Success is ultimately achievement of want or desire or an acceptable or good outcome.SO I want to know
1. What do the worldwide denominations say they want? What do the worldwide denominations really want? What does their leadership want?
2. What do the mega-churches want? What do their leadership want?
3. What does your Journey want, what do yo want? What's your measure of success? How will you ever now you achieved success? Is it Joel Olsteen type money. Is it Pat Robertson type power and influence? Is it Pope-like reverence? Is it reaching the one million saved mark on your golden arches?
Don't give us some easy pastor-like (political) answer either? Why are you a pastor and why have you traveled the [path] you are on?
lemme take a stab at this.
i don't know what the worldwide denominations really want. each denomination, each church concept, each model, has its own purposes - stated and unstated. i like this book, avery dulles's models of the church. it's a resource journey ifc used in bible study when we were first starting. we spent a lot of time with this book, thinking about the different models of what a church overall, and an individual congregation/group can be. we wiped the slate clean. what's the model we think god is leading us to? what do our souls tell us? what have we brought with us, from previous churches, or no church - that worked, that didn't work?
and the big question was: what do you think god dreams of, if god had a group of people who just asked, over and over, What do you want us to be?
we boiled it down to what jesus said the most important thing was. love god, love other people, learn to be loved. we figured if it was good enough for jesus, it was a good thing to put at the center of everything we did. so that's our model.
we chose NOT to be an institution. NOT to be a club. NOT to be a tool for proclaiming salvation through formulas or doctrines. instead, we chose to be a serant community. our understanding of "love" as jesus meant it, was to serve, forgive, be present with, show compassion to. feed. clothe. listen to. to heal and be healed.
so, i don't know what other denominations/churches/models choose.
if i had to guess, here's an example.
so, let's say a local congregation is part of a larger movement/denomination/association. people become part of it because it attracts them, for whatever reason. maybe it's the building. maybe it's friends who've brought them. maybe it's the children's programs, or youth programs, or some other thing that meets a personal need or life stage they're in. maybe it's a message the church proclaims about god, or people, or the world. maybe it's just how it feels. maybe it's how the group worships together.
here's the trick: what does the church say it's about? define that. learn that. read it, ask about it, listen to it.
then, what is the church really about? watch. listen. ask people. pay attention. live in it. feel it.
when those two things are congruent in a church, or denomination, or whatever, then you've got integrity and that's a good place to be, a good group to be part of.
if those two things are not congruent, there's a lack of clarity. integrity. focus. honesty. whatever.
every church uses the tools that serve its purpose - either stated or unstated, either consciously or un-. are the tools clear in their usage?
and, are the people dealing with their own shit - and their beauty - or are they in denial about it?
i don't know what the largest churches want, but i bet it's about money and success and size, and they use whatever tools serve that purpose. maybe it's that they use size to do what they believe in - build healthy community, reach people, whatever. that's fine. i don't know what an institutional/hierarchical church wants, but i bet it's about laws and doctrine and order. maybe it's that they use order to do what they believe in - build healthy community, reach people, whatever. that's fine. i don't know what a proclaiming church wants, but i bet it's about the primary role of words, and scriptures or sacred texts, and rituals supporting that. maybe it's that they use words to do what they believe in - build healthy community, reach people, whatever. that's fine.
what do i want? i want to be with a group of people who do what they say they do. i want to be part of an organization that has the balls to stop and pray and listen to god - and to do what they understand god to tell them, whether that fits our cultural training or not. i want to be part of a group of people who are humble and are dealing with their own shit, and accepting their own beauty. i want to serve among people who genuinely give a damn about other people. and about loving other people. and about loving god. and about learning to love themselves.
my measure of "success" is that that's happening, in little or big ways, every day.
that's why i'm a pastor - to be part of something that believes in that. and that's why i am a part of journey.
there is no objective way to measure or track that. any more than there is to measure or track love.