A guest post, on my own site


A friend of mine from college, Clint Clifton, is a church planter in northern Virginia. Clint is currently out of the country in Indonesia working with an Unreached People Group. While he is gone, he has asked a number of his friends to provide guest posts on his blog. The only catch is that we had to write on one of a few selected topics and it had to be fairly short. I’ll be honest that I had to rewrite the doggone thing a couple of times because I would have preferred to use a lot more space to adequately describe what I was trying to write about, none-the-less I finally got it reduced quite a bit and hopefully is close to the size he wanted it. Anyway, I thought I would reprint it here in case you might be interested. 

Buildings, Budgets & Baptisms. If I was to look out across the Evangelical landscape, there are a number of ministry problems I see that concern me, but one of the greatest is our practice of measuring success by examining Buildings, Budgets & Baptisms. Paul seemed to point us in the right direction in Colossians 1:28-29 when he told us that we should endeavor to “present every man perfect in Christ”. So, if that’s an example of a biblical success barometer, how come weseldom see that used? I’d like to try and posit a few possible answers. 

 

  1. Disciple making is too difficult to quantify. Let’s be honest, it is not that easy to identify an authentic disciple. We have all known people who appeared to be walking with Christ and who, at some point down the road, fall off the wagon and walk away from their supposed faith. So who is to say that what we view as a disciple is not really another failed follower ready to bolt? Beyond that, disciple-making does not feature an easily recognized “experience” that can be recorded and bragged about at denominational meetings and conferences. No, we would much rather deal with something easy to fit into a cute little spreadsheet. Besides, if you ever really try to measure your effectiveness at making disciples you are liable to get ripped apart. Just ask Bill Hybels.
  2. The three “B’s” are much more controllable than making disciples. Now, one could argue that you cannot really control baptisms, but any of us who has any oratorical skill at all knows how easy it is to pull on the emotions and create decisions which lead to baptisms. No, the truth is we like the three “B’s” because we can have a lot of say in whether they happen or not. They are controllable, and we like things we can control.
  3. Disciplemaking takes too much time. If we are truthful about it, we like quick results. In our microwave culture, we are not inclined to invest the time necessary to really make disciples. Unfortunately Christ’s pattern is one of significant time investment. Making disciples may have fit Christ’s modus operandi, but we would prefer something that we can make happen a bit faster.

So, what should we do? Should we give up on the three “B’s”? I would argue, no. In fact, I lead a church that is almost rabid as we attempt to measure the three “B’s” as well as a plethora of other characteristics about our church. No, I do not think we need to avoid those areas. I do think, however, that we need to be honest and recognize that those areas, while important, are not necessarily the best barometers of success. Instead we need to refocus on fostering authentic disciples. We need to prize those that grow in their relationship with Christ. We need to trumpet, from the pulpit, the value of discipleship and all that it entails.

My church likes to say that our purpose for existing is, “Helping those who are disconnected from God, to become committed followers of Jesus Christ.” It is probably time that churches start trying to measure our ability to complete that purpose rather than simply offering a bank statement, an architect’s bill or a denominational report card as a symbol of our success. 

Micah Fries is the Senior Pastor of Frederick Boulevard Baptist Church in St. Joseph, Missouri. Micah has served as a Youth Pastor, International Missionary and Senior Pastor for 10 years. Micah is married to Tracy and they have two daughters, Sarah Grace and Kessed Noel. Micah and Clint have known each other since their days in college together at The Baptist College of Florida in Graceville, Florida.  You can read more of Micah’s writings at micahfries.com

Micah is a husband to Tracy & a daddy to Grace, Kessed & Haddon. He’s Senior Pastor at Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN. Most of all, he’s a debtor to grace.

One thought on “A guest post, on my own site

  1. Micah,

    I like your post. I can see where it would be difficult to crunch the topic down too much. That being said, isn’t the idea of a blog to get the people to fill in the cracks and expound on the subject in sort of a wikpediaesqe fashion?

    As far as success of a church. Being an average American male, I compare it to sports. In sports to get better you must prepare; practice and practice and practice. The preparation is for the game or the test if you will (life). To get better you have to be involved in the practice or at the very least paying attention to what is being taught at practice. When you get put in the game it is your duty to be as prepared as possible(personal responsibility). The coach (pastor) doesn’t play the game, he prepares the players (congregation) for the game and builds the plan of attack for the game. It is his duty to ensure that his team (church) is prepared to play and follows the game plan. Until the game is over no winner can be declared (don’t focus so much on the scoreboard). In order to tell who is winning most spectator’s need that scoreboard (BBB), funny since the middle of the game is irrelevant. Not the coach(s) though, he knows what was taught, he can see who followed the plan, knows who is in the right position, who’s a step behind, who came to play and who is content sitting on the sideline. Deep down the coach knows if his team was ready for the game, he knows if he got outcoached, he knows whether or not his team is succeeding and learning. He also realizes that you can give up little battles to win the war in the end. The BBB’s (scores and stats) are just marks of progress along the way and might or might not indicate the true health of the team. Scores and statistics, are marks that get used inappropriately all the time. I recently heard a mouthy QB talk about the weak defense in a whole other league….the whole league?….c’mon that’s a pretty large statement when you haven’t faced that league. What’s he basing his statement on? Games he hasn’t played in, on some number he has heard, or blog out there, and most likely by some biased reporter who knows nothing about responsible journalism. Perhaps he needs to quit worrying about their numbers and prepare for his own game.

    Any coach worth his salt should be about learning and playing first and foremost. When that work is done correctly the Baptism’s, Budget’s, and Buildings will take care of themselves. The Lord will make sure of it.

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