Rethinking the Successful Church by Samuel D. Rima
If your ministry isn’t growing toward mega-church size, something must be wrong. Right? Not necessarily. This eye-opening book acknowledges the positive contributions of the mega-church and today’s emphasis on growth but calls for a more balanced perspective on church success.
Samuel Rima develops a comprehensive measurement based on both qualitative experience and quantitative results.
Here are some of the things I highlighted:
…the stark reality is that much of what fuels this obsession (to grow your church) is actually a desperate desire and need to succeed in one’s chosen field of endeavor, this providing a measure of self-validation.
…when evangelical seminaries and denominations utilize the pastors of these churches (large churches) as keynote speakers and guest lecturers to the exclusion of pastors of lesser renown, they subtly imply that the famous mega-churches are the ecclesiastical benchmark by which all churches should be measured.
…many in pastoral ministry today are looking to derive their personal happiness and sense of worth as a person from their success in ministry.
…we need joy and a deep sense of spiritual satisfaction that can come from simply being a small part of God’s process.
Today we live in a culture of success.
There comes a time when those of us involved in ministry must come to grips with the awesome realities of God’s sovereignty and the implications that it has for our own personal success.
Just because our church is not growing at the rate we have planned for does not mean God is displeased with us or that we have somehow missed His will.
…God may want to teach the leader something that can be taught only through not allowing the church to grow for a season.
For me, success in ministry has become much more qualitative than it is quantitative.
The reality is that it is entirely possible to manufacture phenomenal church growth and produce dramatic tangible indicators of success, while at the same time accomplish nothing of any genuine eternal value.
The task of redefining our understanding of success will not be an easy one. Over the course of a lifetime we have had drilled into us a cultural view of success that is not easy to shake.
At some point on our ministry journey we have got to realize that we can build the biggest church in the world and actually see thousands of people coming to Christ, and still be an abysmal failure in the eyes of God. If our motives are impure, our methods dubious, and our personal character and spirituality seriously flawed, I do not believe God considers us successful. When people come to Christ through the ministry or work of such a ministry practitioner it speaks more of God’s faithfulness to his Word than it does to that minister’s success.
Three questions Rima asks himself to determine if he is successful:
- What is the current state of my relationship with God?
- Am I truly enjoying my ministry?
- How am I treating people?
Without a question one of the sure signs that I have developed a perverted view of success is when I begin to use people as a means to my ends, rather than loving and motivating them to accomplish God’s purposes.
Manipulation involves attempting to move people in a direction for your own personal benefit, while motivation involves inspiring people to move in a direction for your mutual benefit as a congregation, in a way that will honor and glorify God. How am I handling the suffering that is part of ministry?