It’s not a Both/And, often it is an Either/Or

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : October 28, 2004

I think one of the most damaging things many churches believe is that they can do it all. They think they can be A) faithful AND B) successful (according to conventional measure). They can not only help the needy and foster intensive community, but also have a super-band, kick-ass messages, cool ambience, etc. It is interesting that when they attempt to do both, they almost invariably start with the latter. They think that once they get their act together, then they can start doing those really nice things. And sometimes a special few are able to do that. But it is incredibly hard to move from the comfortable-and-shiny to the uncomfortable-and-challenging.

Which would you rather have? I honestly believe that most churches and church leaders want both. But I also honestly believe that most churches and church leaders, deep-down-inside, would rather have success with marginal faithfulness than faithfulness with marginal success. This is human nature. I suspect most leaders start out wanting both, but as they strive after success, their definition of “faithfulness” changes.

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3 Responses to “It’s not a Both/And, often it is an Either/Or”

  1. andy gr on October 28th, 2004 1:30 pm

    Beautifully put. My experience is that if the leaders talk/act about social justice AND spirituality/evangelism/exposition, etc, everyone’s OK with that. If leaders ONLY talk/act about social justice, they’re rightly criticised as unbalanced. But somehow or other when social justice isn’t mentioned, leaders don’t get called to task for being unbalanced in that way. Odd, isn’t it? And it shows which side of the supposed both/and we really care about.

  2. Van S on October 28th, 2004 2:12 pm

    It is hard to resist the tantalizing fruit of success. Very few are applauded and adored for doing ministry as Jesus did. I hate the fact that I am pulled towards the applause that comes from doing things “successfully”. I need to read the Gospels and surround myself with faithful people, otherwise I might succumb.

  3. Steve on October 28th, 2004 8:15 pm

    I got so exited here, I actually did a long blog on my own site. Check it out

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