Great question, isn’t it? For most in contemporary evangelicalism, success is determined by nickels and noses (budget/people). As we come to the conclusion of our series of posts on Total Church, the authors come to our aid and define success in terms of:
two competing models of growth: larger congregations versus more congregations (urging church plants over sheer numbers)
two competing models of leadership: leadership as performance versus leadership as enabling (urging leaders to faithfulness not busyness)
two competing models of success: a church of glory versus a church of the cross (urging Cross-centered weakness as a model for demonstrating God’s power)
This was really the icing on the top of the cake for me.
This balance is further expressed in the conclusion where the authors write:
Our proposals should not be viewed as a recipe for success nor a guarantee of authentic ministry. Christianity is not a strategy or a set of principles. It is a relationship of love with the Triune God. The gospel word and the gospel community must be central to Christian practice. But our hearts should be fixed on the grace of God, the love of God, and the glory of God. The only true center of Christian existence is God himself. (p.203)
So there it is full circle. This book has really helped me as a pastor to be more God-centered and to keep my eyes on Him, while I still pursue the wise engagement of outsiders. I commend this book to you in that regard.