characteristic has been widely criticized in the past: "Passion alone is no reflection of one’s loyalty to the truth." This observation is true, of course. On the other hand, "pure doctrine" alone does not induce growth. A church, regardless of how orthodox its dogma and view of Scripture, can hardly expect to experience growth, as long as its members do not learn to live their faith with contagious enthusiasm and to share it with others.
The quality characteristic "passionate spirituality" demonstrates the theological core of the matter in church growth: the life of faith is a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ.
The NCD Survey measures:
- Personal spiritual disciplines
- Corporate spiritual disciplines
- Contagious faith