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Are we experiencing irrelevant success?

As of Sunday evening, May 16, 2021, 80% of gas stations in Washington D.C. are out of gas.

How surreal to be reading this headline, even in the midst of a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic.  I mean, we are making electric cars, for goodness sake.  How could we ever run out of gas?

This is a result of a cyber attack on the largest oil pipeline in the United States of America, a crisis that follows a ship recently getting stuck in the Suez Canal, a shortage of computer chips needed for everything from cars to devices, and an energy disaster in Texas leaving millions without power during freezing winter conditions.

What is the lesson that this should teach all ministry leaders who care about the future of the Church?

Here it is (at least, from my perspective):

the death of an organization is not predicted by the incompetence of its managers or by decline in customers, but by the irrelevance of its success…

Plenty of ships passed through that canal just fine.  Plenty of chips were being made all the time.  Plenty of energy was being distributed to people in Texas.  All of those industries were making plenty of money; things were fine.  Yet, none of that success helped prevent what precipitated such recent crises.

In ministry leadership, it is the same thing.  Local churches, regional bodies, and denominations celebrate things that are rightfully seen as “successes.”  No judgment there.  But, the second half of such celebration is the going back to calculate the relevance of those successes against the conditions of the future.

Gallup, Pew, Barna, and other organizations have provided the Church with great information as to our decline.  Great – it’s important to understand what’s going on.  What we should also do is to see who has stuck around, why they have done so, and (as difficult as it sounds) how it does or does not matter that they did.

James from PASTORIA
Head of Guidance
Co-Founder

Photo by Martin Adams on Unsplash