“Go and make disciples of all nations…” Matthew 28:19 (NIV)It is clear that Christians are in the “discipleship business” and our mission can be simply stated, and is easily measured: Create Champions of Spirit-Led Success who will go on to disciple every member of their respective congregations to become the success God created them to be — to help people use all their God-given gifts and talents to their highest and best use — to actually become everything they are intended to be, to His service and glory.
In February of 2012, a man named Gregory Cunningham, the Founder of Success International Ministries, approached me, and we began talking about this notion of the word “success” in today’s churches — which led to several serious discussions and thoughts on the idea of, “What role does Jesus play in the success of believers?”
Greg knew me as Chairman of the Board of the world’s leading publisher of virtual training products for personal and professional excellence, and as a man who believes in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ… a man who knows that I had been saved by Grace, whose sins were covered by the blood of Jesus Christ.
Greg also realized that I am in a unique position to weigh in on a vital conversation: How do we effectively measure Christian success? So I am!
My Company, ThinkTQ, Inc. is in the business of measuring and improving human potential… your potential for lasting success: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. With hundreds of millions of data points in our enormous databases, we can see exactly where people are performing up to their full potential, and what they must do differently to immediately produce greater results, both personally and professionally.
In a way, we are in the business of measuring your heart’s desire — and your ability to actually live it! To our way of thinking, there is no greater opportunity than helping people achieve their full potential, then move on to teach others to achieve theirs.
Since we launched The Believer’s Guide for Achieving Success On Purpose: Winning Your 5 Most Important Missions in Life earlier this year, we have been surprised by the willingness of some ministers / ministries to enthusiastically embrace the concept of championing people to become a Spirit-Led Success — where others reject, out of hand, the notion of ministering to the whole person… personally, spiritually and professionally.
For whatever reasons, some ministers shun away from the conversation of helping their congregations achieve success, choosing instead to focus on doctrine, where other pastors see the logical (and spiritual) connection between the “real” of people’s lives, their struggles and their power to realize their greatest hopes and dreams.
Spirit-Led Success: God’s “Brand” of Success…
Yes, I am talking to and about you!
Your salvation has already been guaranteed, paid in blood by Christ. The question then becomes, knowing that you have been saved, what are you going to DO with the only life you have to live?
If the most elemental measurement of Christian success is found in your ability to create disciples who will go on to help others become the success they were meant to be, shouldn’t that be your calling, passion and purpose?
No question, as Christians we all want the same thing. We want to become a winner in the true sense of the Word.
We want to live in Victory and actually WIN our 5 most important missions in Christ (click image to above right for our Awaken The Spirit Within bulletin insert/handout. Please contact us for printed copies.)
1. You want to Win your FAITH MISSION: to continuously strengthen your relationship with God. Build your faith, and your faith will continue to mold you as a person…
2. You want to Win your PERSONAL GROWTH MISSION: to become what God expects of you… to wisely use all the gifts and talents He has given you… to become the best YOU possible. Improve the total you by “conforming into His image,” and you will greatly enhance your most important relationships…
3. You want to Win your RELATIONSHIP MISSION: to love and contribute to those closest to you — your family, life partners and friends. Grow your personal and professional relationships, you will naturally desire to expand your contribution to the church — to become a true Disciple of Christ in the broadest sense…
4. You want to Win your CHURCH/DISCIPLESHIP MISSION: to make a positive impact on the world you live in. Grow the church at large, and you create exciting new opportunities locally, nationally and globally to bring people to Jesus, and influence believers to grow in their relationships with Him.
5. You want to Win your CAREER MISSION: to improve your skills at your vocation and provide for the financial needs of those whom you love. Grow your career, and you will expand your capacity to achieve even greater GOALS as the Lord leads, directs and empowers — physically, emotionally, spiritually and financially — always working to complement His plan for your life.
Think about it for a moment. Shouldn’t the effective measurement of Christian success be in how many Champions of Spirit-Led Success we create… Champions who will go on to disciple every member of their congregations to become the success God expects them to be… to actually become DOERS of the Word… rather than just HEARERS of the Word?
“But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” James 1:22 (NAS)
It’s Time For a Change in Thinking…
What more does God expect from us other than to become everything He created us to be? We have all been given rich talents. We have all been given unique skills. We are each unique in God’s eyes — right down to our DNA.
Some of us have exceptional musical talents. A gift for math. The ability to invent, write or heal.
Do we glorify God when we intentionally pursue mediocrity? To go through the motions, playing small, deluding ourselves into expecting little and getting even less in return as we go through our daily lives? Of course not!
Christian Mediocrity. Now that may be the ultimate OXYMORON!
He created us to prosper, to actually WIN our missions on Earth through the intentional pursuit of EXCELLENCE.
“The world is full of abundance and opportunity, but far too many people come to the fountain of life with a sieve instead of a tank car, a teaspoon instead of a steam shovel. They expect little and as a result they get little.” ~ Ben Sweetland
If excellence in His name is the expectation, shouldn’t that be the measurement of Christian success? Most churches measure their success by the number of baptisms, marriages, offerings, and volunteer hours.
If this were working — if this was the effective measurement of success — wouldn’t the results show up in Christian America as a steady RISE in the creation of Believers who go on to become the body of Christ on Earth: His hands, eyes, feet, legs and heart? Believers who are true “doers of the Word?”
Instead, the results of the last 30 years has been a steady decline in the relevance of Christianity where the number of atheists/agnostics has steadily GROWN, at the expense of our society at large.
Isn’t it time to look at the Great Commission from a fresh new perspective and actually measure Christian success by how many disciples are created… disciples who go on to help others become everything God wants, hopes and expects them to be?
This may be the most important conversation of the decade, as the results of the last few years are nothing short of startling. To paraphrase St. James, “we must stop deluding ourselves and start doing what must be done to reshape the direction of Christianity for the future…”
1. One-in-Five Adults Have No Religious Affiliation: The number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a rapid pace. One-fifth of the U.S. public — and a third of adults under 30 — are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling. See Full Pew Study…
2. In the last five years alone, the unaffiliated have increased from just over 15% to just under 20% of all U.S. adults. Their ranks now include more than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics (nearly 6% of the U.S. public), as well as nearly 33 million people who say they have no particular religious affiliation (14%).
3. This large and growing group of Americans is less religious than the public at large on many conventional measures, including frequency of attendance at religious services and the degree of importance they attach to religion in their lives.
4. (Reuters March 9, 2012) – Banks are foreclosing on America’s churches in record numbers as lenders increasingly lose patience with religious facilities that have defaulted on their mortgages, according to new data.
The surge in church foreclosures represents a new wave of distressed property seizures triggered by the 2008 financial crash, analysts say, with many banks no longer willing to grant struggling religious organizations forbearance.
5. Pastorial burnout is at an all time high. According to the New York Times (August 1, 2010): “Members of the clergy now suffer from obesity, hypertension and depression at rates higher than most Americans. In the last decade, their use of antidepressants has risen, while their life expectancy has fallen. Many would change jobs if they could.”
- 45% of pastors say that they have experienced depression or burnout to the extent that they needed to take a leave of absence from ministry.
- 50% feel unable to meet the demands of the job.
- 52% of pastors say they and their spouses believe that being in pastoral ministry is hazardous to their family’s well-being and health.
- 70% do not have any close friends.
- 75% report severe stress causing anguish, worry, bewilderment, anger, depression, fear, and alienation.
- 80% of pastors say they have insufficient time with their spouse.
- 90% work more than 50 hours a week.
- 94% feel under pressure to have a perfect family.
- 1,500 pastors leave their ministries each month due to burnout, conflict, or moral failure. (The above statistics come from PastorBurnout.com.)
I offer these facts to jog you out of the delusional thinking that we are really making the grade as Christians, and everything is A-OK. If Preston Foster were writing this, he would proclaim as loud as he could…
“We’ve got TROUBLE…
YES WE GOT TROUBLE…
Right here in River City…”
As a CEO, I am trained to look beyond mere facts and the “heart of the matter” to the “faith of the matter.” Yes, the above is a good snapshot of the way it is.
But it doesn’t need to stay this way.
Christianity does not need to remain on a downward spiral for the next 5 years.
We can start a new revolution of Christian success here in America and in the world at large.
It’s time to field Champions of Spirit-Led Success — success resting on the 4 great pillars of Divine Illumination… Divine Inspiration… Divine Guidance… and Divine Revival… which firmly stands on the Divine Promise of Jesus to be the Light of the Earth… the Light of my life… the Light of my path.
With His Light we can not only see the path ahead, but confidently step into the future.
There is no time for status quo, business as usual thinking. This has moved beyond a crisis to a full blown emergency.
A ministry that grows Champions of Spirit-Led Success has a simple and effective measurement system: How many disciples have we created who will help others in the church become the success God wants them to be?
Like any leader or CEO, a pastor that fails his or her people, fails God Himself.
On a very personal note, I do feel the Lord has called me to be somewhat of an “external touchstone” to connect the dots between the promise of living the Holy Gospel, and the strategical and tactical process of performing on purpose.
What intrigues me intellectually and spiritually is the notion of the “real” measurement of the Christian heart… which is connected to the lungs… which is connected to the muscles… which is driven by our brains… which causes us to perform… which is very much a results-oriented affair.
As an “outsider looking in” it is my belief the true measurement of church success is not found in tallying up the offerings… or counting the marriages, deaths and baptisms… but something much more important and fundamental… the church’s ability to create Champions of Spirit-Led Success who will go on to disciple others to become the success God expects them to become… for His glory… and for the power of The Church here on Earth.
I see this problem as a fundamental disconnect on the same order of magnitude as confusing politics with economics. Each drives the other, but are totally different concepts.
Our stated mission is to create 400,000 Champions of Spirit-Led Success (in 2013) who will disciple others in their respective congregations to become the success God created them to be. The reality we face is longterm decline:
Note: One important factor behind the growth of the religiously unaffiliated is generational replacement, the gradual supplanting of older generations by newer ones. Among the youngest Millennials (those ages 18-22, who were minors in 2007 and thus not eligible to be interviewed in Pew Research Center surveys conducted that year), fully one-third (34%) are religiously unaffiliated, compared with about one-in-ten members of the Silent Generation (9%) and one-in-twenty members of the World War II-era Greatest Generation (5%). Older Millennials (ages 23-30) also are substantially less likely than prior generations to be religiously affiliated.
Enough TALK. We Must ACT…
Since 2010, millions more have joined the ranks of the Non-Believers.
To reverse this alarming trend, we will employ a bubble up strategy where the measurement standard is simple: How many Champions are discipling others to WIN their 5 most important missions in life: To become ever more faithful — to become a “doer of the Word, not merely a hearer of the Word”… to personally grow and use all their gifts and talents to the fullest extent possible… to strengthen and expand their marriages and relationships… to enhance their powers of leadership and discipleship… and to live in abundance, not a hand to mouth existence of mediocrity, instead a life of passion, purpose and excellence.
If the effective measurement of Christian Success is how many Champions are being created who go on to actually BECOME the body of Christ on Earth, then everything else falls in line:
More and happier marriages…
More baptisms where the children fulfill their promise…
Offerings reflecting prosperity, not poverty…
More volunteers that are loving more… serving better… and glorifying Him in every decision they make and every action they take…
And so forth.
The tangible side benefit is fewer people leaving the church, and more people doing the work necessary to build a lasting impact on the lives of believers and disbelievers alike.
I for one would feel totally comfortable being measured by God Himself on judgement day when he asks me…
“Eric, did you hear and understand the commandment to create disciples as written by Matthew?”
“Yes sir, I did” I would reply. “Greg and Sir John brought it up and asked if I could offer some insight into fast-tracking the process.”
“How’d that go — as if I don’t already know?” God said.
“Actually, we could have done better if we had a little more help from the hear-all do nothing crowd, but overall, with your help, we created 17 million Champions of Spirit-Led Success who went on to help 77 million Americans become the success you intended them to be.” said Eric confidently.
“Those folks went on to create a wave of positive change around the world, and by Greg’s last count, we had 440,000,000 new practicing Christians in 172 countries. Of course, you know the numbers better than me, but the key word here is PRACTICING Christians living up to their full potential… and YOUR expectations.”
“And just how did you know what I expected of them?” God said with a stern, but loving look.
“You told me, Greg, Kent, John and a whole lot of other folks that You had a plan for them… and it presupposed that they would use ALL — not just a tiny bit of what You have given them — to their fullest extent possible.”
“It follows by logical deduction that it would be hard to Glorify You if people failed to live up to their full potential… and by extension… by becoming energetic, positive, passionate, directed, on-point, focused, supportive and organized that they would use their precious time and energy taking action consistent with what you had planned for them.”
“WOW,” said God. “Pretty good interpretation of my Divine Direction if I must say so myself! Bottom line is that you created a world of leaders who went on to create a whole host of disciples who helped others discover and capitalize on their true gifts… doing as my Son promised, encouraged and expected.”
Now, wouldn’t THAT be the way YOU would want to be measured for a life well-lived in His name?!
To learn more about The Believer’s Guide to Achieving Success On Purpose, click the image below…