Poll: Does “success” mean God is honoring a ministry?

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Many times a ministry/person is defended, regardless of their teachings, because they are popular or successful. Not only are ministries defend as such, but they also come to a place where they can do no wrong. They might be betrayed as above any type of criticism or biblical correction.

Such ministries might be defended in various ways such as:

  • God is clearly blessing this ministry. Just look at all the good they do.
  • I’ve seen more people grow, etc. using their teachings.
  • God would not let such growth of said ministry if it weren’t solid.
  • Nothing has helped me grow as much as this ministry.
  • Just look at the number of people they touch.
  • Add your own, etc.

Are these oft given reasons a valid biblical measure of success? What do you think?

Does "success" mean God is honoring a ministry?

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The above article was posted on January 25, 2010 by Mark Lamprecht.
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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Chris January 27, 2010 at 9:20 pm

I answered maybe. It seems that Spurgeon’s ministry was a success. Many contemporary megachurches, not so much. (I’ve seen some state that the Met Tab was the first modern megachurch.) Spurgeon was subjected to much criticism early in his ministry, probably in part due to the large crowds he drew.

Obviously numerical success alone does not indicate God’s blessing.

I’ll give a short breakdown of your list all of which are commonly heard arguments:

“God is clearly blessing this ministry. Just look at all the good they do.”—What is meant by “good?” If it is seeing large numbers of true conversions and the people are growing in grace, then it would no doubt appear to have God’s blessing. But very often this is merely an attempt to defend large ministries, with the idea being they name the name of Christ and are drawing large crowds, thus God’s blessing must be upon them.

“I’ve seen more people grow, etc. using their teachings.”—*As with the above this hinges on the definition of growth.

“God would not let such growth of said ministry if it weren’t solid.” See #1. We see from the NT that already there were heretics leading people astray.

#4 is similar to #2.

“Just look at the number of people they touch.” Touch in what way? Is an emotional feeling worked up? Some will exchange alcohol, drugs and other forms of escapism for a religious high. Or is the truth being proclaimed and people converted and discipled?

2 Mark Lamprecht January 27, 2010 at 11:27 pm

Chris, thanks for the comments. So far no one chose yes. I sort of expected that. I think most are willing to say no or maybe depending on their perspective.

I’m even willing to defend a ministry to some extent on by its fruit. It seems the real problem comes when we are unwilling to biblical discern were some indiscretions may lie. We need to be willing to do this to ourselves (especially if we teach) as well as those who teach us.

Whatever the amount of good fruit produced it must be measured with Scripture or we really don’t know how good it is. So no one misunderstands, I am aiming at myself here too.

3 julius mickel February 17, 2010 at 2:29 am

The problem indeed comes with the ‘unwillingness’ to discern. It’s the ‘normally I would object to this practice, to this teaching, BUT because of this _____(some ‘obvious’ success) I must make an exception.
As an example, if you read Piper on the Supremacy of God in preaching, then listen to his comments on Driscoll they quite contradict but only last year his reasons (at Alistar Beggs’ church-BASICS conf i think) were ‘BUT, look at this ____!’
Sure Spurgeon was well known, but he was well hated as well.

4 Mark Lamprecht February 17, 2010 at 9:20 am

Julius, while I’ll let others decide if the Piper-Driscoll comment fits. Though you have given the response that many give. There is a not-so-good column, BUT the good column is SO GOOD that discernment goes out the window.

Thanks for dropping by.

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