“For Miller, history was fundamentally ironic. Victory and achievement produce disappointment and disaster; progress results from causes other than one’s own intentions; and no advance is finally secure since all growth contains within it the seeds of a new and possibly more catastrophic decline. As the historian Henry May once summarized, “His works on Puritanism all illustrate the slogan that nothing fails like success.”
One of the interesting things about success is that we think we know what it means.
The same can be said for church growth. Many people write about it. Few have done it. Some have produced something that looks like church growth, but which is in fact a swelling of people or a selling of a product. Those who have done it may not be able to explain the true reasons for it. Some write from a biblical standpoint, and it is to scripture that we must go for the causes and contributions to church growth. But even then is it legitimate to write about what one has never done and does not plan to do, by obeying the Lord’s mandate?
We do ourselves a huge disservice when we treat the church like the business world. It is the utmost folly to appoint business men who have little spiritual content in their life to the eldership or the deaconate. Don’t get me wrong; a spiritually minded man, who is also a businessman, may do well in the eldership, or as a deacon, but many times we look at a man’s business acumen and fail to discern his spiritual qualities, or lack thereof. The church is not a business, and it should not be. What happens when the eldership and the deaconate become filled with unspiritual business men? We become results oriented. We measure things by the bottom line.
I’m not thinking just about money. The bottom line does not always have to be money. It can be completion of tasks or projects. It can be building repairs and improvements. It can be the implementation and management of programs. It can be an unhealthy focus upon works. It can be whether we deem our mission works “successful.” It can be our efforts at evangelism, counting bible studies or bodies baptized. It can be counting daily Bible readers, or counting the number of people who visited or whom we visited, or any number of other things wherein we can demonstrate “success” with a number. This is the heart of what it means to be results oriented. —Kevin Cauley