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Successful? In Ministry?

Success in ministry can be a tough thing to pin down. If you say success means a big church, then 82% of churches in American are unsuccessful because they have less than 100 people. And the lives of some of those with “big churches” are wrought with frustration & burnout & worse. Shawn Lovejoy’s book The Measure of our Success is a helpful tool to remind us about what really matters in ministry & church life. And the questions at the end of each chapter are a great way to recalibrate your current health as a leader & what you’re measuring in your ministry. Adding this one to my annual review list. Here’s a few of my favorite quotes.

  • the greatest temptation that I face is substituting what I do for God, with who I am with God.
  • If our attendance growth comes at the expense of our ability to disciple people, we have not been successful.
  • Jesus didn’t say, “Go and grow large,” he said, “Go and make disciples.”
  • Your responsibility is to be faithful. Not to be God.
  • is your family on your schedule? You will schedule what’s important to you.
  • We don’t use people to get tasks or ministry done; we use tasks and ministry to get people done
  • TEAM: Together Everyone Accomplishes More
  • The only way we can escape criticism is to say nothing, do nothing, & be nothing.
  • Jesus experienced highs & lows. So will we.
  • Do you trust God enough to take him at his word when he says resting every six days is best for you?
  • Filling our auditoriums is good. Filling heaven is better.
  • Christian community that is not reaching unchurched people is not Christian community; it’s consumerism.
  • The Church is not the hope of the world. Jesus is the hope of the world. He has simply chosen to extend hope through his people, the church.

Here’s a few of the questions at the end of each chapter that I haven’t been able to forget:

  • What would it look like for your church to measure more by the story than by the number? How could you express this shift in your church?
  • Is there a specific courageous conversation you need to have or decision you need to make? If so, what do you need to do?
  • What are some ways your church could heighten your capacity for making disciples?
  • How do you think your church could make Jesus and his gospel more central to everything you are and do?

Pick up The Measure of Our Success for someone you know in ministry. We’ll be giving this book away at our Basic Trainings for Church Planters in Louisiana over the next year.


Thinking about numerical goals for 2012 & beyond. None challenges my faith more than ZERO. How about shooting for some of these?

  • Zero w/o the opportunity to respond to the gospel.
  • Zero homes destroyed by addiction, adultery, abuse, neglect.
  • Zero kids dying of curable diseases.
  • Zero elderly residents w/o life’s necessities.
  • Zero kids w/o encouragement, mentoring, and opportunity to connect w/God.
  • Zero suicides completed.
  • Zero kids waiting for adoption.

In our quest for numbers going up, let’s not forget to think about the ones that should be going down and add them to our stat sheets every now and then. Someone asked, “What difference does it make if our churches grow but the community continues to deteriorate?” If we’re really making disciples who respond to God’s call of engagement (Matthew 28:19-20), some things should be moving toward zero.

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