May 10, 2008

"You're telling me my ministry has been a failure?"

A while back, I had a conversation with a pastor who was retiring after more than three decades of ministry in a local church.

This minister had just heard me speaking about the role of a leader in a healthy and growing congregation. I made the assertion that there is no such thing as a healthy church that is not a growing church.

After my talk, the minister approached me told me that he would be retiring in a few months after thirty plus years in the ministry. He had been with the current church for over twelve years. While he considered his church to be healthy, they had not grown during his entire tenure at the church. He then asked me, "So, according to you, my ministry has been a failure."

I responded to the man by saying, "It really doesn't matter much what I have to say or think about this. The thing that does matter is what God has to say about the purpose of our ministry. The great commission tells us that we are to make disciples of all nations and baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We are to be about growing new Christians and growing faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. During the twelve years that you've been a pastor at your current church the population of your city has more than doubled. Yes, I am afraid that your ministry did not do what God called us to do."

What else was I supposed to say. To tell this man that his ministry was a success? God did not call us to babysit people. God called us to be a part of a church that is growing by adding new Christians and helping every Christ-follower become a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ.

And that is my final answer.

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