I remember when I first started thinking about planting a church. I listened to every podcast, read every book and blog, went to the conferences, and searched high and low for the secrets to figure out how to be an effective church planter. I remember one particular podcast I was listening to that had many planters and speakers from lots of different philosophies and models. They ALL had different secret ingredients and philosophies to see successful church plants started! I remember very clearly the inner struggle I faced trying to figure out what that looked like.
As I thought about it more, I realized that I was asking the wrong question. I was asking how to get my church to look like a preconceived idea of church. I had not even considered what a successful church was supposed to be.
That has to be where we start. What does success look like in the eyes of God? Is success the next megachurch? Does success look like the most people dunked under water? Does success look like the largest kids ministry? Or the best compassion ministry? Everyone had human identifiers on success.
I started thinking about the prophets such as Jeremiah, Isaiah, and others. Their ministries were pretty simple. Their main job was to share the truth of God to the people of God, so the people would turn back to God. However, the outcome of their ministry was not the perfect ending we could hope for. They had dismal results. Nobody listened! Were those prophets failures? By today’s ministry standards, yes. But not by God’s.
Successful ministry in the eyes of God is simply faithful, bold, risk-taking, dependent, and obedient ministry. It may or may not be flashy. It may or may not have huge followings. It may or may not have programs. But it should be marked by obedience to God and His call.