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More on Results in Ministry

At the moment, books are pouring off the presses telling us how to plan for success, how ‘vision’ consists in clearly articulated ‘ministry goals,’ how the knowledge of detailed profiles of our communities constitutes the key to successful outreach. I am not for a moment suggesting that there is nothing to be learned from such studies.But after a while one may perhaps be excused for marveling how many churches were planted by Paul and Whitefield and Wesley and Stanway and Judson without enjoying these advantages. Of course all of us need to understand the people to whom we minister, and all of us can benefit from small doses of such literature. But massive doses sooner or later dilute the gospel.

Ever so subtly, we start to think that success more critically depends on thoughtful sociological analysis than on the gospel; Barna becomes more important than the Bible. We depend on plans, programs, vision statements–but somewhere along the way we have succumbed to the temptation to displace the foolishness of the cross with the wisdom of strategic planning. Again, I insist, my position is not a thinly veiled plea for obscurantism, for seat-of-the-pants ministry that plans nothing. (read more)

D A Carson from The Cross and Christian Ministry: Leadership Lessons from 1 Corinthians

HT Nathan via Twitter

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3 replies on “More on Results in Ministry”

Thanks for the reminders. The thing is, lots of folk have been saying this sort of thing for years now, and especially in mission circles. But I don’t see much change in practice, ethos, communal lifestyle that answers the concerns, which are of course quite right and nicely put as well. It’s all very persuasive and good hearts and minds resonate.

What, though, will actually make the difference, which likely is not that hard to ‘figure out’. I’d say we need models, alternatives lived out…faithful risks to go about things another way, and likely this means learning from our more non-Western brothers and sisters, whether those are ‘true blue’ non-Westerns, the Eddie-types who have been transformed by non-Western experience, and/or the postmoderns (the real ones) who are ‘out there’ beyond the edges of the modern-West.

Oh, and I suppose some good ol’ fashion repentance might not go astray, though likely ‘we’ also need some guidance in exactly what to repent of/for. But ‘repentance’ without planning, i.e. true repentance is ‘just’ the other side of the faith that waits with openness and without one’s own agenda (which is in part what we’d be repenting of).

I’m not sure if it was Myers or Bosch that I read recently who said: ‘God calls us to be obedient, not successful’ or words to that effect.

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