Friday, July 24, 2009

book review

I actually finished this one last week and forgot to write about it.

Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome by Kent and Barbara Hughes was recommended to me by my good friend Tom Rees after my church planters assessment. Yeah, I'm a little hard on myself . . . (uneasy laughter follows).

Overall, it's a great book. It really helped me to get good perspective on the things that God would counts as "success". Things like holiness, prayer, loving people, etc. Nothing new or mind-blowing, but a great reminder of truths that are so implicit in following Christ that they are easy to not think of so often.

But, there's a problem here. While I relate to and benefit tremendously from reading Kent's reflection of his early years in ministry being tweaked out by his apparent lack of success - i.e. a small church, and while I really do get that we ought not gauge our success as a minister solely on the size of our church, I cannot get myself free from the fact that numbers are important. This felt like yet another person who has lead large growing organizations preaching about how that is unimportant.Would he feel the same way if his church was 25 people his whole life? Would anyone have published his book if that were the case?

Man, I'm 36 years old, have been in full-time ministry just over 10 years and have yet to be the senior leader of an organization. I am far from having this figured out. My questions are true questions. I am wrestling with this and, as is often the case, diving into the issue leaves me more confused then ever. That being said, there is still something deep down in me that says a church leader who leads only a few people is not all that successful of a church leader. Do numbers of people you lead define your success? Not your success as a follower of Christ, but they do speak to the amount of influence you are carrying as a leader. I have to believe that influence is tied to success when you entire goal is to influence people toward being disciples of Christ.

So, I guess this book did not exactly "liberate" me in one fell swoop. I'm in the process and I would welcome your comments on this one. If only the world were black and white . . .

By the way, I see that you can still get used copies on for a penny. I think that's what I paid for mine. It's worth a lot more than that! I'd highly recommend this book to anyone in church leadership.

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