"It can feel like we lose more battles than we win.” A mentor figure had asked about if the ministry is going well. I knew I was called to faithfulness and Spirit dependence, but this was an honest reflection. Rather than offering sympathy, the man wisely counseled me to never speak that way again. His wisdom proved transformative. Keeping score of wins and losses (i.e. dualism) is an oppressive cycle. The call to faithfulness and Spirit dependence can mature into a better framework. What framework? Christ-centered “radical inclusivity,” the realization that everything belongs within the sovereignty of Christ – even if I feel like it’s a loss from my perspective. Though we may get the occasional glimpse into what He is doing, scoring wins and losses is beyond our purview. Our true scorecard is how well we love like He loves.
Changing the scorecard changes a church culture. Striving for nearsighted wins, individuals and ministries can undermine the eternal mission with well-meaning “cheap fixes”: rescue over consistency, entertainment over accountability, tolerance over correction. It’s like a diet of cake. Burnout happens when we become committed to cheap fixes rather than the eternal mission. Furthermore, does creating a self-centered culture bring the lost closer to the repentance and grace through faith? Way back when we started with basketball evangelism in inner-city parks, teens flocked to us, hearing the gospel while scoring free stuff. Most of that generation faded out of the church scene, but those who engaged with tough, interpersonal mentors stayed. Cheap fixes aren’t truly compelling! Remember, that’s not how God operates with us, and relational ministry serves to connect people with God as He is. Contrasting cheap fixes, the scorecard of love demands “hard relationships” in discipleship: consistency, accountability, correction (like that which inspired this post). My limited perspective will meet disappointments, but I know that God is worshipped when I am operating on the scorecard of gospel-driven love. The scorecard change makes it about being worshippers and making worshippers.
When people ask me if the ministry is going well, I want to say “yes,” but not because it seems like were winning in numbers or circumstances. I want to say “yes” because, in faithfulness and Spirit dependence, I am loving like Jesus, worshipping and leading worship with Christ-centered radical inclusivity.