How Does Jesus Measure Success?

Coming out of a leadership meeting recently, I found myself somewhat in a quandary. We had talked about many different changes we could make to help facilitate the ministry. Many were God inspired ideas and many were just plain practical. Like everyone’s meetings, the underlying tone was that each idea would help us to grow numerically as well as spiritually.

Change is always hard and requires lots of effort. As a ministry, we have had some very high moments of both numerical growth and spiritual understanding established. But these did not happen in a moment, it took time. Each person was taken from a starting point and eventually ended in fruitfulness. Each person was hungry for God and that made the transformation easy. What we see as success is the finished product. We don’t see the work as the success even though it is the true success and the finished product is only the by-product of the work or success.

Many can say if you did this or that, I would come, or if the meeting was held at a different time, or you had child care, or you had… we have all heard these excuses before. The thing that makes lasting change is desperation for change and hunger to find answers. When you get desperate enough, you will do anything and pay any price to find change that will last.  The hidden place of the heart is where success is only seen by God. I have always said the number of people who come is only the number of those interested. The hearts that are changed are the numbers who are serious. As leaders, our role is to grow people in Christ, not grow large administrative works. We are trying to get a lot of people interested, so we can grow our works and in the process, we may be losing our success.

It appears that most people don’t want to really do the work of the ministry unless there is a guarantee of a finished product or measured success. I see many pastors desiring change but uncertainty of the outcome stops them from every trying or making an attempt. The emerging generation has this perception as well not knowing what to do, but at least more willing to attempt. Human natures DNA has within it a willingness to do the work, as long as a guarantee of result is given. But many times the results can be lacking, so do we still look at that as success or failure? Thank God Jesus did the work of the Cross and put into place the success of it for us, even though others would deny the cross! In many ways it could be looked upon as a failure, like how the early disciples saw it, it’s all in your perceptions.

We have all kinds of ways today that we measure ourselves to see if we are attaining our goals. Much of this is how we compare ourselves with each other; this is a much skewed way of measuring. It is measuring different gifts, callings, assignments, personalities, strengths, weakness, understandings, revelations, etc. against each other and expecting the same results or outcome. Paul was right when he said in II Corinthians 10:12,13  “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves are not wise. But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you.”     The measure of the rule of Christ is the measurement of His righteousness established in our lives. It is looking at our lives and seeing how we are in measurement of the righteousness of Christ. Where is righteousness lacking? Where is it strong and settled? What is Christ desiring of me in areas? Now that is how we are to be looking: not outward but inward.

I talked to a neighbor just yesterday who has left the organized church about 8 years ago. He is discipling people in his home who have been so burned by religion and are hurting. He said “It does not matter to me if I have 2000, 200, 20, or even 2. If this is what God has given to me in my hand then so be it, then this is what I will pour my heart into!”

My perception had begun to change. I talked with a spiritual son yesterday and he gave me some good perspectives.  As an apostolic work, I have a desire to see the Body grow up but also to see the organized religious structure limiting. As a Kingdom center, we have always tried to maintain a position of neutrality, even holding meetings at different times than the organized church, etc. But after all is said and done, we have not seen those leaders support or help promote what we are doing. We did not want to compete with them, but now I am coming to a point of saying ‘perhaps we should be meeting at the same time and allow people to make a choice where they put their time, commitment, and resources’. Have I compromised for the sake of not being offensive? Could I not be fulfilling the will of God for the sake of helping keep the organized structure thriving by not having a choice or option for those seeking at the typical Sunday morning time? Am I doing and using everything available in my decision making to best put a tool in place that would change hearts?

What I do know is this; I must fulfill the things in my heart. That means even if no one else wants to participate or the number of followers seems low. Just because others deny, does not mean what you are doing is any less or more. It’s like preaching, if you are preaching the Word and you don’t see the results, it does not mean what you preach is wrong, but what people are doing with it is probably lacking.  The bottom line will not be the size of our ministry or the amount of people we produced or succeeded with. Nor is success how busy we are, thinking that equals results. Jesus told Martha that Mary had chosen the better thing to simply sit at his feet. When we stand before God, we will be asked something similar to this: “What did you do with my Son and His righteousness in your life as you fulfilled what I asked of you?” The work of success is righteousness and the outcome of righteousness is God’s will fulfilled!

Full Gospel or Apostolic Kingdom

I have been asked several times about the difference between an apostolic or kingdom church and a Full Gospel charismatic church. After all, they are the same, aren’t they? No, not at all. Here are some comparisons. (Full Gospel Charismatic church will be FGC. Apostolic Kingdom will be AK.)

Vision

Generally an FGC church will be focused like most other churches on outreach of winning the lost and discipling. The discipling is more into the tenets of their expression. The AK will be more focused on the development of people and their placement into effective function in the local assembly. FGC will focus on conversion of all souls and will focus on presenting the gospel of salvation. AK will be focused that all people will feel the weight of the Kingdom and its influences. AK knows the Kingdom automatically demands an answer and decisions will have to be made.

Structure

The structure of an FGC is more traditional and will be composed of a board and elders who make decisions. It may or may not have a voting system. Involvement in the ministry is generally attained after several months and is based more on attendance. AK will be composed of a team of leaders making decisions together. A board may exist but only to be a legal corporation. Involvement is generally very quick and is based on discernment and heart connection with the overall vision.

Alignments

FGC generally align to a network of churches connected by doctrine. Many times this is a denomination. Outside alignments are seldom seen and this is reflected in the ministries coming through. Most of the time they are from the same camp. AK will align apostolically and prophetically and not so much doctrinally. AK will be relationship driven and the ministries coming through will be in relationship more so than the same camp. AK does not fear the variety of ways of ministry as much as the FGC.

Leadership

This is probably one of the greatest differences. FGC has a senior pastor. Generally they are charismatic and probably have a certain degree of a teaching gift. As I stated earlier, it is an eldership driven leadership made up of those of the congregation and decisions are made based more from a business perspective than a faith position. AK will have an apostolic leader (not necessarily an apostle) who has a certain grace to lead others into Kingdom dynamics. A team is formed of fivefold type leaders who will speak by visionary perspectives and lead by faith.

Focus

The focus in an FGC will be more on life discipling and family focuses. Programs will be put in place to minister to the needs of the family and this will be reflected in special gatherings for men and women, youth and kids. The AK will be focused more on the Kingdom than the family and trust that if Kingdom dynamics are put in place, then the family will automatically be taken care of. The outworking of this is the family being together to experience spiritual life as a unit. Activation is put upon the family and development of gifts started at a young age.

Messages

FGC messages are culturally relevant and again family focused. Removing injustice is part of the message but ends up being more about ministering to injustice than removing it.  AK will have more revelatory messages and of course Kingdom dynamics. Messages will be on reforming culture to remove injustices instead of ministering within culture. While FGC will be “culturally relevant” (trying to relate to culture) AK will be “counter cultural” (knowing that Kingdom culture will change current culture).

Worship

FGC will have more of a standard approach to worship. Songs will have more of a focus about God instead of Who He is. Songs will also have a self focus and will be better known. Song services are more planned and have a set time. With AK, the songs are more focused on God Himself and His great works. Very few songs are about self. Songs are more from unknown artists because the message they carry is fresher. Spontaneous worship and creating of songs is what AK is known for. The worship has no real set time factor.

Prayer

FGC has a group set aside and recognized as the intercessors. AK looks at every person as called to intercede. Prayer for people at altar calls may have a team in a FGC, but generally it is the senior leader and their spouse. AK will have a team or see everyone as being able to pray and minister to others.

Activation

FGC will take people through classes associated with what they believe before they truly activate people. Time factors and certain things need to be attained before a person is released or put in place, to reduce possible mistakes. AK will activate people pretty quickly and will train them as they do ministry. They are not concerned about mistakes but are more concerned about a person trying than being perfect in how they do things.

Spiritual Community

FGC has spiritual community based on relationships around the belief system. Most spiritual communities are pretty healthy but can also be more surface type relationships. Smaller churches will have greater community. In larger churches, the community will be several communities within it based around the programs. AK will develop a community of honor and tightness in relationships that can be enlarged as it grows. They will have solid, deep meaningful relationships that build a sense of family. This family is more than those in the room but also extends to those outside of the local gathering and into all those they are in relationship with in other ministries.

Missions

The outward expression of FGC will be set missionaries they help support in part. Locally missions will be a helps type ministry of feeding the homeless, crisis pregnancy centers, and other outreach programs. This could also extend into foreign mission trips where the same types of ministry occur such as erecting/repairing church buildings, working in orphanages, etc. The AK approach in missions is not so much as supporting but sending. They too, might be involved in the same local outreaches but are looked at as more of being sent with an assignment. This is extended to the foreign missions as well. Being sent with a specific assignment, the helps ministry is not seen in other nations but leadership training, conferences and educational thrusts are primary.

As we can see, there is a difference to both types of ministries. There needs to be more of a balance. As I see it, the main thing to be added to the AK model is local outreach. I think many Apostolic Kingdom Churches are hesitant because of associating with an old model. The main thing that stands out in the apostolic / Kingdom churches that I did not cover is a more consistent life-giving flow. To me, this is the primary difference and is why so many churches need to transition to this model.

A Leaders Heart Deposit

A leader must not deter from the primary assignment on their life. If you do, you will not fulfill that assignment and you will not release the deposit that leads to your destiny. Nehemiah was a man who had no real position of importance but what was important was the deposit in His heart that God had placed there. As he started out on his journey, he thought he was still doing a physical act of rebuilding what was torn down. Little did he know that when we answer the cry of God’s heart through our heart, that the spiritual ramifications are far reaching. Not only did he fulfill the restoration of physical things but also the true spiritual condition of a nation’s culture. The principle is the deposit of God’s heart in our heart is further reaching than our understanding in the current moment.