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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

23 Sep '12

When success can be an enemy

Posted by T.J. Addington in success
It may sound counter intuitive but ministry success can be an enemy in at least two ways.

First, when a ministry has seen a great period of success in its past, it often spends the next decades either thinking they are still living in that glorious past when they are not. Or, they are trying to recreate that past when they cannot. This is often true of local churches who saw a "heyday" that people remember. That past success keeps them from making the needed changes to move into a different future since "it worked in the past and so should work in the future." 

Of course it rarely does and the ministry usually does not move on until it can bless the past as the past and embrace a new vision for the future. What got you to here got you to here: it will not get you to there. 

Success can also be a blinder in the present. Success does not mean that a ministry is healthy. It just means that for some reason it is seeing greater momentum than it has in the past. I watched one church move to a new location and quickly triple in size. Yet there were many issues internally that needed to be resolved. However, because of the rapid growth (from a move) it was assumed by some leaders that all was well (it was not). 

Momentum should not keep us from asking hard questions about the health of an organization for two reasons. First, because there may be other reasons for that momentum. Second, because momentum does not last forever and the most important issue is the internal health of staff, leadership and long term viability and fruitfulness. Momentum and "success" can mask issues for a time but not forever. Eventually they surface!

The moral is that past success is not the key to future success and present success is not a reason to let our guard down and assume all is well. That success, past or present can bring with it both arrogance and carelessness, each of which are an enemy.