Tag Archives: Success

The One Test Your Church Really Must Pass

Tuesday Re-mix –

This is what he showed me: The Lord was standing by a wall that had been built true to plumb, with a plumb line in his hand.  And the LORD asked me, “What do you see, Amos?”

   “A plumb line,” I replied.

   Then the Lord said, “Look, I am setting a plumb line among my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.  Amos 7:7-8

plumblineThere are a lot of ways to measure the “success” of the church today, a lot of standards from which we can draw.  I suppose which standard we use will depend on who we are trying to please at the time.  Whether they will admit it or not, our people most often use their own comfort level as the standard for judging whether or not we are “getting it right”.  Our denominational entities likely would care about our level of “support” for their programs and, more importantly, their budget.  Our communities would measure our effectiveness by how much assistance we offer them.  And you and I?  Oh we probably count noses in gathered worship or baptisms last year or variance from budget or some other such objective, measurable standards.

Please hear me when I say that, as far as I am concerned, all of those standards are fine measurements of some aspect of our effectiveness as a church.  I really have no qualms with any of them.  Each of them, it seems to me, has a right place in our strategic planning and in our “doing church”.  Similarly, I suspect that, during Amos’ time, the people of Israel had some objective, measurable standards for their own version of church and worship and honoring God.  I also suspect that, like the church today, they were knocking it out of the park by some …

The Measure of Your Ministry

Tuesday Re-mix –

Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone.  You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.  2 Corinthians 3:1-3

I will be the first to admit I have validation issues…O.K., maybe not the first to admit it, but I do get to that admission eventually. 🙂  What other people think of me probably matters more to me than it should…words of affirmation are definitely how I feel loved (thank you, Gary Chapman).  Add to that my (mostly-healthy) competitive nature and then stir in my very American-public-school-achievement orientation, and you have a recipe for a man who is all about constantly assessing his successes versus his failures.  It is important to me.  Maybe it is important to you too.

I measure everything.  I measure my case load and my billings at work.  I measure my workouts and my sleep hours at home.  I measure my quality time spent with my wife and with my daughters (never enough).  I measure the conferences and speaking engagements I do, the writing time I have, the churches with whom I consult, and the budget dollars in my ministry.  I measure the attendance in The Gathering, and my teaching time there.  I measure my readership, my “hits”, my “click-throughs” and my subscriptions to this blog.  I am always assessing and reassessing and measuring the success and/or failure of all these endeavors.  I’ll bet you do as well.

The question is, in ministry, what does …

Spelling “Success” for the Church

Tuesday Re-mix –

“Looking at his disciples, he said:
“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who hunger now,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when men hate you,
when they exclude you and insult you
and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man…

“But woe to you who are rich,
for you have already received your comfort.
Woe to you who are well fed now,
for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will mourn and weep.
Woe to you when all men speak well of you,
for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.

Luke 6:20-22, 24-26

Even before He started the revolution he called “the church”, Jesus established clearly and often that God would not measure its success in any ways we would like.  According to Jesus, here are some ways NOT to measure success as a church:

1.  Amount of resources. This is not just about financial wealth (though there is that too).  Riches include other resources as well, such as human resources (i.e., gifts, talents, innovation, leadership, etc.).  Be honest, even for the most Spiritual among us, when we see a beautiful young, talented, dynamic family join the church, doesn’t our heart skip a beat or two, thinking about how much “better” our church just became?  But when the homeless person walks in off the street and joins (if we will even permit that to happen), do we feel the same way?  Jesus spoke to this so often, yet we still get trapped by the way the world tends to see things.

2.  Amount of physical needs. Even though my local church may …