Friday, June 18, 2010

How to measure success as a pastor

Many pastors measure their success by looking at the size of the crowds they preach to. If the crowds are generally getting bigger, they feel successful. Their church members tend to use the same measure. If the crowd is growing, the pastor is successful. Pastors that have the biggest congregations in a city or denomination are considered elite.


This would be fine if the vision and goal of the church was to grow to be the biggest church in the area. But that is not what churches are called to do. They are called to bring the gospel to all peoples and reach their entire communities for Christ. It is impossible for any one church to do that. Impossible. It will never happen.


Communities are made up of so many different people with different personalities, social classes, languages, skin colors, work schedules, education levels and music preferences that no one church is ever going to be attractive to all of them. No pastor is going to be able to prepare a message with a low enough common denominator for that many different kinds of people. No one church is going to logistically be able to accommodate the sheer number of people, not even in a football stadium.


But why wouldn’t the pastor of a church that grows to 3000 people automatically be considered successful? Many would consider that wildly successful, and in many respects it may be. But, if the measure of success is reaching a community, how successful is it really? What percentage of the community of a city of 400,000 did that church reach? Less that one percent. Only three-fourths of a percent, actually. A drop in the bucket.


Pastors who want to lead their churches to reach the entire community or city need to find a way step back from being the face of the ministry. Like John the Baptist, they must decrease so that Jesus can increase. If a pastor really seeks to reach an entire city or community, he is going to have to stop counting his success by the number of people are listening to his teaching. The “score card” needs to change to show what progress is being made to reach an entire community, rather than what progress is being made to fill a building.


Here are just a few practical measures of success for pastors intent on reaching the community beyond their own church (the other 99.25 %):


1 How many new social groups, language groups, racial groups, affinity groups have been engaged with the gospel?
2 How many new leaders are you discipling, training and releasing to ministry?
3 How many new leaders are those leaders discipling, training and releasing to ministry?
4 How many social silos and communities are being prayed for adequately by yourself and your disciples?
5 How many new evangelistic family/friend (oikos) bible studies have started? How many have reached the point of baptisms?
6 How many new churches of newly baptized Christians have we planted?
7 How many of those churches have started new churches?
8 How many access ministries have started? How many of those have yielded a person of peace?
9 How many communities remain unreached?  (lower the better)
10 How many new churches that you wouldn’t really fit into has your ministry started?

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