- Bringing people to faith.
- Being a positive presence in the community.
- Drawing people of all ages to worship services.
- Reaching out to the poor and needy.
- Meeting the budget.
Most responses to that question suggest that "success," in terms of the church, is determined by numbers and/or dollars. But is it? That depends on our definition of "success."
I have found that many folks, inside and out of the church, can't even define "success." And if we don't know what we're striving for it's rather difficult to know if we've achieved it. The old adage is true: If we aim at nothing, we'll hit it every time.
That axiom not only applies to the church. It's true of our personal lives as well. If we can't even define what a "successful" life is, how can we expect to live one?
The working definition I offer at church leadership retreats is this: A successful church is a church that accomplishes its mission.
If a church's mission is to reach out to those who don't know Jesus with the good news of the Gospel, it doesn't matter how many children attend their Vacation Bible School if all the kids come from that church or surrounding churches. If all the attendees already know Jesus it doesn't matter if 5,000 kids show up, the effort was a failure. It didn't accomplish what the church stated they wanted to accomplish.
All successful churches have a mission statement--a clearly defined declaration of their aims and values. Successful churches know they are successful because they have met the goals they set. Success in our personal lives is determined the same way. We are successful when we accomplish our life's mission.
I have never met a person who didn't want their lives to be a "success." But I have met countless people who have no clue what true "success" in life even looks like. Well here it is, folks. Don't miss this.
The key to success is to know your mission and to live it out.
Our great God has created us for a purpose. We have all been wired to accomplish very specific tasks that only we--out of all the people in the world--can carry out. The Creator has given each of us talents, abilities, experiences, and passion that no one else on earth has. We must discover what our unique mission in life is, then articulate it.
After floating through life for years, not really sure of where I was going, let alone when I was going to get there, I was challenged at a spiritual retreat to come up with a personal mission statement; to take some time alone with God to determine how He might deem my life successful in light of the talents, abilities, experiences, and passion He had given me.
That time away with God was, quite literally, a defining moment in my life. In the solitude of the woods bordering the shoreline at the Indiana Dunes State Park, my Creator made me aware of precisely why I was created. My mission: To make an eternal difference in the lives of others by helping them to experience the love, healing, and grace of our Heavenly Father.
Having that personal mission statement has been tremendously freeing. It has given me a heavenly perspective of my life. It has allowed me to operate out of my passion, unhindered by the trappings of "success" as the world defines it. My success is not dependent on how many books I sell, how many people sign up for my conferences, or how much money I make. I am successful when I help other people to feel a Father's love, perhaps for the first time. I am successful when I enable hurting souls to discover a God who longs to heal them and bind up their wounds. I am successful when I lead those who have been judged, condemned, and treated unfairly to encounter God's unfathomable grace.
Do you want to be a success in the business world? In your community? In your marriage? As a parent? As a Christian? Ask God to make your mission clear. Write it down. Memorize it. Recite it every morning when you get up. Then live it out. You will be more successful than you could ever imagine.