Success as a Church Pastor?
What does that look like, what is it, is it something I want?

I have been thinking about this for sometime. The old arguments of being faithful get a little stale. So does the ‘if you have a big church’ you are succesful.
Some of my good friends are pastors of churches which run at about 300-400. Does this make them succesful Pastors? I dont think so, not if the church was running at that number when they came in.
Does a church which grows significantly in numbers under their leadership make them succesful? Not necesarily either. In fact I have seen in the past few years numerous Pastors see their churches grow significantly, but when a real analysis of the people coming in is made, it is obvious that their church is just doing church better. I am not hugely criticial of this because we should be doing church well, and we often settle for mediocricy and plain laziness. What does concern me is when we deliberatly foster a consumer mentality because it suits our aims of drawing in a big crowd.
We are not yet a church consuming society as may be the case in the US, where stories of people driving down the freeway looking for a church to attend on the Sunday, in much the same way as they look for a restaurant on Saturday night, are prevelant.

Obviously the real key to success is in spiritual fruit, and the foremost importance is mission, leading people to Christ.

Therefore as the key leader in any church, I believe the SP must have evangelism as his primary gifting and focus. Instead of this we have favoured those who are good chaplains and good politicians. The less fuss you make, the less waves you create, the longer you get to keep your job.

But even if Pastor makes evangelism his key focus, it can lead to issues as well, where a group of Pastors think it is okay to abuse and insult and hurt the congregation because of their own agendas.

Another group of people, normally not associated or responsible to anyone, think it is okay to critique and criticise while doing nothing in community. Being a part of a community is hard work, being responsible and accountable to people is hard work, putting up with each other is hard hard work. My heart aches when we stand on the sidelines doing nothing, being accountable to no on, yet feeling it is our God given right to pour brown stuff all over those who are trying.

My version of success is this, a group of people who are cared for spiritually, whose families are cared for, whose children are seen as a priority. Yet this same group of people is also cared about too much to leave them in comfort. Instead they needed to be resourced, trained and kept accountable to be missionaries in their own context.
This is in my view the hardest ministry there is, and maybe why so many good younger leaders are saying, ‘barleise’, I want out of the traditional church community type of ministry.
The problem may just well be that many of my contemporaries have also opted out, and instead focused on what is easier to do as a pastor, either giving up on the church community altogether, or focused on being a chaplain as their foremost responsibility.

What I am struggling with at the moment in my own ministry is what is the key? Specifically what is the key to seeing Aussie men come to Christ. I am talking normal Australian men. You see we have seen a number of women come to know Christ in 2005. But what about their husbands? I have this vision or God given thought, that when one of them makes a decison, and I believe I know who he is, when he finally makes his decision, this will unlock the rest of them. I know this sounds disjointed, but it is what I feel God is saying to me.

7 thoughts on “Success”

  1. It’s something we have to deal with so often in a variety of ways with pressure coming from others and often form ourselves-especially in our pride, arrogance and hurts which cause us to want to succeed in order to feel good.
    In “Velvet Elvis” Rob talks about killing the “Super Pastor” inside him that needed to be succesful in order to live.

    Why do we have to succeed?

    In that, I mean we know what success isn’t i.e. the growth you talked about. But I seem to have these different conversations that are asking the same question.

    Can we just chill out, seek to be faithful to God and walk the journey, trusting that God will lead us.

    I’m onw of those who looked at the traditional church and said I don’t like heaps of what goes on so I’ll start something different. yet, the grass isn’t always greener and I still struggle with the same desires and pressures.
    Probably cos I still sin (eve though I’m a saint!)

  2. Mark,

    The key to success is placing God’s Word at the center of all aspects of the ministry.

    Psalms 19:7-11
    7 The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul;
    The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
    8 The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
    The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
    9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;
    The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether.
    10 They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold;
    Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.
    11 Moreover, by them Your servant is warned;
    In keeping them there is great reward.

    Matthew 4:3, But He (Jesus) answered and said, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'”

    Romans 10:13-15, “for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.” 14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? 15 How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!”

    2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

    Hebrews 4:12, “…the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

  3. Mark,

    I ran across this while I was reading, after I posted…

    “Throughout the history of the church the greatest preachers have been those who have recognized that they have no authority in themselves and have seen their task as being to explain the words of Scripture and apply them clearly to the lives of their hearers. Their preaching has drawn its power not from the proclamation of their own Christian experiences or experiences of others, nor from their own opinions, creative ideas, or rhetorical skill, but from God’s powerful words. Essentially, they stood in the pulpit, pointed to the Biblical text and said in effect to the congregation, ‘This is what this verse means. Do you see the meaning as well? Then you must believe it and obey it with all your heart, for God himself, your Creator and you Lord, is saying this to you today!’ Only the written words of Scripture can give you this kind of authority in preaching.”

    Wayne Grudem – Systematic Theology, Page 82, Chapter 4: The Authority of Scripture

  4. Hey Mark, good thoughts on success. I’ve given up on it. I think obedience is a better guide.

    But I don’t think the SP’s primary gifting needs to be evangelism! Eph 4.11 – the gift of the evangelist is different to the gift of the pastor (or pastor/teacher). Given the Bible doesn’t talk about ‘Senior Pastors’ anywhere, it certainly doesn’t say that they must be an evangelist!

    Similarly, I’m not sure that evangelism necessarily should be the SP’s primary focus, either (although it might be). But if we understand the role of the SP (or any leader) as equipping the church, and that evangelism is a part of the key priority of the church (the Great Commission contains both disciple making and disciping maturing), then I think you will have achieved the right emphasis. Granted, Paul told Timothy to do the work of an evangelist, but that only implies he wasn’t primarily an evangelist (else he wouldn’t have needed that exhortation)!

    I think the key is found in the guidance of God. Jim Cymbala – Prayer. Hybels – evangelism. Warren – purpose driven. Someone else, something else. It’s the hard yards of ministry, hearing God, isn’t it?

    I enjoy your blog, it provokes me and makes me think!

  5. Thanks for all your comments, I appreciate them all.

    I dont think I want to succeed to make myself feel good about myself, I want to succeed because…

    Jesus commands me to bear fruit, and by fruit I mean lives changed forever.

    I want to succeed because people are going to a Christless eternity and need to hear and respond to the good news.

    I think the SP has to be the primary person who calls the church to action/evangelism because they are the one setting the vision for the church community.

  6. I think that comment that the SP should be the one setting the vision for evangelism is a lot closer to the mark. Certainly if the SP doesn’t, probably no one else will… or can.

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