By Shannon Youell
In ministry, in church planting, in new initiatives, and in life and business, humans are always measuring. We weigh, we compare, we assess, we reassess, we deconstruct and we construct. These processes are all good, useful and vital. However, we must be aware of what metric we are using in our measuring, comparing and weighing.
What Does it Profit…
In a capitalistic society our metric is usually productivity and profit. When productivity is high and profit is good, we consider things successful. When our children go to university and acquire a good career, we consider them successful (and we consider ourselves successful too!). When our church is filled to capacity, we consider ministry successful.
The Gospel, however, demands a different metric; in fact, the entirety of the Story of God and humans demands a different metric. The metric of success as worshippers of God, disciples of Jesus, sent missionaries into our lived spaces, is faithfulness and fruitfulness. Here’s a helpful thought from Forge Canada on this paradigm shift.
Engaging Gospel: What Does Success Look Like?
As our church calendar moves towards the fall, and as CBWC Staff encourage our churches to join in the shared Engaging Gospel series, we’ve been pondering what our metric or success in this series would look like.
One of our prayers is that, as we engage the gospel of the kingdom of God anew, we will find ourselves rediscovering how amazing and transforming it is. The God who loves us, in the midst of our brokenness, suffering and struggle to find our way, sends His Son Jesus to bring us back to the heart of God’s kingdom story. Jesus’ great sermon expounds on God’s way of loving God, selves and others. He tears down the hierarchical boundaries of who is in and who is out by pouring out grace on all.
God’s great work of redemption, reconciliation and restoration begins with Jesus, as the one who calls humans back to God’s heart and reminds us of God’s covenant with us; as the one who is the last sacrifice for the sins of the world; and as the one who is Lord of our lives and to whom we pledge allegiance in how we live, work, play and pray.
Engaging the gospel is more than reciting God’s plan for these things, it is actually living into it in ways that bring healing, peace, hope, love, joy and grace to all people’s, to point them ever more deeply towards Jesus as king of our lives now and forever.
As we relearn, rethink and reimagine the gospel, and as we pray for God’s help in moving that gospel into the reality of our neighbour’s lives, we cannot help but be transformed ourselves to love God and others with everything we are and have.
Perhaps, then, we as a family of churches can begin to measure how we engage with people who do not yet know Christ yet. How do we care for those who have rejected organized religion as oppressive, or who cannot see God as loving because of the way humans, including Christian humans, have often treated one another?
Maybe it’s time to start counting the conversations our church members have with those of a different faith. Maybe should measure the instances of gospeling through both word and deed. In Kingdom Calling, Amy Sherman recommends creating an inventory of the many good deeds that a congregation is already involved with, and then helping those involved to find words for the gospel that those deeds reflect (for example, what injustice is it addressing and why is the Gospel part of that story?).
Perhaps we can have in our metric the ways we, as already-believers, find our hearts expanded and our minds renewed to be disciples of Jesus who engage in the world in the way Jesus demonstrated and taught.
May we become demonstrators of Jesus’ way not as separated from the world to protect ourselves, but as friends who pour out our lives for the lost, the least and the last in both word and action.