According to almost every book that I had read as a young church planter, I was a failure because the growth of our church was not reaching those prescribed goals in the prescribed amount of time. I began doing something that I should have done long before… but often times God needs us in a place of desperation to begin molding us. I began taking all of these definitions of success to the Bible and searched for God’s prescribed goals and timelines.
As you might expect, I couldn’t find anything about Paul needing to break 200 after 2 years in order to be successful. The more I pulled away from reading books by the popular pastors and began reading the Bible, the more my mind and heart were transformed. In God’s providence, I ended up getting my doctoral research degree at Fuller Seminary – the home of the Church Growth Movement! What an experience to arrive there and see that although they respected the work of those great professors of the 70’s they had long since abandoned those definitions of success. They had come back to the ancient idea that the Mission of God (Missio Dei) was success.
God was tying me in intellectual knots, yet he was bringing a great freedom over my heart as well. In my heart, Crossings Community was becoming a story of God’s work of transforming homes. He began to open my eyes to see the stories of transformation that he was working through his church. I began to see, for the first time, that my previous definitions of success were based on an assumption that the finish line was a really great event on Sunday morning with a ton of people present. This model was more about creating a tower of power rather than spreading the story of the Savior.
God convicted me (and continues to do so today) of pride and arrogance as I was diminishing the beauty of his work in the homes and neighborhoods through our church. Because God’s work did not fit within the framework of popular pastors, I was labeling God as a failure. The stories of transformation continued to flood in… marriages healing through an application of the gospel… homes selling and giving away what they possessed for the cause of others in need… honesty and authenticity in relationships being experienced for the first time… baptism… salvation… missionaries being encouraged and sent locally and across the globe… story after story of God transforming homes.
It has been over 5 years and we are at the verge of breaking the 100 barrier. Is that successful? ABSOLUTELY! Our Savior is establishing his presence in new homes and growing his presence in others through the faithful body of Christ we call Crossings Community Church. Success is being faithful in our obedience to our heavenly Father and trusting his work through that faithfulness.
So how do we measure success at Crossings Community? Good question…. stick around for Part 3.