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How do you measure success in ministry?

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January 14, 2017 by eric echols

I have a confession to make…I like crowds. The bigger the better. I love the energy of a crowded room. There’s nothing like looking across the sea of faces in the worship center at our church on Sunday morning when the room is jam-packed. I have a feeling I’m not the only leader that feels this way.

Thereʼs a reason Outreach magazine publishes the “Top 100 Largest Churches” & “Fastest Growing Churches” each year. Church leaders – LOVE CROWDS!  We often treat church leadership as a popularity contest. When we do, we run the risk of defining our success by the number of twitter followers we have and the masses we can attract to our next event.

Don’t get me wrong…as leaders we should strive to influence as many people as possible. However, Jesusʼ leadership strategy is very different from the one we see modeled at many churches today.

His focus wasn’t on gaining for MORE followers or reaching larger crowds. As a matter of fact, we often see Jesus escaping from the crowds with his disciples. On numerous occasions, Jesus would tell people NOT to spread the word after he had performed a mind-blowing miracle. I seriously doubt I would tell people to keep quiet if I could make the blind see and had the power to heal lepers. NO, I’d say ʻgo tell everyone and have them at my next eventʼ… remember, I like crowds!

Jesus had a four part strategy for having long term impact and changing the world.

1. Jesus INSTRUCTED the Crowds

Jesus could draw a crowd! He often taught thousands of people at a time. Jesus had compassion on the crowds…But his goal was not to go from town to town in an effort to simply attract a crowd

He called them to follow him and taught them the cost of discipleship.

2. Jesus INSPIRED the 70

Luke 10:1 “The Lord now chose seventy-two other disciples and sent them ahead in pairs to all the towns and places he planned to visit.”

Jesus sent this group out with detailed instructions. They were to go out in pairs and expect opposition. He expected them to perform miracles and usher in the Kingdom of God. have an impactful ministry. Jesus INSPIRED this group to “go” do the work of ministry.

If the crowds represent our congregation or individual ministries, then the 70 represent our volunteer teams.

We are to call them to something BIGGER then themselves…

We are to give them clear expectations…

We are to intentionally team them up for community & connection.

Then we are to send them out!

Notice that Jesus didn’t set out to spend his earthly ministry trying to do everything by himself. If he had, his vision would have failed! He had to mobilize a team to carry out the vision. Jesus knew that his role, while on this earth, was to give the ministry of advancing the Kingdom away to others.

3. Jesus INFLUENCED the 12

Jesus didn’t come to win the world, He came to die for the world!
That’s why Jesus hand picked a circle of friends to draw close. They were the ones he shared His daily life with and the ones he had enough time to influence. He poured into them. He discipled them. He trained and equipped them. Jesus entrusted them with the power to do the work he himself had done. In fact, he promised them that they would actually do greater things then he would. Because of this influence, they were not just PASSIONATE about the vision, they OWNED it, and it OWNED them!

As a result of his investment, this ragtag tribe of 12 started a movement that would reach the world!

4. Jesus IMPACTED the 3

From the circle of twelve, Jesus chose a core of three. These were the ones that He saw the most potential in and took them with him to the “intimate” places. He allowed them to witness his greatest glory (see Mark 9:2–3) and his deepest temptation (see Mark 14:33–34). He prayed with them (see Luke 9:28) and He taught them things He did not teach the others (see Matthew 17:2; Mark 5:37–43).

While Jesus Instructed the crowds, Inspired the 70, Influenced the 12…he truly Impacted the 3.

When Jesus left this world, he left the entire future of his Church in the hands of a dozen, “untrained & uneducated men.” But…obviously Jesus’ strategy paid off. By Acts 17, His disciples had turned the world upside down. In 318 A.D., Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. And, here we are over 2000 years later carrying on the message of God’s Kingdom.

Here’s my observation of many leaders in the church. We focus on the first 2 strategies:

    • We love to gather a crowd
    • We are pretty good at inspiring & mobilizing groups for specific tasks

However…

    • Very few have true influence with a small group of leaders
    • Many never impact a close core.

And as a result…we measure our success by the crowds we gather and the teams we lead.

We have to ask ourself…

Am I trying to carry the vision by myself, burning the candle at both ends just to get things done…while simply giving tasks to my volunteer team?

Or am I investing in and equipping a group of leaders that will move things and go places I never imagined possible?

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