Re-Defining SuccessBy David Sherwood
May 29, 2009
Or...how does a church, ministry, or leader define "success?" What should we measure and evaluate to define impact?
Let me give you few things to chew on:
The Old Paradigm: most pastors and church leaders would define success from the following measurable quantities
- Church attendance, membership, small groups, Sunday school
- Baptisms, conversions, re-dedications
- Money that came into the church
Notice how much this looks like a business model. It presumes we have products and services to offer and if they are "purchased" we are successful. The challenge of this is...how well would Jesus ministry be defines with this criterion?
Quote from CG at swerve:
"I was trapped in this for years, my emotions rode the roller coaster of attendance. After a strong week of attendance I felt good about myself and life. After a bad week of attendance, I felt like the world was crashing down around me."
The same with budget, baptisms, etc.
Over the last 6 years I have looked at different criterion. The criterion I see God using in His word when talking with His servants.
How many can we bring in AND then disciple AND send into our communities to serve?
In other words Bringing people in matters...but so does Sending them out
5 stones is not doing great at bringing them in yet...nor are we great at discipling yet...but...we are getting much better at sending people out [Spain trip, Missional rev, VBS, etc]
How much money can we bring in AND then send out into the world to build the invisible Kingdom and transform people's lives in tangible ways?
5 stones is dead-on-target with doing this pretty well. We are becoming a generous church. We no longer hoard money but give it to the denomination, the community, 5th Sundays, etc.]
How much love can we show God AND each other AND the world
In other words the attendance doesn't matter so much as the attitude of those attending. How can we really love God in worship? Obey his word? And integrate His love for us into a love for one another and the world? How transformed are we by His love?
How many can we give AND send to help start new churches?
We are actively working to be a training church for seminary students who want to do this, and we will walk deeper and deeper into this in the coming years
How many Conversations with the world can we have instead of Converts?
IE: The means to salvations are relationships with the unchurched people of the world. Just trying to "convert" them is manipulative and annoying. Instead we should be looking for open doors to serve them and have compelling conversations with them about the substance of our lives. Being Missional w/o relationship is like being a used-car salesman. Instead of that we want to really love people no matter what, no matter how long it takes, no matter the results. And we trust, that love...over time...will transform others just as it has and continues to transform us.
Leaders being obedient to their call...no matter what others do or don't do
IE: Jeremiah was alone and everyone thought he was nuts, Moses had whinners lining up around the block to complain, and Jesus watched many walk away when he said hard stuff. But when this happens to us we either blame ourselves or blame them...which is a waste of emotional energy and accomplishes nothing. Often leaders define success in weird ways but they need to define their obedience as something that brings glory to God, is the right example, and is worthy of testimony no matter what others think or do. Leaders lead...but also sometimes walk VERY, VERY alone. And in these places the leader must remember that part of the "success" God is looking for is INSIDE you and not OUTSIDE. IT is your character and Christ-likeness that is being defined and developed. Success sometimes is a long, hard, lonely obedience in the same direction. Noah understood this. Biblical success is always intertwinned in suffering and sacrifice. But in this you are NEVER alone.
What other things should we be looking to measure to redefine success in a more Biblical way?