More than just activities and projects
A few days ago, someone asked me if we had a successful summer. This question led me to think about our ministry and all we accomplished in just two months with the help of short-term teams.
I can make a list of the main projects that we accomplished: Ministry Center Construction Project, Pastoral Ministry Workshops, Water Filtration systems, Street Carnivals, Bicycle Repair, and Eye Clinics.
Our modern Western culture tends to measure success in terms of numerical growth or achieving visible goals. “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” is a common adage in the business world. But in ministry, if we adopt a business model of success, the results might lead to questioning God’s call, discouragement, and doubt. I’m not saying results do not matter; I firmly believe that measurable goals and numbers are necessary, but the question is, what should we measure when we try to measure success in ministry? What we measure says a lot about what we intend to build.
Success is not always visible in ministry.
A faithful and “successful” ministry may not present obvious and immediate fruit. On January 8th, 1956, five North American missionaries were killed by the people they intended to reach with the gospel. Shortly after their deaths, many deemed Operation Auca a failure. But God used their obedience and faithfulness to bring the Waodani people to Christ. [click here for the full story]
Success in ministry is measured by faithfulness.
In the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 The real test of each servant is not what they have been given (Five, two, or one talent) or their return on investment. The condemned servant was not judged because he did not achieve the same result as the other two servants. The issue upon which all the servants were tested was their faithfulness.
The results of our service do not determine success in our ministry. Success is determined by how faithful we are in accomplishing the task God has given us.
Ministry produces supernatural results.
Supernatural results cannot always be measured. God is always working, and His work is not always visible.
John 5:17 “…My Father is always at his work to this very day…”
Ministry is about people and connections with a purpose. Sometimes we get caught up in the numbers when we try to measure success, and we forget that people are more than just a number, and ministry is more than just activities and projects. I believe this past summer was one of the most successful summers for our ministry, and the reason for that success is not based on numbers or projects completed. This past summer, I saw our staff and disciples’ abilities, skills, and gifts in ways I have never seen before. We witnessed the indigenous Wayuu church coming out of its cultural shell to make Christ known and proclaim the gospel. We witnessed Wayuu pastors serving their communities with their disciples. We witnessed God providing resources for ministry from the most unexpected sources. We witnessed God’s sovereignty making a way in situations where there was no way.
This summer, I was reminded of a few lines that our founder and friend Mark Kreikemeier wrote in his journal on his first mission trip to Venezuela in 2009.
“I’m starting to see that when we as Christians establish our own boundaries, we tend to stay inside those boundaries because we feel very comfortable there. If we continue to do this, God can only use us so much. But when we allow God to establish our boundaries, He can use us in a mighty way!”
This summer, we witnessed 45 believers from the United States, in obedience allowing God to expand their boundaries, dying to themselves and, like John the Baptist, stating through actions, “He must increase, but I must decrease” John 3:30.
That is success!
Hebert J. Rincon
Bread of Hope – Director of Operations