Success that is Failure

“Some years ago I received a call from a pastor of a large church. He asked if he could host me for lunch when I came to speak at a conference in the area. He and a staff of three planned to attend, and they had collectively read my book Fresh Encounters. He indicated that he had some questions, so we locked in the date.

During our lunch, he recounted his journey at the church. He had served as senior pastor for more than a decade. The church had grown from a few hundred and was approaching two thousand in weekly attendance, with an impressive array of programs and facilities. He described the remarkable success of recent years and then stopped midsentence, overwhelmed with emotion. Through the tears he made a profound statement:

I don’t know if what I have accomplished had anything to do with the Holy Spirit. I have been a prayerless pastor.”

Once he regained his composure I asked,

Then how do you explain all that has happened over the last decade?

I worked the formulas,” he responded very matter-of-factly. “I knew the formulas for growth, land acquisition, relocation in a growing area, children’s programming, youth events, attractive worship services, staff development, and high-impact sermons.” He continued, “Yet, if I were to stand before Christ today, I don’t know if what I have done is gold, silver, and precious stones … or just wood, hay, and stubble.

Old Paths, New Power
by Daniel Henderson

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