Friday, December 23, 2011


Ministry Success

Mark Jackson @ MMI encourages small churches to limit their programs, but this is what typically happens:
  1. hear the need (which, please understand, I believe are real – youth do need small groups; adults need deeper Bible study; kids programs should be excellent)
  2. flail about looking for someone to lead this new ministry/program
  3. grab someone who is already overworked but easily feels guilt
  4. do a horrific job of planning for the ministry and/or recruiting other leaders
  5. launch without doing good publicity to the community or the congregation
  6. initial success is followed almost immediately by decline in attendance, rationalizing about why it’s not working, and a vow to continue despite obvious problems (which are ignored for “spiritual” reasons)
  7. depending on the church, either a staff person or a prominent lay person comes in to take over leadership as the program falters
  8. the program becomes dependent on artificial life support from the key leadership person – if they step out, the program dies
  9. due to the key leadership person and a fear of killing programs/hurting people’s feelings, the program continues on LONG beyond its useful lifespan
Fair enough, I've seen that cycle too. But JAckson's analysis rests on the presumption that success is measured by the long term viability of the program, how many people it attracts and whether it is financially viable.

Here's what I wonder though - what if success is measured in the things learned by the "failed" leadership, the relationships built amongst the leadership and those served. What about the one person that the ministry did touch deeply?
Matt 18:12-13 - "What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? "And if it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray.

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