Some of the most refreshing conversations that I have are with pastors who are resisting success. I’m not saying they are unsuccessful. But I would be quick to point out that they think about success differently than many of their colleagues.
The default assumption is that a “successful” church is one that is experiencing steady (and hopefully rapid) growth in worship attendance. Based on this assumption, anything that draws more people to worship is worth doing (or expanding). If the worship space is full, adding another service or looking for a larger venue is the obvious solution.
The pastors who are resisting success also want their churches to reach more people, but they want to see those people grow deeper and more committed in their faith. They want to create a pace and culture for staff and volunteers that is sustainable for the long run. They pay attention to turnover, both in the church’s membership and among leaders.
As a result, pastors who resist success might prioritize the development and deepening of existing leaders, even though doing so might not draw more people to worship. They might not add another worship service because their bench is not yet deep and their existing leaders are at their capacity. They might only start small groups when they have mature, trained leaders, even if that means turning people away.
In truth, these pastors are not resisting success. They are resisting the pressure to chase after a fleeting version of success. They’re able to do so because they have a well-developed understanding of success that is grounded in Scripture and is articulated in the vision of their churches. That’s the kind of success that should not be resisted.
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