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Successful Ministry December 28, 2006

Posted by larrylaz in Random Musings, Scripture Meditation.


I’ll try to get an answer to your question from the last post later today or tomorrow, but I actually wrote this up and was ready to post it before I read your last post.  I was talking to a friend of ours yesterday about what makes ministry successful; certainly we in the Church have some very twisted ways of defining success! Probably the most common key to success in our pragmatic day is numerical growth. But that seems quite impossible given the life and ministry of our Lord when He walked the earth. For large crowds abandoned Him (John 6:66), and when He was killed on the Cross He had practically zero followers. By our contemporary mindset, Jesus was a failure.

So we tried to probe deeper, and considered that successful ministry is one that sees people grow in conformity to the image of Christ and passion for His renown. But even that understanding is off the mark, I think. Was Jeremiah a successful prophet? He was hated by those whom he ministered to, and saw little tangible “fruit” from his ministry. While we should be earnestly desiring to see fruit from our ministry, and should be praying for fruit to abound, that too is a wrong way of measuring success.

As we talked more, the Lord led me to 2 Corinthians 2. I think these words from the Apostle Paul are an excellent definition of successful ministry, and how out of whack they are to the values of the contemporary evangelical church:

“14But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? 17For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.”

Here is successful ministry: Men (and women, though not in leadership over men) of sincerity, commissioned by God who speak for Christ in the sight of God and spread the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere, spreading the aroma of life to some and the aroma of death to others.

May God grant that we be so successful as we serve others for Christ’s sake,




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