It’s possible to “successfully” start the wrong church!
I’ve seen leaders successfully launch a church that didn’t fit its community. I’ve seen others successfully start a church that didn’t fit their personal sense of calling and style. Either way – it’s possible to successfully fail… if you’re using the wrong scorecard.
A good question is to ask what “success” looks like? What will we count when measuring progress? What does our scorecard look like?
John the Baptist had a bad scorecard. John’s disciples showed up in Matthew 11 to ask Jesus a very pointed question: “Are you the one or should we look elsewhere?” This question, coming from John, was a firm nudge from John to Jesus, that conveyed a clear message – “Come on, get with the program son.” Jesus wasn’t doing the things John expected to see Messiah do… so hence this barbed question.
Is John the only one? John’s ministry was coming to a truly “successful” conclusion – he had accomplished what God had sent him to do! In Jesus’ words John was a roaring success! (Matt 11:11) And yet, in John’s mind his own ministry looked incomplete and unsuccessful. The scorecard John was using had him thinking Jesus was failing. John’s goals and objectives didn’t line up with what God wanted done – and he found himself guilty of trying to teach Jesus how to be a better Messiah.
Unfortunately, John’s not the only leader who has done that! It’s comforting to realize that I am not alone in getting things wrong… in calling failures a success, or calling successes a failure.
Jesus’ response to John was pointed… “Go back and tell John what you see happening here. And tell him blessed is the man who is not offended by me.” In other words, “John, you’re not going to tell me how to be successful… I know what success looks like, and this is it.”
Application? I wonder how many of us have the wrong scorecard? How many of us are thinking our ministry is failing when from Messiah’s perspective it’s spot on! And how many of us think we’re successful – when we’re actually missing the point.
Jesus’ parting words in Matthew 11 posit a solution to a wrong scorecard: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden (…because you’re trying to do ministry your own way), and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you (…join me in the work that I’m doing) and learn from me (don’t be trying to teach me to do ministry your way), for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.