Saturday, December 15, 2012


"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations" says Jesus to his eleven apostles at the end of the gospel of Matthew. At the end of the Billy Graham crusade there should've been a Seven Up style longitudinal study. Colin Marshall and Tony Payne summarise where I'm going with these remarks:
Numerical growth is not necessarily an indicator of gospel growth. (Mind you, numerical failure is not an indicator of gospel growth either - we are not suggesting that small churches inherently foster more growth than larger ones!)
(The Trellis and the Vine, 83)

The temptation in ministry is to measure success through the number of conversions. By this measure, some of the heretical sects (eg Mormons) and other religions (eg Islam) are technically doing far better than Evangelical congregations. These comments aren't made to denigrate conversions, discipleship is a long journey made up of many moments of repentance and conversion. CS Lewis was converted rationally and then imaginatively, when Tolkien explained that God was the King of both mythology and rationality. The gospel is for everyone, at every stage of their life and for every aspect of their life!

The Fall corrupted everything and so measuring ministry is like putting an octopus in a string bag. Therefore when it comes time to measure a ministry we should be both careful and subversie, measuring both cups of tea served and the number of baptisms. Additionally discipleship should be the ultimate frame through which a ministry should be measured. We did this and this in order that discipleship might take place and these people grew in this way, across this period of time.