What is a common, yet unbiblical way a pastor evaluates his ministry?

There are numerous ideas that could qualify for an answer, but the one I have in mind proves to be a most harmful one.  I recently received word of a Senior Pastor who was questioning his own faithfulness as a shepherd, evangelist, preacher, and even his faithfulness to the gospel because of this common, yet unbiblical method of evaluation.  A common, yet flawed, harmful, and unbiblical way for a pastor to evaluate his ministry is when it is based on…

“Numbers”

It is amazing how much we have succumbed to evaluating our ministries and our effectiveness as pastors on the basis of a numbers game.  I would hope we all want to see more and more people hear the gospel, follow Jesus, and be baptized.  I would hope we all want to see more people come to our churches and hear God’s Word preached and to experience the loving fellowship of our people.  If you don’t desire those things, please do not continue in pastoral ministry.  Yet, I am concerned that a preoccupation with numbers will caused us to miss what our primary task biblically as pastors is—to shepherd the eternal souls of God’s people.

The 19th century Scottish pastor and trainer of pastors, John Brown, wrote a letter to one of his students newly ordained over a small congregation and extended this word to him:

I know the vanity of your heart, and that you will feel mortified that your congregation is very small, in comparison with those of your brethren around you; but assure yourself on the word of an old man, that when you come to give an account of them to the Lord Christ at his judgment seat, you will think you have had enough. 

Dear brothers, we will give an account for our ministries, thus, they need to be evaluated regularly by us and others.  Yet, a wrongful and unbiblical method of evaluation will lead to a distracted vision of where and what our ministries should be focused on.  We are to “keep watch over souls as those who will give an account” (Heb. 13:17). 

Fellow pastors, we will most certainly give an account, but it will not be based on attendance records, but how faithfully and sacrifically we have watched over the souls of the people the Chief Shepherd has placed in our care until He returns (1 Peter 5:4).

Posted in Training for Ministry
2 comments on “What is a common, yet unbiblical way a pastor evaluates his ministry?
  1. Ken Rucker says:

    Brian – thanks for this encouragement. It’s so easy to fall into this trap. When pastors gather at conferences, one of the first questions we have for one another is “how large is your church”, or “is your ministry growing”? It’s almost as if the size of our church equates to some kind of pecking order amongst pastors.

    I want more people in our church and I want to be growing faster, and if I’m honest, a large part of that desire is from my flesh. It’s pride, pure and simple. And so when the numbers don’t happen and when the growth isn’t there, I too question whether I am God’s man for this role.

    We need to be reminded that we will be held accountable to how faithfully we preached the gospel, and how faithfully we shepherded His flock, not how large a crowd we drew on Sundays. Thanks for this reminder and encouragement.

    Ken

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