Summary: Many churches based the success or failure of their ministries on how many people come. God’s standard is somwhat different.
I. What is the determining factor between success and failure?
A. Pappa John’s pizza has a mission statement of “To produce the best possible pizza at the most affordable price.”
B. Now you may not like Pappa John’s pizza, and you may not think it is the most affordable, but is your opinion the determining factor for success or failure.
C. You may say,
1. “If I don’t buy Pappa John’s, then it is a failure” or
2. “If enough people don’t buy Pappa John’s it is most certainly a failure,” but
D. I take you back to their mission statement, “To produce the best possible pizza at the most affordable price.”
1. If their mission statement is their goal, is their success dependent on the number of pizza’s they sell, or
2. Is their success based on whether they produce the best possible pizza at the most affordable price?
E. I submit that success or failure must be based on what the stated goal is, not the anticipated result, and that is one reason a “Purpose Statement” or “Vision Statement” is mandatory.
II. I would like to read for you a letter, the writer of which you probably do not know personally, although you have almost certainly heard about it’s author over the past few weeks.
Dear Women of New Life Church:
I am so sorry for the circumstances that have led me to write this letter to you today. I know your hears are broken; mine is as well. Yet my hope rests steadfastly in the Lord who is forever faithful.
What I want you to know is that I love my husband, Ted Haggard, with all my heart. I am committed to him until death “do us part.” We started this journey together and with the grace of God, we will finish together.
If I were standing before you today, I would not change one iota of what I have been teaching the women of our church. For those of you who have been concerned that my marriage was so perfect I could not possibly relate to the women who are facing great difficulties, know that this will never again be the case. My test has begun; watch me, I will try to prove myself faithful.
I love you all so much, especially you young women –you are my delight.
To all the church family of New Life Church – Ted and I are so proud of you. You are all we hoped you would be. In our minds, there is no greater church.
As you try to make sense of these past few days, now that Ted believes with all his heart and soul everything he has ever taught you, those things you are putting into practice. He is now the visible and public evidence that every man (woman and child) needs a Savior.
We are grateful for your prayers for our family.
I hold you forever in my heart.
(Letter taken from New Life Church website)
III. New Life Church began some years ago in the basement of Ted and Gayle Haggards home.
A. Today it is a so called “Mega church” of some 14000 worshiper’s, located in Denver Colorado.
B. You probably know that their pastor has just be caught up in a scandal, and most recently reigned; so is New Life Church a success or a failure.
C. Here is their purpose statement, “Our purpose is to know, worship and obey God according to the Scriptures.”
D. Their mission - “...to promote healthy relationship through small grops which empower people for ministry.
1. Their pastor recently “fell” but they still have over 1200 functioning small groups.
2. One person fell; certainly out of 14,000 many others could be found just as guilty,
3. But; they are still there, evidently doing that which their purpose and mission statement says they intend to do.
E. If you base success on Ted Haggard, you must say failure, however
F. If you base success or failure on number of attenders, I suppose they are a success, BUT
G. If you base success on that church meeting it’s stated purpose and mission, how would you answer.
IV. I suppose because of our human frailties, we need something visible by which to measure success.
A. Did you know that 90% of all churches in the United States have fewer than 100 people in attendance on Sunday morning.
B. Did you know that of that number some 80% have fewer than 50.
C. Success; or failure, I suppose it depends on what the criteria is.
V. I believe that our passage this morning is one basis by which a church can measure it’s success or failure; and note, there is not one number given.
VI. Turn with me to 1st Timothy, chapter 3, beginning in verse 14.