A question I often ask myself is ‘How effective am I being in my ministry?’ and I can imagine that I am not alone in this.
Over the years, I have been discouraged when I have tried to measure my effectiveness by worldly standards: how many times has my song been listened to on Spotify? How many people have watched the sermon video? How many likes does my ministry page have on Facebook? How many times have I been invited to speak or sing somewhere in the past 6 months? How many books or CDs have I sold? How many people attend church on a Sunday? – and on, and on it goes.
I have learnt that I am often asking the wrong questions as well as using the wrong metrics with which to measure my effectiveness by.
Being involved in Christian ministry is ultimately about making Jesus famous – nothing else. Sharing and showing His love. It is not about ‘me’ but it is all about ‘Him’. This is why many of the marketing tips and techniques offered don’t quite fit or work well within a ministry context.
Here are 3 things I now use to help me measure how effective I am being with my ministry:
Our lives, worship and service of Jesus can be summed up in one word ‘obedience’.
The question we should be asking is: Am I being obedient to the call Jesus has placed upon my life?
If we are being obedient, then that is OK. This is all that is required. Jesus will say to us, ‘Well done my good and faithful servant’, not ‘Well done my successful servant’. To be successful in heavenly terms is to continue to obey despite the hardships and difficulties.
We don’t need to have the biggest church in town. We don’t need to have a number one New York Times best selling book. People don’t need to know our names.
Have we obeyed what Jesus has asked us to do? If so, then we are successful.
So is your ministry effective? Is it successful? – ask yourself if you are continuing in your obedience to Jesus. This will give you a pretty good measure of where you are at.
But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.1 Samuel 15:22
The Bible encourages us to be fruitful. So another measure is to ask ourselves if our ministry is bearing fruit.
However, it is important to first define what healthy fruit looks like as it is easy to equate worldly markers of success with what our spiritual / ministry fruit should look like.
Another thing to consider is the seasonal nature of many things in the spirit. There will be seasons when one type of fruit is evident, while another is not. This doesn’t mean that you are unsuccessful – perhaps it is just not in-season yet.
But fruit is important. What fruit is being produced in your life? What fruit is being produced in the lives of those you are ministering to? Are you continuing in obedience to Jesus?
If there is no evidence of fruit – perhaps the tree needs some help? A nurturing back to health to help it be fruitful once again.
No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn bushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.Luke 6:43-45
3. Criticism / Attack
This is a counter intuitive measure of success – I want to be successful, but I don’t want to be criticised.
I have learnt that often, success and a moving forward in Christian ministry come hand in hand with an increase in opposition and criticism – even attack.
It makes sense that the more effective we are being for The Kingdom of God, the more the kingdom of darkness wants to kick back against us. As the Kingdom of God advances, we have an adversary who is warring against us and will do and say things to try to stop us from advancing. We are engaged in a spiritual battle after all.
So ask yourself, when was the last time I was criticised or attacked? This could be from strangers, but also from those who you are in close relationship with.
If you are facing push-back, could I suggest that this may be an indicator that you are actually doing the right thing? Be wise. Still take advice from trusted leaders. Still be obedience to the upward call of God in Christ. Be open to learning, to changing and to doing things differently. But also be prepared to carry more weight and to take more hits as your ministry increases in effectiveness.
Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.Ephesians 6:12