Friday, August 5, 2011

'Re'-Defining Success!

"Success is not sustainable if it's defined by how big you become. Large numbers that once captivated me - 40,000 stores! - are not what matter. The only number that matters is "one". One cup. One customer. One partner. One experience at a time. We had to get back to what mattered most." ~ Howard Schulz (CEO of Starbucks Coffee)

There's something inately comforting about this quote. I imagine though, that it probably only brings comfort to those who've tried to succeed with numbers and have failed in some form or another. Here's what I'm trying to say: Building a mega church was once a goal for me! It isn't any more. But that's not because I built one and then decided that it wasn't my thing. On the contrary, it's because I tried to build one and couldn't. For me though, that's a good thing. It may not be so for you. Let me explain.

Howard Schulz was CEO of Starbucks and built the business into a very successful company (Any one who can convince people to part with $5.00 for a cup of coffeee is a brilliant strategist and entrepreneur in my book). He eventually left that position to become Chairman of the Board. Unfortunately, after his departure as CEO, Starbucks began to lose their market lead and their client base. Why? Howard's quote above is the reason they finally came up with after he returned to the position of CEO and did some exploratory research into why they were not as successful as they'd been in the past. But this post isn't actually about Coffee or Starbucks, it's about church planting and pastoring. Huh? Just go with me on this for a moment.

For church planters and pastors it's so easy to get caught up in the 'numbers game' and think that the success of your church is determined purely by attendance. Nothing could be further from the truth. Conversely though, the danger with dispeling the value of attendance numbers, is the fact that numbers represent people. That's what really speaks to me about Howard's quote. It's not the numbers I'm concerned with, after all, if you're truly reaching and impacting people's lives your attendance is bound to grow. My concern is that we all too often lose sight of the individual and only see the numbers. In my case, once numbers ceased to be the sole motivating factor in building a church, I began to see the individual. The hurting, seeking, and broken people that sorround me daily and that desperately cry out for answers. That shift in paradigm suddenly made pastoring infinitely more meaningful to me than a slammin' Sunday service (though that's a great thing to have). That's essentially what I hear Howard saying when he says "the only number that matters is One."

Seems to me he's in pretty good company since Jesus was concerned about the "one" too. You see, in the parable of the Lost Sheep, He tells us that the Shepherd (Himself) leaves the 99 to go and search for the 1. That becomes really, really important when that 1 is you!


Anonymous said...

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