Success - Monday Musing, March 14, 2022
Success. Merriam-Webster™ dictionary defines success as “the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame; the correct or desired result of an attempt.” A business owner strives for a larger profit margin, a student seeks a 4.0 grade point average, and a politician seeks more votes than an opponent. To be successful, is it always about having a greater number? Does that mean a small church will never be successful?
Let’s be honest, we all love big numbers (especially the ones connected to our pay checks and bank accounts!), but the old adage holds true, money doesn’t buy happiness. And I dare add, it doesn’t mean you are successful either! Jesus calls us to seek first the kingdom of God and that the things we need will be given to us (Matt 6:33). In the life of the church, sometimes we get too hung up over the numbers – the pews are not as full as they used to be, we do not have children or a Sunday School, and the weekly collection isn’t paying all the bills. COVID-19 has exasperated the head counters because our documented statistics reflect that more people are attending Sunday worship online (and therefore not seen) than attending in person. (This not-so-surprising-fact surfaced as I compiled information for my report for this week’s Church Cabinet meeting).
While we can’t totally avoid numbers, Jesus tells us to feed my sheep (John 21:17b) – not count them! But how do we make disciples in a world that seems far different than when we first began our journey of faith in the church? The Apostle Paul says that the pastoral leader’s main responsibility is to empower the laity to do the work of the church (Eph 4:14). That is one tall order, especially given the fact that the demands on clergy are far greater now than they have ever been. Ministry is not a solo effort, however – it requires empowered laity to help accomplish the goals of ministry.
The work of ministry in the 21st century is challenging, and no single person can do all that needs to be done to change the world for good. Our church’s numbers may be small (newly adjusted membership numbers confirm we are 125 members strong), but united together we boldly proclaim a strong faith with one voice. And in my mind, that’s a huge success. See you in church!