Countless blogs and books have been written on ministry success. The church growth movement has been notorious for the amount of resources printed, and the evangelical church has eaten it up. There is always a demand for people looking for fast solutions. People want to quickly earn money, learn challenging skills, plant churches, and lead awesome ministries. Pastors want to find the secrets to successful ministry. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

The secret to successful ministry is longevity.

Writing a book on longevity in ministry won’t make you a lot of money. Most people probably won’t listen to you, but it’s exactly what we need to hear. Too many pastors and planters quit before they have time to see their ministries flourish. When problems become difficult, they give up.

What Success Really Means

When success is measured by external factors (ie. butts, budgets, and baptisms), it becomes very easy to become pragmatic and look for ways to artificially create the above. Success must be measured by genuine, heartfelt obedience to the call God has placed on a pastor and planter’s life. External factors are great for bragging rights and building egos, but they are not necessarily indicative of healthy ministry.

Sequoia Trees Don’t Grow Overnight

In California, redwoods and sequoias are massive trees that grow incredibly tall. They don’t grow like that overnight. It took a lot of time for those trees to grow as big as they did. Making disciples is a lifelong process. While we are called to multiply in discipleship, healthy ministries can’t be arbitrarily manufactured. While we should be always conscious of ways to do things faster and more efficiently, we need to be careful to evaluate our methods on the basis of real discipleship.

Longevity Doesn’t Mean Doing Nothing

Unfortunately, there are some in ministry who would read an article like this and think this means that we are supposed to sit back and do nothing. They may even use arguments like these as an excuse for them to be lazy. That is the farthest from the truth. Ministry, when done appropriately, is hard work. It’s a lot of blood, sweat, and prayer. We need church planters who are comfortable combining hard work and longevity. This shouldn’t be to the point of burnout, but they need to have the discipline and fortitude to stick it out and do what needs to be done for the long haul.