Success Is…

Every once in awhile a book comes out that is so needed I feel like, “Thank God someone wrote that.” That’s how I feel about The Measure Of Our Success a book written by Shawn Lovejoy to challenge pastors with how they think about church and success. Doing a couple posts inspired by the book…

Lovejoy gives three “measures” of success:  (1) “Success is being faithful with what we have,”  (2) Success for a church is not measured by how many the attendance grows by, but by how many we can assimilate. He writes, “If our attendance growth comes at the expense of our ability to disciple people, we have not been successful.” And (3) “In the Gospels, Jesus and the apostles measured success by stories more than by numbers.”

Ummmm, yeah. There is such a danger today where churches measure success by attendance.  Do you know how easy it is to get people to just show up?  We can bring in exciting guest speakers, tell people what they want to hear, give away anything starting with a lower case “i” (Pad, Pod, Poop) (maybe not Poop). When we focus on measuring attendance: 

  • There’s a temptation to do things that drive up attendance but won’t lead people to follow Jesus.
  • Churches become okay with drawing people from other churches instead of joining Jesus’ mission of “seeking and saving the lost.”
  • It’s easy to get so caught up in the number of attenders we’re getting that we lose focus on the number of disciples we’re making.
  • Church planters are tempted to go to the suburbs where there’s “low hanging fruit” instead of the dark and difficult places Jesus would have gone.

This is why I wish the “lists” would stop being “biggest churches” and “fastest growing churches.” If we’re going to have lists, how about of the churches with the most radical followers, with the most community impact, or with the best stories of dramatic life change?