At a church planting congress one expects that all the presenters are very successful church planters. Usually, each planted a church that has reached at least a thousand in attendance. In 2013, Bruxy Cavey was a presenter during an one such event in Oakville. Bruxy is a very accomplished preacher and founder of The Meeting House (a church of at least 5000 at the time). He stood up and told all those in attendance that he did not expect to be at the head table with Jesus at the great wedding feast at the conclusion of history. He noted that instead, we should expect that particular table to be full of regular ordinary servants of God who likewise persisted in faithful service all their days, but likely didn’t get to see the same kind of results. God would favour them, for they had been faithful in spite of the lack of results.
Bruxy suggested that God is actually not enamoured with results, because the real results of ministry in His Name are entirely His work. Our work is to be faithful to our calling, not to produce a particular result. He noted that the one who faithfully sowed seed and netted a 30-fold increase gets the same reward as the one who sowed seed and netted a 60-fold increase, and many are those in the “hall of faith” of Hebrews 11 who did not see a glamorous result at all. It was a very teachable moment for everyone there, seeing as most had come with the hope of finding out ‘the secret’ that enabled these few to gain such significant success by human metrics.
Jesus said, “Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
In other words, to be great in God’s sight is to simply practice and teach the Word of God in its entirety. That’s the whole thing. God does not judge us based on how many are in the church, or how much we spend on a particular ministry. He does not care to measure us by the number of people we welcome into membership in a given year, or the number baptized in that big public service we held in the park that summer. He does not mark down next to our name how many kids we drew into the Vacation Bible School that one summer. The number of Sundays we preach is never a metric He uses to establish eternal reward.
That reality is completely counter to how we see things. But we do well to consider that Job was a great man of God. Yet he started with many and a huge income and lost everything mid-career. Samuel was a great man of God. Yet he was rejected as leader of Israel in favour of a king. Noah was a great man of God. He started with tens of thousands and finished with eight. The result of our ministry is not up to us. It is up to God. What matters is the faithfulness with which we carry out the ministry God assigns to us.
That’s not to say that church metrics are not important. They are very important to the life of the local church and the community it is part of. Every elder board does well to measure a pastor’s performance in ministry by some kind of metric of discipleship. These things determine salary, the size of the ministry expense budget and other practical realities that affect our day to day schedules and responsibilities – but they do not determine God’s favor, nor will they guarantee His approval.
Only obedience and faithfulness do. Amen.
It is one thing to be faithful and quite another to be popular.Warren Wiersbe
Be encouraged. God is not going to judge you on a metric your peers apply. Only be faithful to the calling He gave you.