Thursday, April 19, 2007

Measuring Your Ministry

This past week, I’ve taken a 4-day blogfast as my husband and I spent our days at a conference for the pastors of small-town churches. We were an anomaly there in some ways.
First, neither of us are pastors.
It’s an unusual twist on the usual problem that pastors and their wives face in the congregation—social isolation. In this case, we were the “isolates”. Actually, we did have some peers in the group—the other two elders and their wives from our church. We are not a typical pastor-led church, so it’s always a bit dicey when we introduce ourselves and get rather blank stares from the clergy. Often, they seem to be a bit embarrassed to see us there, like finding a second-stringer elbowing his way into the starting line-up. We are on the same team, but not part of the inner circle. And I think most pastors (and especially their wives) deal with that “differentness” in their own lives, in their own churches.
On the other hand, our church is decidedly small, and we do have many of the same concerns for the ministry God has given us.
The conference theme was “Measuring Your Ministry”, and the speakers really did address the pitfalls of trying to measure God’s work against men’s standards. Kent & Barbara Hughes, authors of “Liberating Ministry From the Success Syndrome,” were pretty transparent about their own struggles in the numbers and expectations game and shared some practical ways to avoid falling into the same traps.
Phil Tuttle from Walk Thru The Bible spoke on thriving and surviving and did a super session on rediscovering the joys of ministry. He, too, was very real in telling about his own struggles with the success thing and how God led him to recognize real successes.
It was a refreshing time, and I’m glad we were able to go. RHMA will host another conference in Lancaster, PA, in May. I’d recommend it to any pastor of a small or small-town church—and perhaps even for the success-driven pastor of a large one.
What do you think is success in ministry?

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