Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome


We had a really successful first Messy Church last night. More people came than we expected, many of them new to church, a lovely atmosphere, great crafts, a time of thinking about how little we know and why its crucial to know that Jesus is the light of the world and just enough food. It’s easy to start playing the numbers game, counting success in terms of attendance.

That’s why it’s important to keep in mind Kent and Barbara Hughes’ wise advice on what makes a ministry successful. In their book Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome they summarise success in this way:

To the best of our ability we are striving:

  1. To be faithful (obedient to God’s word and hardworking)
  2. To serve God and others
  3. To love God [my note: to love God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who died for my sins to make me right with God]
  4. To believe he is (to believe what we believe)
  5. To pray
  6. To pursue holiness
  7. To develop a positive attitude

This was our liberation and, may we humbly say, our success.

I am inclined to want to be successful in the eyes of the world (Enneagram no 3 – the achiever) which means seeking my glory and not God’s. It’s a great help to think through and apply the seven points above and leave any growth to God.

Can anyone add to the seven points above to keep Christian “success” in the right perspective? I always say “well done God” as he builds his church and establishes teams and draws people to Christ.

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One Response to Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome

  1. PeterB says:

    I was reading the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe to our two older kids last night, and it was the chapter where Aslan is killed. Brilliant stuff which draws out very well the fact that Jesus’ ultimate complete and total success looked like abject failure.

    Apologies for the lousy way of describing this, but when I’ve been about to do something which might ‘fail’ in my sight, I’ve found it helpful to remember that it will be God’s failure (a failure which belongs to him, not that he will have failed). Remembering that has helped to turn any hint of pride in success around to thanks and praise.

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