Friday, May 02, 2014


Count 'Em

Justin Taylor quotes JI Packer:
I have found that churches, pastors, seminaries, and parachurch agencies throughout North America are mostly playing the numbers game—that is, defining success in terms of numbers of heads counted or added to those that were there before.


In all of this I seem to see a great deal of unmortified pride, either massaged, indulged, and gratified, or wounded, nursed, and mollycoddled. Where quantifiable success is god, pride always grows strong and spreads through the soul as cancer sometimes gallops through the body.


Orienting all Christian action to visible success as its goal, a move which to many moderns seems supremely sensible and businesslike, is thus more a weakness in the church than its strength; it is a seedbed both of unspiritual vainglory for the self-rated succeeders and of unspiritual despair for the self-rated failures, and a source of shallowness and superficiality all round.

The way of health and humility is for us to admit to ourselves that in the final analysis we do not and cannot know the measure of our success the way God sees it. Wisdom says: leave success ratings to God, and live your Christianity as a religion of faithfulness rather than an idolatry of achievement.
Mark Roberts:
This passage [Eph 4:11-13] deserves careful scrutiny, which I hope to provide in future reflections. For today, however, I want to step back and see the wider purpose of Christian ministry. This purpose includes: the building up of the body of Christ, which entails its unity and maturity. Notice that this purpose probably implies the numerical growth of the church, but it does not focus there. Rather, the building up of the body of Christ has to do primarily with its unity and maturity.
It is important when setting goals to differentiate product from by-product. Packer bemoans what happens when by-product is deemed product.

If your church is failing in ten numbers games, the right question to ask is how are you failing at "unity and maturity." Fix the product and the by-product follows in kind.


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